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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
All right, as usual I've gone ahead and saved the results of my previous exercise, this time I've saved it as High Pass vs SS Adv. That is Smart Sharpen Advanced.psd, so that you can compare the distinctions for yourself and if you want to, you can go ahead and switch the High Pass layer back and forth between the various Blend modes that is Overlay, Hard Light, and Linear Light each one increasing in intensity. All right, I am going to go ahead and escape out of there and switch to the final image, which is the very first image that we looked at, Macro butterfly.jpg.
So I can show you yet another way to sharpen images inside of Photoshop CS5 that does not involve a filter. This time it involves a tool. I am going to go ahead and zoom the image to 100%, move the insect's head into the Image window there. The tool in question is this guy right there, the Sharpen tool. So by default this tool looks like a little drop like so and that's the Blur tool. The Blur tool can be useful by the way for blurring distinctions inside of masks and so on. I don't use it super often. It used to be prior to Photoshop CS5 I used the Sharpen tool never.
It was the worst tool, I am not kidding you. The worst tool by a mile inside of Photoshop has been since it was introduced. It's always been an awful, awful tool. Much worse than anything else you might come up with. Much worse than the Magic Wand tool, which is great by comparison. Much worse than Brightness/Contrast was, when it was the worst color correction tool ever. I will show you what I mean. I'll go ahead and grab the Sharpen tool, and let's increase the size of this brush. It's a brushing tool. So you go ahead and brush inside the image in order to apply sharpening.
Now in order to see the way it used to work, we've got this check box right here called Protect Detail. Turn it off and that turns the tool into its awful old self. Then just go ahead and paint over the butterfly's face, like so. Pretty soon you'll reduce the face to a pile of colorful iron filings like this. It's like you're shaking the image inside of an Etch-a-Sketch. It just turns it into absolute craziness. This doesn't resemble sharpening at all. It's a mess. Anyway, this is way the tool has worked for more than 20 years.
Isn't that awesome? No wonder, nobody has ever told you how to use it, because it's awful. All right, I will go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. Well, here's the weird thing. You may not have known this, because Adobe didn't tell anybody, they did this until the absolute last minute. I found this out from product manager John Nack. Like about three days before the program shipped that they had gone ahead and fixed the Sharpen tool. Here's how it works. By default, Project Detail is turned on. So if you go ahead and drag inside the image, you get a fairly decent sharpening effect.
All right, so it's not perfect, but that's okay, because there's an even better way to work. I am going to press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. You shouldn't work directly on the Background layer, right. That's a destructive modification. So I suggest you grade a new layer by pressing Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac and let's go ahead and call this sharpen tool and then click OK. There is nothing to sharpen. If I try to drag on this sharpen tool layer, I am not going to do anything, because there's nothing on that layer to sharpen unless I turn on Sample All layers.
Then I will go ahead and copy the detail as I sharpen it onto this sharpen tool layer, which is ideal. So turn on the Sample All layers check box. You can increase the Strength if you're starting to get impatient with the results. I don't suggest you work that way. I do, however, suggest you go ahead and change the mode to Luminosity so that you're just sharpening the luminance information inside the image. Then go ahead and paint inside the image, like so. I am going to go ahead and zoom in so that we can see the effects up close and personal.
I am getting some weird artifacts there. That's to be expected. I might just go ahead and paint down in this region as well. Now something you need to bear in mind is you have no radius control. So this is not a print sharpening tool, this is more of a screen sharpening tool. So this is good if you're going to the web or you're just trying to enhance some small details like around eyes inside of a portrait shot. Take it easy; be patient, you may end up getting halfway decent results. Then when you're through sort of painting around inside the image, what I suggest you do is you switch over to your Eraser tool.
Now you can go to the effort of applying a layer mask if you want to, but the Eraser tool seems fine for this purpose. After all we are just painting in a quick sharpening effect. We can go ahead and erase away the effect as well, it seems to me. I am going to increase the size of my cursor by pressing the Right Bracket key and they'll press Shift+[ a couple of times in order to reduce the hardness just a little bit, because by default the Eraser tool is set to a Hardness of 100%.] the bad sharpening that I have applied to the background, because I don't want to exaggerate the noise.
You could even select regions using something like the Lasso tool if you want to and delete those areas. I will press Shift+[ a couple more times to reduce that hardness even further, so we have a Hardness value of 0% at this point. Then when you feel like you've got all the background touched up like so, then switch back to one of your selection tools like the Marquee tool for example, and then you might press let's say the 6 key to reduce the Opacity value to 60% so that we have a more mitigated sharpening effect.
So this is before, this is after. If you feel like you've still gone too far like I think I'm bringing out some weird pixel detail inside the eyes, then I would switch once again to the Eraser tool and this time I will reduce the Opacity of the Eraser by pressing the 5 key for 50% for example and then I will paint in the eyes in order to back off the effect right there. So it's not a perfect tool by any means, but my goodness, what a top secret hidden addition to Photoshop CS5, we are making nothing out of the fact that they have taken the worst tool absolutely ever inside of the program and made it much, much better.
That my friends is our tour de force of sharpening inside of Photoshop CS5.
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