Understanding the conventional sharpening workflow
Understanding the conventional sharpening workflow
So I was saying in live action introduction, I believe in a flexible sharpening workflow. I believe you can sharpen at different phases in the development of an image and you want to keep your sharpening non-destructive if possible. But before we go down that, before we see the more flexible sharpening approach, I want to explain the conventional approach that suggests that you should sharpen once and only once at the end of the cycle and that sharpening is usually applied as a flat effect. So I'll walk through the conventional workflow inside of this exercise. I'll demonstrate it in the next exercise and then look a sense of what's wrong with it after that and some better approaches as well.
So I am working inside of a slide called 'Conventional Workflow' that's found inside of the 02WhentoSharpen folder and we are going to examine the basically the four big broad steps here. The first step, I'll reveal it, is to edit the image, to apply whatever edits you are going to apply to an image. So perform any and all edits in the image's native colors space, which is most likely RGB. So you are probably going to be starting with a red, green, blue image as opposed CMYK but you never know. Everybody's workflow is a little different in that regard.
Assuming best practices, your composition will contain non-destructive edits applied as independent layers. So of course you want to keep your modifications as non-destructive as possible, use adjustment layers, use Smart Objects, that sort of thing. Next, you would flatten the image before you go to print it. Now this assumes that you've already saved all layers, alpha channels, paths, Layer Comps, everything else in the PSD format, the native Photoshop document format. I suggest you turn off Maximize File Compatibility.
There is this check box that comes up as you'll see in the next exercise, and what that does is that embeds a flat version of the image inside the larger file, which can increase the size of the document by a third or a half. It's a big waste of space, especially if you are not going to be doing anything with that file aside from just saving your modification. You are not going to be directly importing that file into Premiere or InDesign or one of the other Adobe products. So just go ahead and turn it off in order to minimize the file size, it's not going to hurt anything, you can was always turn it on it later and then go ahead choose Layer, Flatten Image.
So this again first thing you do before you flatten the image, as you go ahead and save it in the PSD file format or update the file by using the Save command, then you choose Layer, Flatten Image. Then you turn right around, after you have flattened that image, after you have no layers left, you turn right around and go ahead and choose the Save As command and save the flat image as a separate TIFF file. That way you don't overwrite any of the stuff you did in the layered composition. The next step is to resample the image. So this assumes by the way that we are going to print, that we are going to printing the image.
So you want to resample it, you'd use the Image Size command under the Image menu, with the Resample Image check box turned on to adjust the dimensions and resolution of the printed image. So you are trying to basically specify that you want to print the image at 8x10, for example, at 300 pixels per inch, something long those lines. Now I suggest you downsample, which is to say you reduce the size of the image only. There is no benefit to upsampling for print. There is no sense in adding pixels and I will show you what I mean in the next exercise, but if you want downsample, that's fine.
If you are thinking of upsampling, don't. Just go ahead and turn off the Resample Image check box and then enter your new dimensions. If it turns out to be a low resolution image, fine, you didn't have the pixels to work within the first place, don't make them up, it doesn't do you any good. Then finally the next step would be to sharpen and convert the image. So right at the end, after you have done all this other work, and again this is the conventional sharpening workflow, this is not the workflow I necessarily recommend. It does work to a limited extent, but it's not the best approach.
Now you would apply the desired amount of sharpening to counteract the softness introduced by re-sampling. When you downsample an image, you typically soften the image a little bit. There are ways around that inside the Image Size dialog box. I don't recommend them though. I just would stick with bicubic interpolation and then apply your own sharpening after the fact and you also want apply that sharpening to anticipate the print resolution. You need to anticipate the fact that the image is going to become smaller when it's goes to print. If the image is bound for commercial reproduction that is, process color output, then you convert it to CMYK. That's the only time you convert it to CMYK by the way. You do not convert to see CMYK if you having Inkjet printer or a laser printer or any other local device, only if you are handling it off to a commercial print house and of course you are specifically outputting the process colors, cyan, magenta, yellow and black. And even then some print houses will allow you to submits RGB images and they'll take care of conversion of CMYK.
But when in doubt you'd want to convert it to CMYK or talk to your print house. So that's the conventional approach. I am going to demonstrate the conventional approach, have no fear, in the very next exercise.
Understanding the conventional sharpening workflow provides you with in-depth training on Photography. Taught by Deke McClelland as part of the Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images
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