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Using Filters to Sharpen and Soften

Category: Photoshop, Tools, Video
Mar 13

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How to Create a Crisp Look

In this episode I cover the best ways to sharpen your images for the web using the Unsharp Mask and High Pass filter in different blend modes. These effects can also be used to soften an image creating a focal point. The best way to know how much or little to add depends on the resolution, so its always a good idea to edit them based on the size they will be viewed later.

Today’s Episode Timeline

  • 0:55- Unedited image
  •  1:45- Unsharp mask
  •  3:30- Sharpening for the web
  •  4:10- Resizing
  • 6:15- Using these tools for focal point
  • 7:00- High pass filter
  • 8:00- How to use blend modes for added effect
  • 9:20- High pass filter to soften the image

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  • http://elvio.com.au Daniel Snare

    Excellent tutorial, never thought of inverting the high pass filter, thanks Aaron

  • http://twitter.com/bboudreauphoto Brian Boudreau

    I use High Pass but I use it as a smart filter. The inverting is a great tip thanks

  • http://twitter.com/Jameswarwood James Warwood

    great tutorial. i always struggle with sharpening :/

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/25DGQ3KAGN2JCZBY2IEAKJJ5LE Eirikur

    okey. here is one crasy way to sharpen.

    freaky amazing detail technique..

    do 2 copy of the layer. group them.
    change the group layer from passthrough to overlay
    now change the top layer to vivid light and change it to smart layer
    then you ad surface blure to the layer,
    the radius dose the same. and the threshold is the value.

    the benfits is that you get less halo when sharping.
    downfall, its very slow way. and it will eat all that memory you have, muhaahaha!!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/58947799@N05/ Ian Arneson

    What about sharpening in Camera RAW, would you recommend doing your sharpening before photoshop or while in PS? It might just depend on the image but I was just curious. 

  • Epiphany_media

    Canon cameras…factory saturation levels for standard picture style is oversaturated. They do this because consumers want bright colorful images. Create a User Defined picture style with standard as base but knock the saturation level down one point on the graph. The sharpening is solved by shooting with L Series lenses….shutter speed always double the focal length….use a lightmeter and set a CWB…and in the image that was shown…a reflector on camera right would fill the right side of the model so it doesn’t appear so harsh and dark.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/janesampsonphoto janiecakes

    That was a good tutorial, I always used high-pass with overlay or soft light blend modes, but didn’t realize it effected my colors.  I will remember to desaturate next time and see what difference it makes. 

    Also, I like the cheesy inverted high-pass look :)   It’s kind of like using a diffusion filter on your lens.

  • http://www.flickr.com/uw-eric Eric Burgers

    I like the cheesy look as well!

  • Guest

    Great episode man thanks!  Is Dean Bradshaw still going to do a Pro episode?
     

  • http://www.facebook.com/EspinalPhotography Franklyn Espinal

    Hello, everybody.
    I’d like to share this PS Action I created.  I apply it to all my images.
    Judge for yourself.  Make sure the image is high resolution.
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6538264/High%20Pass%20%26%20Sharpen.atn.zip

    Enjoy and drop me a line or two if you like.
    http://www.flickr.com/Espinal

  • Mikael Wahlin

    Why its called Unsharp Mask is well explained here (http://photodoto.com/why-is-it-called-unsharp-mask-when-it-sharpens/)

    “The name comes from the original photographic procedure used to increase the apparent sharpness of a photograph on film. First the original negative was copied and turned into a positive (In a negative, black is white and white is black. In a positive, it’s the other way around.). During the copy, the positive was intentionally blurred. This is where “unsharp” comes from. Then the positive and negative were put in contact and exposed to light again. The blurry portion of the positive cancelled out (masked) the blurry portion of the negative.”

  • Instant Hunter

    This is so helpful! Thank you!

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Random Tips

Want to see the exact size of the brush when you are painting painting in PS. This is not turned on by default. To change this, go to “Edit” >> “Preferences” >> “Display and Cursors”. Set the settings for the cursors to Brush Size.

aaron