Ah, if only they had asked you to blur it, losing detail would be easy. But doesn’t sharpening mean bringing in more detail? Not really—it is the perception of detail brought about by crisper differentiation within the image. Take a look at Figure 1.You can download this image from the book’s companion web site.
This is similar to some work I did on the tornado sequence for X-Men 2
Check out the image at 100 percent on a Mac by double-clicking the zoom icon in the toolbox or pressing Command+Option+0; press Alt+Ctrl+0 if on a PC. (Those are zeroes in the key combinations.) Going to View > Actual Pixels in the menu bar also results in the same thing. The window’s title bar should indicate that the image is at 100 percent.
You want to see it there so you can see the true results of your sharpening. Figure 2 nshows the image at 100 percent.
Double-clicking the zoom icon resizes your image to 100 percent
You can sharpen an image in so many ways: Switch to Lab mode and sharpen the lightness channel, selectively sharpen one or more RGB channel, apply the Unsharp mask to the image, among others. I go over two methods I like because they work for a wider range of sharpening with fewer artifacts
Method 1: Using the Unsharp Mask Filter
This is a good, solid, simple method to sharpen an image and works under most circumstances. I usually start with the Unsharp Mask filter to see how far it can go and to determine whether I need additional sharpening techniques. Although it may seem counterintuitive to use something called the Unsharp Mask filter to sharpen an image, this term has its roots in the photographer’s dark room, when a blurred version of the image was used to sharpen a photograph.
Creating a new channel
Although you copied a color image, it becomes grayscale when you paste it into a new channel layer.
Find Edges shows where there is the most contrast. The dark lines are where there’s already high contrast
Remember that the white areas are the selected areas later.
Look at the color image by clicking over to the composite RGB channel and switching back over to the Layers palette, which is shown in Figure below.
Use the channel as a selection to sharpen the color image.
Watch for the introduction of noise (if Threshold setting is too low) and use the real-time feedback as you adjust values.
The Before and After using the Unsharp Mask filter for sharpening
But wait—the client wants to work with you on getting just the right level, so try it a different way.
The High Pass MethodThis method allows for easy tweaking and a more extreme sharpening without affecting the color too much.
Generally, small values work best in most cases. The maximum entry is 250. Your image looks gray with some colored edges.
The High Pass filter removes low-frequency data in an image, resulting in an edge detail effect. This filter can also be used to create line art.
You use this layer on top of the original image by changing the layer mode
The layer blend modes are located at the top of the Layers palette. Make sure you have your layer selected, and choose a mode from the drop-down menu.
Compare the differences between these modes, each of which is shown in Figures
This is the original painting.
This is the High Pass layer that you created above the original at 100 percent normal blending mode.
This is with the High Pass layer at 100 percent overlay. This gives good sharpening, but it is still a bit crunchy.
This is with the High Pass layer at 100 percent Hard Light. This is too noisy and the sky is a bit too crisp and crunchy.
This is with the High Pass layer at 100 percent Vivid Light. Way too crunchy, but this is one that a lot of beginners choose because it is so noticeably different from the original.
Speaking of too much noise, this looks like a bad print job from the 70s. Setting the High Pass layer to 100 percent Linear Light is out of the question.
It looks like Overlay is the best layer blend mode for the original photo, which is shown in Figure. I have reduced the High Pass Layer Opacity to 70 percent in Figure to get rid of the halos (look closely at the mountain and cloud edges in Figure) and to reduce the popping whites of the buildings on the ground. For production, I would go further and reduce the noise and mute the bright baseball diamond-like dirt.
Compare this original to Figures below of this figure. Notice the subtle differences that make a big impact and all without reducing the overall sharpening effect
100 percent overlay.
70 percent overlay
The original is leftmost and the tutorial should result in what you see rightmost.
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Adobe Photoshop Tutorial
Preferences And Settings
Customizing Your Workspace
Starting With Color Maps
Tiling And Transformations
Matte Paintings From Pictures
Quick Fixes For Common Problems
Masks And Mattes
Noise And Grain
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