How to sharpen photos in Photoshop? Example and instruction

How to sharpen photos in Photoshop? Example and instruction

In this lesson I’ll show you how to increase the sharpness in the Photoshop in detail, where it is necessary with a needed intensity. It is also an effective tool for the quality improvement of  the final shots, that we will review now. 

For the better understanding of the process, right from the moment of pressing the shutter button, I propose to look at the sequence of processes taking place inside your camera.


Passing through the optical system of the lens, the image is projected onto a digital photosensitive matrix.

The image from light waves is converted into a digital pulse with the help of a digital matrix and a processor that generates a digitized signal.

As a rule, editing processes, such as sharpening, reducing noise, increasing contrast, etc., proceed until the digital source is converted to Jpeg. Many cameras can not 

shoot in Raw or Tiff format, but there are lots of those that allow you to turn off the digital processing, in order to carry it out on the computer. 




Noise reduction. 


Contrast enhancement


By turning off the digital processing, which consists of these above-mentioned processes, you keep the original informativeness of the code as much as possible. Initial informativeness positively affects the quality of the image edited on a computer with more advanced algorithms than in the camera.


Step-by-step instruction for the second image processing in the Photoshop.


Performing the third stage of the digital processing, you can take advantage of the  expanded opportunities discussed in the article “Processing photos in Photoshop”, we also consider here a simple method for the increasing sharpness throughout the field of the shot.

Let me remind you that we want to create a detailed sharpening method that allows us to create a sharpness brush.


This is this method of detailed sharpening that I use for the photo editing, because it is the most flexible and convenient tool when working with any subjects, from portraits to macro scenes.


Maximum of informativeness


There are a few recommendations for providing the best processing result:


1.Turn off the sharpening inside the camera, because it copes with this much worse than a computer and Photoshop, and besides, sharpening the entire field of the shot causes a proportional increase in the noise component.


2.When shooting, set the maximum resolution and minimum compression of the image, so you save maximum information about details and colors.


3.If your camera supports shooting in Tiff or Raw format, use them at the entire processing stage, with the subsequent conversion to jpeg.


How to increase the sharpness in the Photoshop flexibly and in detail


Let’s suppose that we have in our arsenal the simplest camera that can only shoot in jpeg format. 


1.So let's get started, and for clarity, we will take a macro shot of a butterfly and load it into the Photoshop. 

I use the Zoom Tool to enlarge the composition element we will work with to a comfortable size.


2.Press CTRL + J - we create a duplicate of the source layer and call it Layer by default


3.Now we apply the sharpening filter to the newly created layer 


Filter> Sharpen> Smart Sharpen


In the opening filter panel - Smart Sharpen, we adjust the settings in accordance with the screenshot, after that we confirm the settings by clicking OK

In the previous action, we sharpened the entire field of the shot, but we need a detailed sharpening, only on a butterfly and a flower, and the rest of the composition does not need sharpening. In order to set the sharpening area, we need to create a mask.


4. At the bottom of the panel - Layers, click on the Add layer mask icon and create a mask for - Layer 1


5.In the side bar, we click once on the Set foreground color icon, as a result, the Color Picker panel opens. We need a radically black color.


6.We choose the Paint Bucket Tool (fill) by pressing the G button.

We fill our composition, so as a result of these actions, the mask will turn black and the sharpness will return to the original value.


7. Now we change the working color to white, through the Color Picker properties


8. By pressing the B key, we select the Brush Tool. We adjust it according to the screenshot, but the Size parameter has an individual value, depending on the resolution of the details.


9.Now you need to draw all the elements of the composition on which you want to increase the sharpness.  

In our case, we draw a butterfly and a flower. 


If you want to change the filter exposure - Smart Sharpen, then this can be done with the help of the Opacity parameter (for example, we will draw a second flower with a transparency of 50%


 10) In the last step we save the work :

 File> Save As  


Choose the format of the saved file, in our case it is Jpeg



To sum up : 


In the lesson on how to increase the sharpness in Photoshop, we examined the method for a detailed increase in the sharpness and intensity of the filter using layers and masks.


Also, using a specific example, we learned how to apply different filter intensities - Smart Sharpen to different parts of the composition, so the butterfly and the first flower are processed with an intensity of 100% and the second flower -50% and the rest of the composition - 0%.

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