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Thread: Sharpening Mask

  1. #1
    Ken Curtis's Avatar
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    Sharpening Mask

    Masked Sharpen Procedure in Photoshop
    =====================================

    I started a new forum post rather than responding to BCrose and GiacomoD in a post "Bored in BC" where I mentioned using a sharpening mask to eliminate the harsh lines that appear due to sharpening already sharp edges. This probably belongs in another section, so if Donald decides to move it or eliminate it, I hope he will mention that in a private message to those two individuals.

    This description is used to prevent over-sharpening existing edges while still significantly sharpening non-edge portions of an image.

    Before getting started, you should know there is a nice tutorial on sharpening on Cambridge In Coulour's web site at http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...sharpening.htm

    I used Photoshop CS6 for this procedure.

    The first image is the original pre-sharpened image.

    Sharpening Mask

    Step 1: Select the Blue Channel only by turning off Red and Green Channels.

    Step 2: Right click the Blue Channel and choose Duplicate Channel. Accept the default name and click OK.

    Step 3: Turn on the new Blue Copy channel (click the eye) and turn off the normal Blue channel (click the eye). The image will appear black and white.

    Sharpening Mask

    Step 4: From the main menu, choose Filter > Stylize > Find Edges. You will now see an image where all the edges are various shades of black. The sharpest edges will be the darkest, and the less prominent edges will have shades of gray.

    Notes:
    A.) In the mask we are creating, the lighter the area, the more sharpening will take place and the darker areas will be less sharpened.

    B.) If there are areas that you do not want sharpened, use the paint brush to paint black over those areas. For example, sometimes sharpening the background can be distracting and takes away from the main subject. You can paint the background area black to keep it less sharp while you sharpen areas of the main object.

    C.) You can use a levels adjustment to darken or lighten the areas. Use keyboard Ctrl(Cmd) and 'L'. Another thing you can do is to make a pure black and white mask with no shades of gray by setting a threshold. From main menu, choose Image > Adjustments > Threshold

    Sharpening Mask

    Step 5: From the main menu, choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the radius to 2.0 pixels before clicking OK.

    Step 6: Save this channel as a mask. Do this on the channels pane (window) by clicking the circular dots icon at the bottom. After clicking you will see the dashed lines all over the image.

    Step 7: On the channels pane, turn on all the color layers (by clicking the eye to the left of RGB) and turn off the Blue Copy channel (by clicking eye). You will now see the selection on the colored image.

    Step 8: Save this selection. From the main menu, choose Select > Save Selection. I name the saved selection Sharpen Mask.

    Step 9: Next create a new layer with pixels. If the only layer in your project is the background layer, right-click it and choose Duplicate Layer. If you have layers above the background layer, or do not have a background layer, choose the top layer and then using the keyboard, hold down Ctrl(Cmd) + Shift + Alt(Option) and then press the 'E' key. I like to use smart layers, and to do this, right click the new layer and choose Convert to Smart Object.

    Notes:
    A.) If the selection disappeared off the screen, you can restore it from the main menu. Choose Select > Load Selection. When the dialog appears, click the Channel drop down and choose Sharpen Mask. You should again see the dashed lines all over the image.

    Step 11: Expand the image to 100% and scroll to an area that you want to view during the sharpen process.

    Sharpening Mask

    Step 12: Choose a sharpen option from the main menu. I prefer the smart sharpen option. From the main menu, choose Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen.

    Step 13: On the dialog that appears, choose the sharpen amount. I typically use between 80% and 120%. Choose the sharpen radius. I typically use between 1.3 and 2.6 pixels. Choose what you are sharpening, which will normally be Lens Blur. Then click OK.

    Step 14: Deselect from the main menu by choosing Select > Deselect. Adjust image size on screen to your liking.

    Here is a view of a section of the original unsharpened image.

    Sharpening Mask

    Here is a view of the same section sharpened. Note that there is a light line around the top the church and the intersection of the land and sky. This is probably the result of some sharpening that I did in previous processing steps. It is less than what you would have seen if the mask were not used.

    Sharpening Mask

    And here is the full image sharpened.

    Sharpening Mask

    Here is my caveat. Results will vary depending on sharpening and noise levels in the original image and the settings and type of sharpening you choose. Use at your own risk! I recommend practicing this technique until you get a feeling for settings and images that work well for you.
    Last edited by Ken Curtis; 31st January 2013 at 12:22 PM.

  2. #2
    kdoc856's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Thanks, Ken for taking so much time to go through this. It's a really intriguing process, but please tell me you dont do this with all your landscapes.

    How much time does this take once you have the process down pat? I'm going to have a play with this and decide if I'd do it regularly, or save it for a shot I expect to make me world-famous

  3. #3
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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Thank you so much Ken.
    At a first glance, it seems to me feasible also in GIMP, but I have to try.
    I will be out for work for a few days, when I'll be back I will try to apply it to one of my shots and I'll share the result here!

    Thanks again

    Giacomo

  4. #4
    Ken Curtis's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Quote Originally Posted by kdoc856 View Post
    Thanks, Ken for taking so much time to go through this. It's a really intriguing process, but please tell me you dont do this with all your landscapes.

    How much time does this take once you have the process down pat? I'm going to have a play with this and decide if I'd do it regularly, or save it for a shot I expect to make me world-famous
    Kevin, it takes only a minute. Seriously. I set up some actions in Photoshop, so at the click of a button half the work is done. I make a few adjustments to the mask, and then click another action button, and like magic, it's done and ready to go.

  5. #5
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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Thanks again for your time Ken. Created an Action and it works fantastic.

    Appreciate the sharing!

  6. #6

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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Like the way to improve my images, also this post will help me find it again faster.

    Cheers:

    Allan

  7. #7

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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Thanks Ken! I've subscribed to this thread. It might be a long time before I will be good enough at PS to use your instructions - but I'm sure they will come in handy down the road.

  8. #8
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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Thank you for sharing.

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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Okay, I am using CS5, and I gave this a go....but when I got to step 9, it did not create a new layer....so I was stuck from there.....is there something missing ? If I don't use the keyboard shortcuts, how would I create a new layer with pixels???? Thanks. The process is interesting, and does not take that long.

  10. #10
    Ken Curtis's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Nat, was the top layer selected when you pressed the keys?

    Regarding keyboard shortcuts, I think the only way to create the layer is with the keyboard. I couldn't find a menu option that did the same thing, although maybe if I spent more time, I could. I think it's one of those Adobe hidden tricks.

  11. #11

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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    In step 9 are you still in the channel mode? or do you switch back to Layer? What is highlighted (chosen) when you do #9? I can't create the layer. It's okay. I just googled the command, and there is a gliche sometimes and the command might not work in CS5. SO.....guess I'm not going to be able to do this sharpening. But thanks, anyway.
    Last edited by Nat; 31st January 2013 at 12:40 AM.

  12. #12
    Ken Curtis's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Nat, I made a mistake. When I wrote the procedure, the project already had multiple layers from earlier processing. I learned it makes a difference if you only have a background layer in your project or if you have layers above the background or no background layer. I edited the procedure step 9. See if this works for you. Sorry for the confusion.

  13. #13

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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Okay, I tried your method.....and this is a crop from the After and Befor images, tell me if you think I did it right? I can see where creating an action for this would be great. Hope you don't mind me posting this here for your advice?

    Sharpening Mask
    Last edited by Nat; 31st January 2013 at 11:26 PM.

  14. #14
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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Will you share your action?

  15. #15
    Ken Curtis's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    Okay, I tried your method.....and this is a crop from the After and Befor images, tell me if you think I did it right? I can see where creating an action for this would be great. Hope you don't mind me posting this here for your advice?
    Nat, I don't mind your posting other photos here. It helps everyone who reads this thread. It looks like the technique worked quite well for you. There are no white lines at the edges, for example around the railings at top of lighthouse and at edge between the lighthouse and trees, and yet you've certainly improved the details in the non-edge areas of the image. Well done.

  16. #16
    Ken Curtis's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Quote Originally Posted by ultravista View Post
    Will you share your action?
    Sure I will. Send me a private message on this website giving me your real email address and I will send to anyone who wants a copy.

  17. #17
    Ken Curtis's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Just wanted to let everyone know that I created a PDF file giving the sharpening details. If you would like a copy, please send me a private message giving a real email address where I can send the document. I also have a file of Photoshop actions that you can load and use. Ask for them too if interested.

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    Re: Sharpening Mask

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Curtis View Post
    Just wanted to let everyone know that I created a PDF file giving the sharpening details. If you would like a copy, please send me a private message giving a real email address where I can send the document. I also have a file of Photoshop actions that you can load and use. Ask for them too if interested.
    Hi Ken,

    Here's an initial test following your workflow. Looks ok to me.
    Used CS2.

    Thanks for the files Ken.


    Sharpening Mask

    ( Sorry, was too excited. forgot to save the original image. will do another image.)

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