tdenham's blog

Selective Photoshop Sharpening

posted by tdenham, May 29, 2006 9:41 PM — 20 comments

This process involves working with two layers in photoshop. I'll refer to them as a lower layer and an upper layer. Don't worry, layers are not as difficult as some of you may think. This looks like a lot of words, but just work along with me and you'll find this is really very simple and well worth the payoff. I used Photoshop CS2, however this should work basically the same with versions down to seven, or even lower.

This is one of many methods to selectively sharpen a photo, however my method is presented in an effort to show one of the many ways that may be the most effective and simple for you.

Here is a sample of before and after. Note that these are extremely close crops. Doing this to the full image will have an even more dramatic photo enhancing effect!



In the After photo above I intentionally oversharpened the eye to help emphasize how this procedure works. Notice above that the eyebrow area and skin around the eyes do not have the typical effects of oversharpening. Portraits with sharp eyes really make the photo much more pleasing because people tend to look at the eyes first.

1 - Open a photo you wish to work on in Photoshop. After the photo is open select Window, Layers (or press F7) to bring up the layers window. The layers window is useful to help visualize what you’re working with and shows the layers. Your view should be appear similar to this layout:

2 - With the new photo open, create a copy of the photo in your buffer by selecting the the entire photo (CTRL-A), then copy the photo (CTRL-C) to the buffer.

3 - Now sharpen the current image by selecting Filter, Sharpen, Smart Sharpen..., either with smart sharpen or use the unsharp mask. Either way. Note that at this point you can sharpen slightly more than you normally would do.

4 - Now paste the image from the buffer (CTRL-V) to overlay the original soft image over the sharpened image. You will now have two layers, the lower layer is the first sharpened image and the top layer is the softened image, which we will erase parts to expose the lower sharpened parts.

5 - To expose the sharpened parts select the Eraser Tool from the toolbar icon and set the opacity to about 40% to 50%, then erase around areas you would like sharpened, such as the eyes, mouth, etc... This will leave the parts of the photo alone that do not need sharpening.

6 - After you finish adjusting the photo you can now select Layers, Flatten Image to convert the photo to a single layer and then save the work under a new file name to indicate that it is the new and improved sharpened image.

You should now have a much better and sharper looking image. Congratulations?

Comments | RSS

1. posted by tuoitho, Oct 23, 2009 10:27 AM

I find it easier to select the area's I want sharpened with the lasso tool and add a lot of feather to the selected parts.
Some unsharp mask, and done it is.

2. posted by leonbidon, Jul 5, 2006 9:05 PM

I find it easier to select the area's I want sharpened with the lasso tool and add a lot of feather to the selected parts.
Some unsharp mask, and done it is.

As my old father allways used to say: "Why do it the easy way if there is a difficult way as well". Or something along that line (I never listened to my father :).

3. posted by manoj, Jun 3, 2006 9:25 AM

This is good !
You are cheating the
computer by trick!
Good !
Very good!

4. posted by clix, May 30, 2006 5:56 AM

Thanks, it looks great!

5. posted by berent, Jun 27, 2006 8:44 PM

Very helpfull

6. posted by mterraza, Jun 23, 2006 1:56 PM

That's it master! Always ahead...and thx.

7. posted by cdw0107, Jun 26, 2006 6:48 AM

Thank you very much. Im just brand new at photoshop and this helps me lot.

8. posted by Devstop, Jun 26, 2006 8:19 PM

Great tutorial, Will use!

9. posted by trixtergod, Jul 17, 2006 1:48 PM

why not just use the "sharpen" tool from the tool bar? it allows you to sharpen with your choice of brush...

10. posted by ABTNZ, Jul 19, 2006 4:46 AM

could you not achieve exactly the same thing by using 'layer masks'? As far as I know, they're there for exactly this kind of thing

11. posted by soorajtr, Jul 19, 2006 8:06 AM

there will be many way for doing this may be

but this is the easy and good way i ever heared

thank u very much and looking forward for more tips/tricks

12. posted by azenhas, Jul 22, 2006 11:18 PM

Thank You!
Its very simple and straight forward!


13. posted by zidan, Jul 23, 2006 11:10 PM

thanx big fisher, good tut

14. posted by kyo1234, Sep 20, 2006 12:01 AM

it works ofcause : )
but I'm surprised that so much people didnt try it so far alone :)

15. posted by a_kartha, Sep 23, 2006 7:35 AM

Hey, very interesting way of achieving it. I just tried it out, and it works much better than the new fangled method I was using.

Great tute, and well presented!

16. posted by floris_, Nov 3, 2006 6:32 PM

wow quick simple and usefull. ty

17. posted by escan, Aug 21, 2010 3:59 AM

Thank You!!!

18. posted by iamabdus, Oct 25, 2010 6:36 AM

Great post! hotoshop/

19. posted by trainer2, May 31, 2013 9:19 AM

Very interesting and informative...and not just the subject matter, the post was helpful too. Snoogins.

20. posted by trainer2, May 31, 2013 9:21 AM

Awesome PaL!

You have to log in to add comments to this post.

freeimages blog archive

RSS feeds

All blog posts
Tutorial posts only


» Add your own post!

Recent blog comments

The Best of HiRes Photo Sharing Worlds
Nov 6, 2013 3:44 AM inizjall wrote
morgue is good option

Cloudy Scotland
Nov 6, 2013 3:43 AM inizjall wrote
thank you so much michel

Flayer Brochure
Nov 6, 2013 3:43 AM inizjall wrote
good share

Free Christmas mistletoe wreath with bells
Nov 6, 2013 3:42 AM inizjall wrote
perfect for christmass

Valentines Day Backgrounds
Nov 6, 2013 3:41 AM inizjall wrote
such a romantic background

This site uses cookies

By continuing to browse freeimages you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more here.