This VIDEO will show you how to get the most dynamic and sharpest images in your printed marketing material. This is a two-step Photoshop sharpening technique that will show you how to create the sharpest images without creating noise in smooth midtone areas of your photographs.
This is one of my favorite Photoshop sharpening tips in reproducing beautiful photography on press. All images are not as sharp as they can be when converted from raw files. These days there is a lot of post image processing that needs to be done with digital images. One of the key things that is overlooked is how sharp the image is. We now work with incredibly sharp LCD displays and images seem to jump off the screen. Unfortunately, when an image goes through the RIP (raster image processor) process in prepress, the image is naturally softened in the screening process.
Remember, your photography is only as good as the printer you choose!
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Today, we’re going to talk about one of the greatest Photoshop sharpening techniques to take your photographs from a good photograph to a great photograph.
[0:13] Notice the transition there. This will demonstrate how to take a great photo and make it into a true high definition color print when it’s printed on press.
[0:25] All right, let’s get started here.
[0:27] As you can see, I am working in the LAB color space right now. You can work in RGB and get the same results. I prefer using LAB. Just keep in mind you want to convert to CMYK at the very last moment so always work in RGB or LAB.
[0:43] First things started, we’re going to do a Select All and we’re going to copy and create a new Alpha channel here and paste our document or image into our new Alpha channel.
[1:03] We select that and we’re going to Filter, Stylize and click the Find Edges. Now what Find Edges will do is look at all the sharp contrasting points in the image and basically highlight those and create a line drawing for you.
[1:21] From here, we’re going to go on to our curves, which is our Command M and we’re going to alter this channel.
[1:30] First thing you want to do… In a nutshell, what’s happening here… We’re going to sharpen the darkened areas. The white areas will not be sharpened so we’re going to maintain our smooth, crystal clear, creamy midtones and not create any noise in there from excessive sharpening.
[1:49] First thing, you’d want to grab our shadow end of our curve and bring this over all the way up to 50%. At the same time, you’d want to take our highlight end of our curve and bring this up to about 20% or so.
[2:09] You can see right now we’ve created a much higher contrast now in this line drawing. And again just to make another adjustment here, we want to make our black areas a little wider as possible so we’re going to add some more density to that black and kick it up. You can see they’re almost intersecting each other.
[2:29] At this point, we’re going to click OK and we’re going to go into Filter and create a Gaussian Blur on this image. The blur will spread the black areas to create a subtle transition between these smooth areas and the sharpened areas.
[2:50] So, select Gaussian Blur and use anything… I prefer to use two and a half pixels. That seems to work fast for me. So, select 2.5 pixels and click OK.
[3:04] Now back to curves again. You could see we softened up the image.
[3:07] Now we go back to curves and harden up that edge a little more. So we’re going to bring our shadow end of our curve all the way up to 50% again. You could see how much darker we made that so we’ll get more sharpening in the areas. There is no information in our white areas here so those areas will not be affected by the Photoshop sharpening filter. Click OK.
[3:32] At this point, we’re going back to our full color image and go to Select and Load Selection. Notice we’re going to select our Alpha channel that we’ve created and click OK. Now that selection is brought to place. We’re simply going to hide the selection just to save on our eyeballs there.
[3:57] And now we’re going to do our sharpening. The selection is going to just isolate the areas that we want to sharpen. Go to Filter, Sharpen and I’m a huge fan of Unsharp Mask. It goes back to the old days of running the old color drum scanner. At this point, I’m going to play around with the amount.
[4:21] Now the amount is how much the adjoining pixels are affected. I like to go real high on this number, anywhere between 150 and 200. For this tutorial, I’m going to select 200 and it’s a high number but keep in mind we’re only affecting those images in the selection itself.
[4:41] You’d want to keep the radius anywhere between half a pixel to one to one and a half. If you go any thicker, you’ll create a severe halo effect around your images. If you’re looking for an artistic point of view, you may want to do that but I would not ever recommend doing that. So we’re going to stick to one pixel.
[5:06] Our threshold determines which pixels are sharpened and which are not. A higher threshold value means that there’s a huge contrast difference between pixels that are affected. Since we have our selection, it’s a moot point so it really doesn’t matter. So I’m going to stick with a threshold of zero.
[5:26] You can see as I move through the image and click on and off, you’ll notice that there is a great deal of sharpening happening in the contrasting areas but look at the midtone areas. They’re perfectly clean and not affected at all. Just an incredible cool little tool to utilize to create dynamic looking photographs. So click OK and we are done.
[5:53] At this point, we’ll go ahead and save our image and just to show you up close, we’ll zoom in here and you can see the difference between the two. Turn on… And turn it back off again… And turn it back on. Just an awesome looking sharpening job.
[6:15] OK, thanks for tuning in. Look back for more tutorials in the future. Take care. [/learn_more]