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3.5 Output Sharpening

In this lesson you'll learn output sharpening techniques, which is when you sharpen your image at the end of your workflow before you print it. You want it to be a very slight adjustment, because we’re not trying to drastically change the appearance of our image, but rather to preserve the crispness of the image on the printed page.

3.5 Output Sharpening

In this lesson, we're going to first crop our image and then we're going to discuss a couple of output sharpening techniques. This is when you sharpen your image at the end of your work flow, before you print it. We want it to be a very slight adjustment because we're not trying to change the appearance of the image per se. Chances are you've already sharpened your image, when you were in the photo editing process before. And so rather, we're trying to preserve our image's appearance when it's printed on paper. Keep in mind that you're sharpening settings can vary depending on your image, as well as what kind of paper you're planning to print on. Before you sharpen your image for printing, make sure you crop your image down to your desired print size before hand. Sharpening should be done to the image at whatever you want your final print size to be. This is because scaling your image up or down within the print settings dialog box is not best practice. It's way too easy to make a mistake, especially when batch printing. So if your image is too small, it could be pixelated, and if it's too large, it'll be over sharpened. The image should be adjusted to your desired output size before you sharpen it, and so that's what we're going to do right now. Let's go ahead and crop our image down to 8 by 10, and so I'll select C on my keyboard for the crop tool or that's this icon in your toolbar, and then, I'm going to set the aspect ratio for our crop box, and so we'll set it for 8 inches by 10 inches. And so in this example scenario, this will be our desired size. And then, I'm going to adjust this box to include the most important information in this image. And you can click and drag it, or you can use your arrow keys, which is what i'm doing. And then when I'm done, I'll select return. And now that we've cropped it down, we're going to adjust the resolution size. And so let's head up to image and then image size. And here, we're going to set it two inches. And so we have the correct aspect ratio for an 8 by 10, but you'll see that it's larger than an 8 by 10. And so for the width, we're going to put in 8 inches and you'll see that that also adjusts the height in order to keep it the same aspect ratio. And so you'll see that our image now is basically 8 by 10 inches. And then I'm going to select OK, and there we are. At this point, let's explore the two ways that you can sharpen your image for printing. First, we're going to use the unsharp mask option and then, we're going to use smart sharpening. And so let's head up to Filter, and then Sharpen, and we'll select Unsharp Mask. Unsharp mask places a darker line and a lighter line along the existing edges of an image, thus making it appear sharpened. Now within our unsharp mask pane, make sure your preview window is set to 100%, so that we can get a more accurate visual as we make our changes. And also, you'll want to utilize this preview box. It shows you your starting point, and if you track it, it'll show the the work as you're working. And we'll get an area of detail within our preview box here. Okay, so, the first thing I'm going to do is slowly increase the radius. And as I do this, you'll see those changes reflected in our preview box here. And I'll bring it up just a little bit more. And then within the preview box, I will uncheck it and check it. And also as I'm checking and unchecking this box, the changes that I'm making are being reflected in this larger image here. And so I'm doing this ever so slightly by eye, because remember, we don't want this to be drastic. And I will leave it at, we'll try 2.7 here, just ever so slightly. And we'll compare the before and the after. And I think this is a little bit too sharp, and so I'm actually going to take it down. And we'll take it to 1.75. And I'm going to move the preview image around a bit, just to see how those details are being reflected on her face. I'm going to leave the amount at 180% and the threshold at 0 levels. And so here we have our image. And this is what we started with and this is where we're at now. And so there's an easy way to slightly sharpen your image in preparation for the printing process. Now next, we're going to explore smart sharpening and because we're going to do this instead of pressing OK, I'm going to click Cancel, so that those changes aren't done. Smart sharpening is a newer option introduced in Photoshop CS2. And it gives you a bit more control than unchart mask. And so, let's head up to Filter, Sharpen and this time, what you're going to select, Smart Sharpen. And as you can see, we have quite a few more options than we did with the unsharp mask option. Smart sharpening gives you much more control, although it can take longer to do, which is something to keep in mind if you have a larger number of images within your workflow. And I'm going to position my image, so that I can see her in the background. And also so that I can see the smart sharpen preview window. And for my preview pane here on the left, I'm going to leave that at 100% and get a vital area of her face within that. And we will be working with the preview box again. Now this is also something that you want to do by eye and with smart sharpening. As soon as you open this box, it applies a certain level of sharpening to your image. With the radius in particular, you'll see that it's at 1.8 pixels. I'm going to bring that down to 0, just so that we get a better idea of our starting point and then, I'm going to adjust it from there. And so from 0, I'm going to bring it up ever so slightly. And I'm increasing the width of the sharpening effect itself. And so here I have it at 0.7 pixels and then for the amount of sharpening, they have it increased to 177%. I'm going to bring that down ever so slightly. We'll try 160 within our preview check box, I'm going to uncheck that box and take a look at what we started with. And then this is where we're at right now. And so the change is ever so slight. I am however going to increase the radius, so that we're able to see more of a change, and just to remind you that, at this point, with your own photos, you would have probably, already sharpened your image. And so, this sharpening effect here is supposed to be very, very subtle and help your image more closely match, what we see on our monitor after we've printed it out, and so as you can see, it doesn't take much. And one more look at our before and our after. And at this point I'm going to select OK. And we will let it apply the smart sharpen filter, and then we'll be all set. And that brings us to to the end of this lesson. In this lesson, we cropped down our image to the desired print size. And then we went on to apply sharpening to our photo. In our next lesson, we'll go ahead and save our file for print.

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