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Sharpen Smarter in Photoshop – How to Make Any Sharpening Tool Non-Destructive

In the video tutorial below, I am going to show you how to use any sharpening method (including your own favorite one) and make it non-destructive so that it works in exactly the same way as High-Pass sharpening but with a much higher sharpening quality.

Photoshop’s High-Pass sharpening is still used by so many people for the mere fact that it offers an elegant way to apply sharpening non-destructively on a separate layer. The sharpening itself is not nearly as good as that of the best dedicated sharpening tools available today. But these tools (like Photoshop’s Smart Sharpen) are inherently destructive which affects your workflow negatively, limiting your flexibility and costing extra time.

So, the dilemma is that you can either have a fast, flexible workflow (with the High-Pass filter) or state-of-the-art sharpening. Having both at the same time seems to be impossible…

…but it’s not!

Here’s How to Sharpen Smarter in Photoshop

In a Nutshell…

We’re creating a copy of your image layer – let’s call it the ‘sharpen’ layer. To this layer, we’re applying the sharpening tool of choice. Then, we use the Apply Image command in Photoshop to subtract the original layer from the ‘sharpen’ layer and set the blending mode of the resulting layer to ‘Linear Light’. Done!

That’s how simple it is! Watch the video to see the whole process and a lot more about different ways to sharpen your images.

…oh, and download my free action set below to automate the process.

Download the ‘Smarter Sharpen’ Action Set

I decided to create a set of actions that allows you to automate this method in your workflow. The actions come with a set of pre-configured sharpening methods that you can easily turn on or off. You can even extend the action set with your own preferred sharpening method and have Photoshop apply it non-destructively.

Please watch the video below where I explain how to install, use and extend the action set.

Now it’s Your Turn…

If you have any question or suggestion, feel free to leave a comment below and let’s discuss it. What is your favorite sharpening method and what do you like about it? Have you tried the ‘Smarter Sharpen’ Photoshop Actions? Are they helpful to you?

It’d be awesome to hear from you!

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11 Comments on "Sharpen Smarter in Photoshop – How to Make Any Sharpening Tool Non-Destructive"


Guest
Garry Pycroft
9 months 26 days ago

Either I have an internet problem (I am in a hotel in Korea so that is possible) or the videos are actually not available

Guest
Garry Pycroft
9 months 26 days ago

OK thanks I’ll have to try later

Guest
9 months 26 days ago

Hallo Klaus,

tolles Video, sehr lehrreich. Mein Kompliment.

Das Tool “Bildberechnungen” kann man ja auch für viele andere Anwendungsbereiche anwenden.
Wenn ich “Bildberechnungen” außerhalb von Einstellungsebenen (Helligkeit, Tonwertkorrektur, Gradationskurve etc.) anwende, dann setze ich vorher eine neutrale, weiße Maske ein, bevor ich eben “Bildberechnungen anwende.
Der Vorteil ist der, dass der Effekt standardmäßig zunächst auf die Lichter angewandt wird. Mit “Strg -I” kann ich danach diesMaske umkehren und so den Effekt auf die Mitten und Tiefen verlagern.
Ich habe diesen Workflow noch nicht auf Dein Beispiel mit dem schärfen angewandt, aber ich glaube, dass es auch da eine zusätzliche Kontrollmöglichkeit bietet, ohne großen Mehraufwand.

Lange Rede, kurzer Sinn: Dein Tutorial anwenden und zusätzlich vor “Bildberechnungen” eben noch eine eine weiße Maske auf die Ebene anlegen, um am Ende zwischen Lichtern, Mitteltönen und Schatten wählen zu können.

Wie immer natürlich abhängig vom jeweiligen Bild.

Ich persönlich schärfe grundsätzlich nämlich Himmel, Bäume und Wiesen etwas weniger als andere Oberflächen.
Ich denke, mit eben dieser Zusatzmaske kann man das noch etwas feiner steuern.

Aber wie erwähnt – wieder ein sehr gutes Tutorial von Dir.

Freundliche Grüße (und frohe Ostern): Harry

Guest
Shane Christensen
9 months 26 days ago

Awesome stuff Klaus! Really enjoy your approach to education in photography.

Guest
Juan Renta
9 months 25 days ago

Klaus–thank you so much for another valuable instructional video and for the free action set!

Guest
Kristie de Jong
9 months 22 days ago

Thank you so much for the actions. However, I am finding that when I go merge the tool layers together I lost the sharpening actions