Sharpen the edges of a portrait without sharpening the skin. This sharpening technique detects edges and applies sharpening only to the edges.

To start, we’ll apply a simple sharpening to the image.

Edge Sharpening Photoshop Tutorial

Step 1

Open a photo you would like to edit. Or, you may use the photo used in this tutorial (from iStockPhoto).


Step 2

Duplicate the layer and apply your desired sharpening technique on the new layer. Some basic sharpening tools are available in the Filter> Sharpen> menu. For this tutorial, we will use the luminance sharpening technique which only sharpens the grayscale data and leaves the color data untouched. However, to do this, we’ll need to change the image mode to LAB color. Because changing the image mode too much will affect the image quality, in the next step, we’ll create a duplicate state to apply the luminance sharpening to.

Step 3

Create a duplicate of the image. In the History pallet (Window> History), click on the Duplicate State button (duplicate-state-button).

Duplicated Image

Step 4

With the new image file, apply your desired sharpening technique. I will be using the Smart Sharpen filter (Available on Photoshop CS2+ only) on the luminance channel. Go to Image> Mode> Lab Color to convert the image to Lab color. Then, press Ctrl+1 to select the luminance channel. The image should now appear grayscale. Go to Filter> Sharpen> Smart Sharpen and use the tool to sharpen the image. If the Smart Sharpen filter isn’t available, use the Unsharp Mask filter (Filter> Sharpen> Unsharp Mask) instead.

Smart Sharpen

Step 5

Select Window> Tile Vertically or Tile Horizontally (either one is fine). The two documents should now be side by side. Activate the window with the sharpened image. Click on the Background layer in the layers pallet and drag the layer to the window with the original, unsharpened image.

Tiled Windows

Now you should have two layers; one with the sharpening applied and one without.

There should be two layers in the original document.

Edge Detection

Before we can filter where the sharpening is visible, we need to find the edges of the image.

Step 6

Zoom in to about 300% so that you’re able to clearly see the fine pixel-sized details. Notice the grain on the skin caused by sharpening in the photo below.

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3 responses to “Edge Sharpening”

  1. Bob Avatar

    your a who stays on photoshop 24/7.!!!

  2. me Avatar

    wow, nice

  3. me Avatar

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. Very helpful…
    Keep a good work…

    Again, TQ so much!

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