Emboss Sharpening

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Always examine sharpening results at 100%.

Original image.

Using High Pass

Using Emboss

Every digital image needs some level of sharpening before it's printed, saved to the Web, or output to its ultimate use. Many sharpening techniques exist, from Photoshop's Unsharp Mask (USM), "edge-sharpening" variations where the USM filter is applied in Lab mode, plug-ins, and countless actions. As for which is best, there's probably no right answer and it's better to add the tools to your armory, try them out, and decide with your own eyes.

So, here are two more techniques to try. They are very similar and both rely on two Photoshop filters and on blending modes whose neutral color is gray. The two filters, Emboss and High Pass, make the image gray, but with distinct edges. The gray is then eliminated by setting the layer's blending mode to Hard Light, leaving just a sharpening effect whose strength can be easily fine-tuned.

l In the Layers palette, duplicate the original image layer by dragging the background layer onto the "Create a new layer" icon, or use Ctrl/Cmd-J

2 Use View > Actual Pixels or the shortcut Alt/Opt-o Zoom to view the image at 100% Move around the image until you can see an important area—the subject's eyes, for instance

3 Using the pull-down blending mode menu in the Layers palette or the shortcut Alt/Opt-Shift-H, change the duplicate layer's blending mode to Hard Light and rename it "Sharpening " You can do this step later, but doing it now means that you can see the final result in step 4

4 Now select either:

a) Filter > Stylize > Emboss The most important setting is Height—this should be between 1 and 5

b) Filter > Other > High Pass Any radius between 2 and 10 can work well.

5 To check the effect, toggle the layer's visibility If it is too strong, adjust the Sharpening layer's opacity Other finishing touches might include adding a mask to the Sharpening layer and painting it black where you don't want any sharpening effect

A radius value of 10 is enough for the High Pass filter

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Sharpening with Htcjh Pass 10


A Height value of 2 is enough for the Emboss filter to create a sharpening effect

Always examine sharpening results at 100%.

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Original image.

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Style icon

Subtle High Pass

Light Emboss

Use enough sharpening to sharpen the image, but not so

Here, I experimented with a high radius of 30 in the High Pass In this example, the Emboss filter was used with the much that it appears unnatural A radius of 5 in the High Pass filter The effect was so unnatural that I had to reduce the filter was enough for this detail layer's opacity.

height set to 2, it has sharpened the image, while keeping it looking realistic filter was enough for this detail layer's opacity.

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O Hard Light 50

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  • tanja
    Is emboss a blend mode?
    4 years ago

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