Sharpening with Blur

Sharpening with blur, It did sound really weird in my ears, how is it working for you. For a long time I’ve tried to get my head around why this Photoshop technique is so powerful as it is, but have yet to understand why. What i think is that it increases the harshness of the areas that makes up the contrast contours, much like when sharpening with high pass filter+overlay, but should you know more, then drop me a mail, I would like to know more.

It is my experience that this effect works best when applied at a subtle level, otherwise it easily becomes horrible unnatural to look at. The weakness is especially severe when it comes to darker regions, or regions where the contrast already is high. For the very same reason I do not recommend using actions made by others, as you want to be in full control of the effect. But do not worry, the technique isn’t as complicated as people like to make you think.


The starting point is a layer in Photoshop that holds all information, should you have made other adjustments prior to this technique, then it is essential to get them merged onto one layer, this is done by Selecting the top layer and hold Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E. Dont worry this consolidation isn’t static but more an expression that reflects the layers below it.

What you want to do next is copy this layer twice, use Ctrl-J or Command-J.

Select the two new layers, shift+click to select them and them press Ctrl+G to group them. I like to call this group “Blur Sharpen” but you can call it whatever you like. As you can see have i Introduced a mask on the group folder, in order for me to cancel out the effect, where I find it unpleasing.

eksempel 3

Change the blending mode of the group, to “Overlay”

eksempel 2

The rest we are going to do is op the first layer in the group. So make sure you have this selected.

Turn the layer into a smart object, this allow us to make changes to the effect if needed.

and select “Vivid Light.”, then invert this layer by pressing Ctrl-I. And now we want to sharpen this layer with Surface Blur, this is done by Filter > Blur > Surface Blur. Keep it subtle and the numbers small, Radius: 10-15 Threshold: 10-15


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