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Chapter 14. Sharpening > How Sharpening Works

How Sharpening Works

To sharpen an image, choose Filter > Sharpen. Photoshop will present you with a submenu of choices. The top three might sound friendly (Sharpen, Sharpen More, Sharpen Edges), but ignore those and go straight for the bottom one (Unsharp Mask). It's the only one that allows you to control exactly how much the image will be sharpened. You can think of the other choices as being simple presets that just enter different numbers into the Unsharp Mask filter.

The reason Unsharp Mask has its confusing name is because way back before people used desktop computers, they sharpened images in a photographic darkroom. They would have to go through a process that involved a blurry (unsharp) version of the image. This would take well over an hour (don't worry—in Photoshop it takes only seconds) and would not be much fun. The process they'd go through in the darkroom was known as making an unsharp mask, so Adobe just borrowed that term.


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