How to Sharpen Images in Photoshop (Quickly & Flawlessly)

How to Sharpen an Image in Photoshop

How to Sharpen Images in Photoshop

(Quickly & Flawlessly)

Are you struggling with sharpening your images in Photoshop or looking for a quick and simple way to sharpen your photo in just a few seconds (with no fuss)?

If so, you're in the right place!

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to beautifully and flawlessly sharpen your images in Photoshop in less than 30 seconds with no guesswork involved.

Ready? Set? Let's go! 

Painted Sky Overlays

1. Open and Flatten Your Finished Image

Once you are done editing and ready to sharpen your image for a polished and perfect finish, make sure the image is open in Photoshop.  If your image has layers, you will want to flatten your layers and save it as a NEW file.  You can flatten your layers by navigating to the top menu bar and selecting Layer>Flatten Image.

2. Create a New Layer

You will now need to create a duplicate of the background layer by selecting Layer>Duplicate Layer or pressing Cmd/Ctrl+J (a Photoshop keyboard shortcut).  This step is important because the next step CANNOT be applied to your background layer.

How to Sharpen in Photoshop

3. Adjust High Pass Filter

Navigate to your top Menu Bar and select Filter>Other>High Pass.  You will notice that your image turns a gray metallic color.  This is OK and is just temporary...I promise!

Move the slider in your High Pass pop-up screen until you only see the outline of the important details.  You don't want to see the outline of the fine details!

How to Sharpen a Photo in Photoshop

4. Change the Blending Mode

Change the blending mode of this layer to get rid of the metallic look.  To do this, click on the Blending Mode drop down menu at the top of your Layers Panel and select Overlay.

Sharpen Photo in Photoshop

5. Preview the Sharpening Effect (and Adjust as Needed)

Turn the little "eye" next to this Layer on and off to preview the sharpening effect.  If the sharpening appears to overdone, simply bring your Layer opacity down to your desired sharpness.

Sharpen Photoshop

Bonus Tip: Selectively Applying the Sharpening Effect

After adding your sharpening layer in Photoshop as described above, you may want to remove the sharpening enhancement from certain areas of your image.

The good news is that this is easy to do using a layer mask.  To do this, simply add a layer mask by choosing Layer>Layer Mask>Hide All or pressing the rectangle icon with a circle in the middle at the bottom of the Layers Panel while holding the ALT key.

Sharpen Tool Photoshop

Next, select the Brush Tool using the Photoshop keyboard shortcut "B".  Then set your foreground color to white by pressing keyboard shortcut "D" and then tapping "X".

Lastly, with the new layer mask selected, paint over the areas of your image you'd like sharpened.  Once you're done, don't forget to save your image!

Now if you are more of a visual learner, or want some additonal help with sharpening in Photoshop, watch our tutorial video below:

How to Flawlessly Sharpen your Image in Photoshop - Video Tutorial


If you'd like more help using Layer Masks, check out the following tutorials!

How to Use a Layer Mask in Photoshop

How to Speed Up Your Photoshop Workflow Using Layer Masks

Do you have any questions or comments about Sharpening in Photoshop?  Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you.  And PLEASE SHARE our tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

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