How to Use the Sharpen Tool in Photoshop Elements 9

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

The Sharpen tool in Photoshop Elements increases the contrast among adjacent pixels to give the illusion that things are sharper. This tool should be used with restraint, however. Sharpen can quickly give way to overly grainy and noisy images if you’re not cautious. Use a light hand and keep the areas you sharpen small.

1Choose the Sharpen tool from the Tools panel in Edit Full mode.

Press Shift+R to cycle through the Blur, Sharpen, and Smudge tools.

2Select a brush from the Brushes Preset Picker drop-down panel.

Use a small brush for sharpening smaller areas of the image.

3Select a blending mode from the Mode pop-up menu.

You have several choices, including Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity.

4Choose the strength of the sharpening effect with the Strength slider or text box.

Use a low value, around 25 percent or less.

5If your image has multiple layers, select Sample All Layers to make Elements use pixels from all the visible layers when it produces the effect.

The sharpening still appears on only the active layer, but the look is a bit different, depending on the colors of the underlying layers.

6Paint over the areas you want to sharpen.

Sometimes, the eyes in a soft portrait can benefit from a little sharpening. If you don’t like the results, press Ctrl+Z (cmd+Z on the Mac) to undo the changes and lower the Strength percentage.