How to Sharpen Images in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

All sharpening tools in Photoshop CS6 operate by increasing the contrast between adjacent pixels. If you look at a sharpened image side by side with the original version, you see that no new information has been provided. Instead, the contrast is boosted so edges are more distinct. The dark parts of the edges are darker; the light parts at their boundaries are lighter.

Photoshop has six main sharpening features, only five of which are actually filters, on the Filter→Sharpen menu. The sixth (the Sharpen tool) isn’t a filter, strictly speaking. It is a tool in the Tools panel and is more like a paintbrush that lets you sharpen areas selectively by using strokes.


How to use the Basic Sharpen Filter in Photoshop CS6

The Sharpen filter in Photoshop CS6 is best used for minimal touchups in small areas. This single-step filter increases the contrast between all the pixels in the image or selection. Although this filter makes the image look sharper, it can add a grainy look to solid areas that aren’t part of the edges.

How to use the Sharpen More Filter in Photoshop CS6

The Sharpen More filter, a single-step filter in Photoshop CS6, increases the contrast between pixels even more than the regular Sharpen filter. Like the Sharpen filter, Sharpen More is best relegated to noncritical sharpening because it doesn’t do a very good job of sharpening large areas. Also, it doesn’t provide the control you need for more intense projects.

How to use the Sharpen Edges Filter in Photoshop CS6

The Sharpen Edges filter is a single-step filter in Photoshop CS6 that’s superior to the Sharpen and Sharpen More filters because it concentrates its efforts on the edges of image elements, adding sharpness without making the image grainy or noisy. It’s best used for quickie fixes.