Sharpening Images in Photoshop Elements {Part 2}

Recently I did a quick tutorial showing  you my favorite way to sharpen, the High Pass filter technique, but promised to bring you another post showing you an alternate way to sharpen. This time I am going to talk about the Unsharp Mask filter technique. 

Steps to take when sharpening with Unsharp Mask:

    • Finish ALL your editing and have saved your image uncropped
    • Crop your image to the size you want, then make a duplicate layer (control/command + j)
    • Go to Enhance, Unsharp Mask
    • When dialog box comes up you have three sliders to change:
      • Amount: this is the amount of sharpening you want applied (what is really happening is that dark pixels are darkened, light pixels lightened)
      • Radius: this is a buffer of sorts, it is how far out you want the sharpening to go from each area of definition. A low radius means it will only sharpen pixels right next to the areas, large radius means it larger area will be sharpened.
      • Threshold: this is how different a pixel needs to be from surrounding pixels before sharpening is applied. Make the threshold too low and everything is sharpened, not always a good idea.
      • Adjust the layer opacity to suit and then flatten and save the image.

Some good Unsharp Mask “recipes” via Scott Kelby:

      • Portrait sharpening: amount – 75%, radius – 2 px, threshold – 3 levels
      • Still life and/or landscape sharpening: amount – 120%, radius – 1 px, threshold – 3

Note: I did this tutorial on an image with some simple ACR tweaks, and it was not fully edited. I did the steps to sharpen, but did not save.

About Amanda

I am passionate about helping others learn how to use their DSLR cameras and editing programs. More information about me can be found at my About page, or by visiting my personal blog.


  1. Such great info girl… I had no idea how to do it in Lightroom!

  2. Kathy Geddie says:

    Good job — making it simple!


  1. […] Sharpening Images in Photoshop Elements from Everyday Elements blog […]

  2. […] One more thing to remember about resizing – you want to sharpen AFTER you resize, not before. I have tutorials on sharpening HERE and HERE. […]

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