Help Please...I have really fouled up!!!!!

Started Nov 18, 2006 | Discussions thread
Oak and Acorn Veteran Member • Posts: 6,124
Emboss Sharpening Workflow Part I

This is for Ray, a person who has contributed so much to these forums, and a person whose work and character I greatly admire.

Please realize - this method may or may not work perfectly on your image. Obviously, this extreme form of sharpening is somewhat counter-intuitive to what many would think of as an appropriate method for sharpening one's image. It's only meant to be used as a sharpening tool in the most extreme of cases where all hope is 'almost' lost. You could call it 'Refocus Sharpening' if that sounds a little better. :)~

  • Open up your image

First, open your image up in Photoshop (can be done in Paint shop or PSE as well), as long as your image editor has an Emboss filter that is easy to use, adjust, and preview the results before applying it.

  • Do your other corrections first

I would highly recommend that you do any minor fixes to your image at this point. I know it may seem pointless to correct color or levels on such an out-of-focus image, but if Emboss Sharpening works to your liking, you want to make sure that all of your image's other attributes are to your liking first before proceeding with the sharpening process.

  • Now, duplicate your original

On this 1st duped layer (left at Normal for now), run your Emboss filter. This is very important - your Emboss filter needs to provide you with a good, clear preview of your embossing, so you can make adjustments before applying. I know that some embossing filters don't provide very good previews, but PS's Embossing filter is perfect for this.

On this first Embossed layer, I usually set Height to 3 pixels, and Amount to 100% (don't worry about ever changing the Amount % unless you really want to experiment). The Angle is where you will play around with it.

The Angle can be any direction that looks best to you. Watch the preview of your image as you change the Angle of the Embossing. You want to achieve a nice 3-dimensional look without having edges that are too heavily defined. What I mean by this is that when Embossing, you can quite often get edges with very distinct black (dark grey), or white edges - you want to avoid this as much as possible by changing the Angle of the Emboss. These overly defined edges are what will cause your haloing if you over do it. (See example images)

Incorrect, over-done edges:

Smooth, correctly defined edges:

  • Set to Overlay & move the Embossed Layer around a bit

Select your Move tool, click on you Embossed layer, and move it around one click at a time using your (up, down, left, right) arrow keys. Go in any direction that seems to bring your image closer to being in-focus.

If you are completely happy with the sharpening of your image using this one Embossed layer, then go on to the Noise Removal Step, if not then don't worry, just use the first Embossed layer to get as good a focus as possible for right now.

  • Duplicate your original again

Drag this 2nd duped layer and place it above your 1st Embossed layer in your layers pallet. Leave it at Normal.

Run Emboss on this 2nd duped layer, but this time you want to play around with the Angle AND the Pixel Height. For Ray's image I set the Pixel height on this 2nd layer to 5 and changed the angle around slightly (you can leave the Angle the same if you want too).

Again, once you've achieved a desired looking Embossed effect, set this 2nd layer to Overlay. Choose your Move tool and move this 2nd layer around (in small steps) until you achieve as focused an image as possible. Toggle your two Embossed layers on and off from time to time to view how they are affecting your image. Don't worry too much about some areas of your image having overly defined edges (such as face lines, etc...), you can soften these with the Blur tool later if needed.

You should be able to achieve a fairly in-focus image with just these simple steps. You can utilize as many Embossed layers as you want, but realize the more Embossed layers that you stack on top of each other, the messy your image is going to start to look. It might work for you though so don't hesitate to experiment.

Continued in the next post…

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