This is the latest and most sophisticated sharpening panel from The Light's Right: a Photoshop CS4 panel with 43 presets tailored for different output media and resolutions. The presets fall in four broad categories: halftone press, continuous tone printers, inkjet printers, and Web/multimedia.
The output sharpening with the TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel combines two sharpening tools: Unsharp Mask (USM) and High Pass. To save resources, both are applied to a single Photoshop CS4 Smart Filters layer. The overall blend for the layer is set to Luminosity by default to reduce color shifts. The High Pass filter gets its own layer blend, too. By default, that is an Overlay blend, although you can choose Soft Light or Hard Light to adjust the sharpening effect.
Here is a below/after sample:
The TLR Pro USM panel integrates well with Photoshop. You can dock it with other Photoshop CS4 panels, like the Adjustments panel.
The TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel is only compatible with Photoshop CS4 and later. It relies on technology from Adobe Labs that was not available until CS4. In fact, the TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel relies on not just one but two emerging technologies from Adobe Labs: the Adobe Panels SDK and Adobe PatchPanels.
With Photoshop CS4, you can preview changes to your photograph as you make adjustments to the Unsharp Mask settings, the High Pass filter settings, etc. Effective sharpening relies on more than USM and High Pass settings in isolation. Layer blend mode, layer opacity, and especially the Blend If settings from the Layer Style palette can have a significant visual impact on the overall sharpening effect. With the TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel, you can preview the total sharpening effect from all these settings. You can, for example, make USM and High Pass filter adjustments and at the same time adjust the Blend If settings and then with a single click, see the total effect on your photograph.
There are three views: Unsharp Mask, High Pass, and Blend Ifs. There is a small pop-up menu button in the bottom left corner to navigate among those views.
To move among the panels, just click on the little arrowhead and a menu will open. Select the view you want to adjust.
The TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel can be docked like the Adjustments and Masks panels that ship with Photoshop CS4. Just load it and drag it over where the other panels are docked. After that, when you open Photoshop, the TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel will be there.
The TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel works with RGB, CMYK, Grayscale, and L*a*b modes. Few Photoshop plug-ins support L*a*b or even CMYK. With L*a*b mode, Lighter Color and Darker Color will be substituted for Lighten and Darken blends. Lighten and Darken are not supported for images in L*a*b. The USM sharpening effect with L*a*b mode is applied just to the Lightness channel.
There are three buttons at the bottom center of the panel. They control layer masks and layer visibility.
As a convenience, the TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel includes some layer mask functionality. To add a layer mask for even more control over the sharpening effect, there must be an active selection. This can come from another tool, like the TLR Edge & Surface Masks action set or the scripts in the TLR Professional Mask Toolkit. Then press the button for Apply Layer Mask. The TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel can also invert the current layer mask and toggle layer visibility on and off.
There is also an About box. It is accessed from the flyout menu in the upper right corner of the panel.
Settings are not automatically applied as they are changed by the user. There are many possibilities, and applying sharpening effectively is typically done through simultaneous adjustment to several settings. Just press the Apply Settings button in the lower right corner to apply the settings.
The TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel uses Smart Filter technology. This speeds the application of sharpening adjustments. You can adjust the zoom of the photograph and see the full sharpening effect with this panel as you make adjustments. You can also toggle off the sharpening layer's visibility from the panel to see before/after effects.
If the active layer is named TLR Pro Output Sharpening, the settings will update the Smart Filter layer when they are applied. Otherwise a new layer is created.
Full preview of sharpening adjustments is more flexible with the TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel than it is with the sharpening filter dialogs in Photoshop. With Photoshop, you can change the USM settings or the High pass filter settings but other adjustments, like Blend If settings, are inaccessible simultaneously. Not so with the TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel. You can easily view the total sharpening effect as you make adjustments with the TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel.
The panel supports both "sticky" settings and presets. There are several presets that ship with the panel. You can add others. Presets save all of the details -- USM settings, High Pass filter setting, layer blend, layer opacity, and Blend Ifs. To make a new preset, there are just a few steps:
You can also delete presets that you add. The default presets cannot be deleted.
If you want to change the settings for one of your presets, simply delete it and then add a new preset with the same name.
If you select a preset and then customize it, the preset will change automatically to (None). When there is no active preset, the last settings become sticky. They become the default the next time Photoshop starts. If a preset was active, those will be the defaults.
Adding the TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel is easy. There are four files. Just add them to the Plug-Ins\Panels folder under your Photoshop CS4 installation.
If you want to keep your panels nicely organized, you can add them to a subfolder. Here's an example of the Plug-ins\Panels folder with subfolders for each CS4 panel.
If you did all of this with Photoshop running, exit Photoshop. Otherwise, fire up Photoshop and go to Window | Extensions. You should find USM as an option there. Click on it, and the panel should open. You can now dock it, if you prefer.
Comments and suggestions for future releases are appreciated. Feel free to use the comment system. The TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel is the foundation for future CS4 panels from The Light's Right.
You can download TLR Pro Output Sharpening panel by clicking here . . .