Quick Guide: Two-Pass Sharpening in Photoshop

The steps below summarize the two-pass sharpening technique described in “Out of Gamut: A Two-Pass Approach to Sharpening in Photoshop.”

STEP 1: Sharpen to Correct the Image


  • Duplicate your image, using Image>Duplicate… and leaving the original image open
  • Convert the duplicate to grayscale (duplicating one of the color channels using the Channels palette often works well)
  • Isolate the edges using Filters>Stylize>Find Edges
  • Apply a Gaussian Blur to soften edges and reduce noise
  • Invert the mask, by choosing Image>Adjust>Invert
  • Exaggerate the contrast of the mask using Image>Adjust>Levels


  • Make the original image active, by selecting it from the Window menu.
  • Load the edge mask into the image by choosing Select>Load Selection and making sure the name of your duplicate file is entered as the source document


  • Press Command-H (Mac) or Control-H (Windows) to hide the selection outline
  • Sharpen the selection defined by the mask using Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask…
  • Press Command-H (Mac) or Control-H (Windows) to restore selection outline (to avoid unintentionally acting only on the selection again)

Step 2: Sharpen for the Output Device

  • If necessary, use Select>Deselect to turn off edge-mask selection
  • Sharpen as appropriate for your output device


Posted on: March 20, 2001

1 Comment on Quick Guide: Two-Pass Sharpening in Photoshop

  1. The original article has more useful information for ranges and adjustments. Use original article if you can find it.

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