In this tutorial I’ll show you a unique approach to high pass sharpening that will help to bring out details like skin texture and other fine elements for portrait, architecture or landscape images. The benefit of this approach is that it prevents the harsh transitions and fringing in high-contrast areas often seen in the traditional high pass approach.

In the video I’ll demonstrate the process for actually performing the sharpening but for ease of use, I’ve created an action for making it nice and simple. Click here to download the action.

The action and technique will work in Photoshop CS3 and beyond and I do highly recommend using it in 8 bit mode to ensure that it runs in a timely manner. 16 bit will work but takes some time due to slow Photoshop algorithms.

Version 2 Update info – The action has been updated with two new features. The first is a “16 bit Express” version which offers faster performance in a 16 bit environment by utilizing an 8 bit smart object (no loss in sharpening quality) as a temporary host for the surface blur. I’ve also added a “VSB-Sharpen-CC” action which will auto-detect the bit mode of the image and run the correct action. The above link has already been updated to the latest version.

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The action can be downloaded here