After you've retouched your image (Chapters Chapter 8, Chapter 9, and Chapter 10) and resized it (Chapter 6), it's time to sharpen. If you've ever peeked inside the Filter menu at the top of your screen, you've probably noticed a whole set of filters devoted to sharpening. They include:
Sharpen, Sharpen Edges, Sharpen More. When you run any of these filters, you leave the sharpening up to Photoshop (scary!). Each filter analyzes your image, tries to find the edges, and creates a relatively narrow sharpening halo (see Figure 11-1, bottom). However, none of these filters gives you an ounce of control, which is why you should forget they're even there and stick with the next two filters instead.
Smart Sharpen. When you see three little dots (…) next to a menu item, it means there's a dialog box headed your way (and when it comes to sharpening, that's good!). Luckily, this filter has those dots. Smart Sharpen lets you control how much sharpening happens in your image's shadows and highlights and lets you pick which kind of mathematical voodoo Photoshop uses to do the sharpening. The Smart Sharpen Filter discusses this filter in detail.
Unsharp Mask. This filter has been the gold standard sharpening method for years because, until the Smart Sharpen filter came along in Photoshop CS2, Unsharp Mask was the only one that gave you dialog box–level control over how it worked. Most folks still prefer this method because it's easy to use and quick (it runs faster than the Smart ...