Using the Sharpen Tool in Photoshop

February 24, 2017

Do you use the Sharpen Tool in Photoshop? Prior to CS5, this tool was likely to create artifacts when used; however, improvements in CS5 reduced this likelihood. Available in both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, the Sharpen Tool can be quite useful at times, enhancing details and sharpening areas selectively without having to use a mask.

Here’s how:

  • Create a new blank layer above the object you would like to sharpen. Make sure to keep that blank layer selected as the active layer.

  • Select the Sharpen Tool.  This Tool is on the Left Menu Bar, nested with the Blur Tool.
  • In the Options Bar (top of the screen), choose a Strength, and check “Protect Detail” and “Sample All Layers.”

Screenshot from CC2017:

Screenshot from PSE15:

I would like to sharpen the eyes in this photo of my granddaughter.

  • Adjust the size of the brush relative to the size of the area you would like to sharpen. I would like to sharpen Emily’s eyes and have adjusted the brush size accordingly.


  • Now click or drag with your mouse over the area you would like to sharpen.  Repeat, if more sharpening is desired. I clicked 3 times on Emily’s eyes.

Control the sharpening by changing the Strength Value or lowering the opacity of the Blank Layer, if desired.

Such an easy way to do a Quick Fix!

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  1. Judy

    Sweet… I have to say I know I have all these tools at my fingertips but never any time to play with them. I love your tutorials because they make me stop and take a closer look at things and you make it so easy. Thanks for sharing…


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