photoshop creative

Boost colours and sharpness

Posted in:
Magazine, by The Photoshop Creative Team
May 16, 2011

We all have images that suffer from dull colours or soft edges. Here’s a quick and easy technique for turning these images into crisp and bright versions of their former selves.

Colour and detail; two elements that can make or break any photo. If one is missing, the other one better be something special to compensate. If both are weak, you know you are in trouble. But all is not lost! This neat little trick can do wonders for a shot that is a little too dull as well as being a bit soft. It can infuse the image with life and give it a pop that demands attention. That being said, it cannot perform miracles. If the photo is devoid of colour and detail, this won’t help. There has to be something there to work with. If that is the case with your image, we encourage you to try this technique out.

This walkthrough appears in the 5-minute Fixes feature in issue 74 of Photoshop Creative.


Create a copy of the Background layer to work with. Go to Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask and work with the settings until you can see some details from the image being revealed. In this example we used an Amount of 72%, Radius of 4.8 pixels and Threshold of 5 levels. Your results may vary depending on the image.


Add a Vibrance adjustment layer by clicking the Vibrance icon in the Adjustments palette. Pump up the Vibrance slider, then increase the saturation. Beware of blowing out the colour tones. If needed, use the layer mask that’s automatically added to paint out the adjustment where it is not required.


Now create a composite layer on the top of the stack by pressing Ctrl/Cmd+Alt+Shift+E, and then on this new layer go to Filter>Other>High Pass. Enter a setting of 3 pixels and press OK. Change the layer’s blending mode to Overlay to give a final touch of edge sharpening, and your image should be infinitely improved.

  • BroXn_ReflXn

    Awsome tip for a new workflow action perhaps! Thanks a lot!