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What Do the Shadow and Highlight Sliders Do in Photoshop Smart Sharpen?

smart_sharpen_photoshop_01Its the go-to sharpener for many but it holds a little mystery. In this tutorial I’ll take a look at those sliders that are hidden away in Photoshop Smart Sharpen.

By default the Shadow and highlight sliders in Photoshop Smart Sharpen are closed. If you’ve been brave enough to twirl them open it might not be immediately apparent what they do, so lets take a look;


Fade Amount

This allows you to set how much of the Shadows or Highlights should be sharpened. The fade amount is how much sharpening should be reduced, so 20% Fade amount leaves 80% sharpening.

Noisy Shadows?

Head to the Fade amount and set the slider to 100%, leaving 0% sharpening in the darker areas of the image.

Tonal Width

With the Fade Amount at 1% or more the tonal width instructs Photoshop how to distribute its sharpening. Set at 50%, the default,  it’ll sharpen evenly across the tones.  Lowering this will sharpen only the darker tones (shadows) or lighter tones if you adjust the Tonal Width in the highlights.

Still with me?


This is the width that Photoshop should look from an edge to analyse for shadows or highlights.


About Eric Renno (434 Articles)
Eric’s background in video editing with Adobe Premier led to his interest, and then obsession, with Photoshop. Starting TipSquirrel.com as a hobby he is proud to have gathered together and be a part of The Photoshop Nuts. Known as only “TipSquirrel” for two years, Eric ‘went public’ when he was a finalist in The Next Adobe Photoshop Evangelist competition. He’s also been a finalist in Deke’s Techniques Photoshop Challenge. While still taking on some freelance work, Eric has recently become a Lecturer at Peterborough’s Media and Journalism Centre where he enjoys sharing his knowledge as well as learning new skills. This realisation that he loves to teach has made Eric look at altering his career path.

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