I've read about 'creative sharpening', a step in between raw sharpening and output sharpening, but it strikes me that this goes against the principles behind sharpening after you resize.

If you wanted one area of the image to pop more and you were going to creatively sharpen it, something commonly done with model's eyes, wouldn't it be best to do this after the resize?

So wouldn't creative sharpening before resize be a mistake? Or is it just usually not realistic to do this for each resize/format you may need the image for?


2 Answers 2


The reasons for doing sharpening as the final step are primarily because the intended output media determines what sort of sharpening is applied, the idea is that you are compensating for any softening that will occur during printing, or resizing for the web.

However, sharpening is more or less a cumulative effect. This means that if you sharpen the eyes as part of regular editing, when you apply your final sharpening pass, say after resizing for the web, the eyes will still be relatively sharper than the rest of the face, i.e. resizing softens all areas more or less equally, it doesn't "reset" the image sharpness.


Im pretty sure creative sharpening is in Lightroom's workflow. The sharpen above the denoise tab is this. The radius of this step will be a sharpen the details such as hairs and textures and the radius is depending on your resolution, like a 10MP image is something like 1.5-2 radius and 20-30MP is something like 2-3 radius to counter lens/sensor blur. This is before the resize and you need to balance the denoise and sharpen to bring out the details you want.

When you export or print you get output sharpening which is a 1 radius sharpen process after resize.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking more of selective sharpening using masks in photoshop (perhaps applying clarity in Lightroom). Such as when you want to sharpen selective elements like one building more than others, or a person's eyes but not the rest of their face, and other more ideas to direct a viewers attention. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2013 at 22:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ ah yeah, the not output sharpening is (on full res) is the one you'd do selectively. when lazy I use the threshold mask to avoid making the bokeh and other soft spots look weird, other times I use the brush. Still with higher radius on the full resolution, so resizes all get the modification. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2013 at 22:29

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