sharpening for the web | tips & tricks

As with everything in Photoshop, there are dozens of ways to do one simple task. Everyone has a way that works for them. I never feel like my way is particularly right, but I rarely do things the “right” way to begin with: I just do them in a way that works for me. I get lots of inquiries asking how I save my pictures for Facebook or my Blog so I thought I’d finally put the info all in one place. Now I can c&p a handy dandy link when the next person asks instead of re-typing it again and again. :)

I will start by saying that Facebook completely ruins the quality of your images. No amount of sharpening is going to get them to look super-crisp. And that’s fine. I know if people want to see my true images, they can come check them out on the Blog.

Ok here’s what I do:

I always re-size my images to 750px wide. Always. I never, ever, ever upload a full-sized image. Do you know how big those suckers are?!  Because the file sizes are so big and Facebook has ten kabillion bajillion users, all of which are sharing pictures left and right at every waking moment of the day, they are going to shrink your image and it’s not gonna always be pretty. So I save the Facebook gods the hassle and do it for them. ;)

No matter if my image is horizontal or vertical, I always re-size the width to 750 pixels.

Then I layer on my watermark. You might skip this step if you don’t have a watermark but I strongly recommend watermarking your stuff. Even if you are not a professional photog, consider it. It’s quite simple for people to right-click your image and save it onto their computer, cell phone, iPad, etc. You might think you have finagled it so right-click is off but there are always ways to get screenshots. And in case you didn’t know, Facebook makes it pretty simple for someone to print your image. So it’s best to take a little precaution and watermark your photos. You can create a simple text one in Photoshop and save it as a .png file. Open it up every time you want to share a photo on the Web!

If I am placing my watermark on a horizontally-orientated image, I re-size it to 450 pixels wide.

If I am placing my watermark on a vertically-orientated image, I re-size it to 600 pixels wide.

Yes it’s true. I have a method for everything I do. I love uniformity. I can’t just start watermarking images all willy nilly. =P  Lets not get crazy now…

Oh and another watermarking tip: try to place it where it would be hard for someone to clone it out. Placing it on a solid piece of background is fairly pointless because anyone with a paint program can paste right over it. I always try to place it centered over the middle of my subject. That being said, the placement has to look good. I understand why people may watermark right over a face but lets be honest: it looks ugly. I try to leave the facial area alone.

After the watermark is placed onto my image, I flatten the whole thing.

Now I run an Unsharp Mask to make everything look nice an crisp for the Web. Here are my settings.

AMOUNT: 60%
RADIUS: 0.6 pixels
THRESHOLD: 3 levels

And there you go! A pretty, sharpened image to share on the web!


Like I stated above, there are a bunch of other ways to do this. Some people choose to purchase and use an action. I personally like to do it the ‘long’ way because sometimes it needs tweaking. If you have a text-heavy image (say, a scrapbook layout), sometimes the above settings are just a bit too crisp. I would say I use these settings for 95% of my photos and layouts though.

Have a good day!

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