If you want to sharpen certain areas of an image while leaving the rest alone, try the new Selective Sharpening feature in Photoshop CS5. Instead of having to duplicate layers, then erase portions you don’t want to sharpen, just use the Sharpening tool (triangle). It’s better at preserving detail than the Smart Sharpen filter or other sharpening tools, and can even sharpen areas that are not in focus! It’s also brush-based, so you can use pressure sensitivity with a pen and tablet. For safety, duplicate the layer and use it there.
Jay Nelson is the editorial director of PlanetQuark.com, and the editor and publisher of Design Tools Monthly. He’s also the author of the QuarkXPress 8 and QuarkXPress 7 training titles at Lynda.com, as well as the training videos Quark includes in the box with QuarkXPress 7 . In addition, Jay writes regularly for Macworld and Photoshop User magazines and speaks at industry events.