Later versions of PS have some very clever and impressive sharpen options, other than just the unsharp mask. You can use a smart sharpen to remove gaussian blur, motion blur or lens blur. It's all good. And I often use it to sharpen eyes or other details. But for that final tighten everything up kind of sharpen, I still favor the high pass sharpen. And here's how I do it.
OK, here's the first pic. Just something I chose randomly from my folder. A pic of Turtle.
Before I do the sharpen, I'm going to run through my basic editing.
I start by using the spot healing tool to remove some of those nasty marks on his face.
Then I'll work on the eyes a bit. I'll make a tutorial for this at some point in the future.
Then I make a few curves adjustments (I'm sure I'll do a tutorial for this too. Curves are my number 1 favorite tool for photoshop. I use them all the time.)
Ok, now the High pass sharpen bit.
Select the whole canvas by pressing control+A or by clicking select>all.
Then click copy merged or shift+ctrl+C.
Then paste this merged layer at the very top of all the layers. ctrl+V will do the job.
Now go change the blend mode of this new layer to hard light. It will look really weird, don't worry, we're going to fix it on the next step.
Click filter > other > high pass.
A window pops up, with a slider.
Mess around with the slider until it's nice and sharp, but not overly sharp.
It's ok if some of the details become a little oversharp, like this.
We fix that by making a layer mask on this grey looking high pass sharpen layer. Then take a nice soft black brush and paint over any of the details which are over sharp.
And there you have it!
(before and after)
My friend Shaye had a good suggestion, that I take submissions from you lot for me to fix up and post on here. I thought it was a fab idea. So if any of you want me to mess around and try to fix up some of your photos, please e-mail them to me and I'll choose which ones will make the most interesting tutorials. Then I'll post a tutorial up here, made using your pic, and of course you'll get to keep the edited version. I'd love to see a variety of pic problems, like red eye, extra person in background, bad color cast, lots of shadow, overly pale skin, bad lighting, cracks or tears in (scanned) photo etc. I won't necessarily be able to fix up all submissions, but I'll try to work on as many as I can. I do hope some of you will send in your photos, it would be fun. Let your blogger friends know about it too! Spread the word. The more the merrier.
Also, what should I call this segment? Any good name suggestions? I just think it would be nice to have a name...