Showcase and discover digital art at yex

Follow Design Stacks

Subscribe to our free newsletter to get all our latest tutorials and articles delivered directly to your inbox!

Photoshop Elements 2 Sharpen Tool

Photoshop Elements 2 Sharpen Tool

sharpen icon

Used for applying sharpening with a brush
Found at #22 in the Toolbar diagram at left


The blur and sharpen tools are referred to as the “focus” tools as they work to harden, or soften edges within an image.

The sharpen tool works by increasing contrast at distinct edges. Be aware that this will cause you to lose detail at the top and bottom of the brightness scale (very light, and very dark areas) when sharpening. The Luminosity setting in the blend mode menu can be useful to avoid color shifts or halos when sharpening.

To use the sharpen tool, select it in the toolbar, set desired values and settings in its options bar [see below], choose a brush from the options bar pop-up palette, and then drag in the image over the area you wish to sharpen. Be aware that sharpening occurs even when the cursor is not moving, as long as the mouse button is held down. The speed of the effect is determined by the setting in the Strength box at the top of the options palette.

A shortcut for changing brush sizes while using the sharpen tool is to press the left bracket [ to decrease brush size, and the right bracket ] to choose a larger brush.

When editing an image with any tool that uses brushes, you can right click on the image and the brushes pop-up palette will appear right next to your cursor.

Note that this tool cannot be used on 1 bit Bitmap mode, or Indexed color mode images.

The keyboard shortcut for the sharpen tool is the letter P.


The illustration below is the sharpen tool’s options bar. To choose a brush size and type, click on the brush thumbnail. A pop-up palette of available brushes will appear. For more information on brushes, please see the Brushes page.

The box titled Mode, and showing Normal is a drop down menu of the blend modes you can choose from. Beside this is the Strength value box. You can type in a number, or access the slider, shown, by clicking on the arrow on its right side. The speed of the sharpening effect is determined by this setting. Choose the Use All Layers check box if you want to use data from all layers. When unchecked, only the active layer’s edges trigger sharpening.

sharpen options

If you have doodled with a tool’s options and want to get back to the default settings, click that tool’s icon at the far left end of its options bar. Choose either Reset Tool to reset only the current tool, or Reset All Tools to restore default settings to every tool.

Please note that all descriptions, and illustrations featured refer to files which are in Photoshop’s .psd format, and which are in RGB color mode. Other file formats, and color modes may generate different options. Some Photoshop features are not available for images not in .psd format, or RGB color mode. To find what color mode your image is in, choose Image > Mode.