Sharpie - Super Sharpening

Plug-In News and Updates
Subscribe to my RSS feed or bookmark my blog to stay informed.

Bundles Available!
Save money when buying plug-in bundles! Click any purchase link to learn more.

A plug-in for the camera RAW image processing program Bibble.
Author: Sean Puckett (

Bibble 5 note: This is a Bibble 4 plug-in. It does not work with Bibble 5.

What does Sharpie do?

SharpiePRO is a sharpen/blur plug-in used for capture sharpening (creating crisper images) and applying various area-sensitive contrast effects such as bloom, LCE and blurring.

Download Freeware Now

Sharpie Freeware 1.0 is available now.  Instead of three filters you get one, but that one filter (sharpen or blur from 1 to 1024 pixels in diameter) can work miracles, especially when you use it with Bibble's built-in sharpening function.  Give it a try!

Windows, Linux and Mac versions included in the same download. Read the Sharpie release notes, then access the download area.
You'll find installation instructions as INSTALL.txt in the zipfile.
Please provide feedback at the email address above.

Purchase Professional Version Now

Windows, Linux and Mac versions included in the same download. SharpiePRO is now available for Windows, Macintosh (Intel and PPC), and Linux.

SharpiePRO: $20 USD

Already purchased, but need an upgrade? Click Here.

If you purchase this plug-in, you do so knowing it is not compatible with Bibble 5. I do not provide installation support for Bibble 4 plug-ins, and in purchasing them you do so at your own risk. Further, I do not guarantee that any Bibble 4 plug-in will be available for Bibble 5.

Sample Output

These are full resolution (1:1) crops from a D200 image. Original on the left, SharpiePRO enhanced on the right. Settings used: Detail 2.0, Punch 1 / 2 / 0.02 / 0.5 (good starter settings for most images).

sharpie off 3 Info

sharpie on 3 Info

Here's the original image (reduced for the web).

sharpie sample 3 Info

Fingers Sample

The source image for this sample (used extensively in the demo images below) is a JPG, so there are a few jpeg artifacts in it. The "on" sample shows three Sharpie filters applied simultaneously (in SharpiePRO): Local Contrast at 8/0.2/0/0.5, Blur at 1.7/0.4/0/0 and Punch at 0.7/5/0.03/0.6. These filters enhance image drama (slightly), reduce artifacting and noise, and bring up pixel detail without blowing highlights or shadows.

Sharpie Off Info

Sharpie On Info

Blur / Bloom Sample

This example shows a portrait shot with just the Blur filter set to "Lighten" mode. Image on the left, no blur. Image on the right, Blur Lighten 8 / 0.2 / 0 / 0.25

Blurring Disabled Info

Blurring Enabled Info

User Interface (SharpiePRO only is described here)

SharpiePRO is now divided into two conceptual sections: Capture sharpening and effects filter work. Despite this, there are three plug-in panels, a "mini" panel to keep near the top of your workflow, a "master" panel for finer adjustments, and an "effects" panel for use when doing overall image enhancement.

Caputure sharpening: Sharpie-Mini Panel

sharpie3 mini Info

The mini panel contains the most frequently used options for capture sharpening. Once you've got your default settings perfected, you probably will only need to use this panel to fine-tune each image you work with.

Enable Checkbox

The enable checkbox controls whether Sharpie's Capture sharpening settings affect the image.

Reset Button

If you've created camera sharpening defaults, Reset loads them. Otherwise it resets all capture sharpening sliders to reasonable defaults and turns sharpening off.

? Button

This button shows a popup with the version number, author, and homepage of the plug-in.

Enhance Drop List

Choose Normal for the normal soft look, or Enhance for a punchier version of your image. Depending on your camera, either Enhance 1 or Enhance 2 will provide a sharper rendition -- experiment, then set a camera default.

Sharpness Slider

This is a copy of the "Power" slider from the Sharpness section of the Sharpie-master window. It controls the strength of the sharpening operation.

Detail Slider

This mirrors the "Power" slider from the Detail section of the Sharpie-Master window. It controls the strength of the detail enhancer filter.

Capture sharpening: Sharpie-Master Panel

sharpie3 master Info

The master panel duplicates the controls on the mini panel, and adds all the auxiliary controls that go along with the two filters associated with capture sharpening.

Capture sharpening is used to enhance the appearance of your images for print or for full size display. If you're using Bibble to save images reduced for the web, the Punch filter won't have any effect on the output -- it's only useful with full sized images.

Size Slider

Size sets the size of the filter. In Sharpie, size is not set in pixels, it is set in powers of 2. I'm sorry if you find this confusing, but it does offer very smooth changes in effect all the way across the slider. Here's how it works: A diameter of 3 is 23, or 8 pixels. A diameter of 9 is 512 pixels. Diameters less than 1 are very, very small filters, but they do have an effect.

The Punch diameter slider reaches from 0.0 to 4.0. In other words, from 1 pixel to 16 pixels. Generally, for "pixel punch", you want a diameter between 0.7 and 1.5.

Power Slider

Power is the amount of the sharpening effect applied. 1.0 is full power. Since pixel punch requires very high powers, this slider goes from 0.0 to 20.0.

Threshold Slider

Mathematically, threshold is subtracted from the effect buffer before it is mixed with the original image. Visually, threshhold causes the sharpening effect to not modify original image pixels that wouldn't be changed much anyway. It's a way of saying "nah, don't bother" if the sharpening filter results in a small change. This is actually useful, as it allows you to restrict the sharpening effect only to image locations that need it, and not to areas of fine detail that you don't want amplified.

Limit Slider

Limit reduces (mathematically, "compresses") large values in the effect buffer while leaving small values alone. The greater a limit assigned, the smaller the maximum sharpening effect, no matter what power is selected. This is very useful, because as power is increased without using Limit, the effects become more useful in moderate contrast areas but tend to overwhelm high contrast areas. Using limit, moderat contrast areas are affected similarly, but the high contrast areas are restrained from being overwhelmed.

Detail Filter

This filter is not a traditional unsharp mask, it is a new filter I've invented that combines blurring, sharpening and small diameter contrast enhancement into one slider -- Power. The Texture slider is used to adjust the effect if halos become too noticable, but is generally not needed for most types of imagery. The goal of the Detail filter is to recover detail lost in the original capture with focus problems, diffraction losses, or to try and get the last bit of sharpness out of your camera. It works pretty well.

Important note: The detail filter does not process images that are not full size. You cannot see the effect of the detail filter unless you are zoomed in to 100% or greater. The detail filter is, however, visible in the small zoom window no matter what the zoom level of the main image.

Power Slider

Power adjusts the strength of the filter, and ranges from -2.0 to 10.0. Negative values apply a slight blurring, or haze effect, which can be useful to cover up JPG noise. Positive values enhance detail and local contrast. As a guideline, start at 0.5 as a default for all of your images. If you want more detail recovery, experiment with higher values.

Texture Slider

Power values over 5 will probably add objectionable halos to areas of high contrast -- if this occurs, adjust the Texture slider to the left, which shifts the filter's response to higher frequencies. You can also shift the response to the right to get more local contrast effect, but this will probably produce ugly blotches unless power is fairly low at 1 or 2. A setting of 0 is generally adequate.

Camera Defaults

The camera defaults feature allows you to create capture sharpening defaults that are different for each camera you use. Capture sharpening, used here, refers to all of the settings on the Sharpie-Master panel.

To Create a Camera Default

  1. View a typical image that uses that camera.
  2. Use the controls on the Sharpie-Master panel to create a good capture sharpening.
  3. Click the Save button in the Camera Defaults group.
  4. The settings on the Sharpie-Master panel are now saved for that camera.

To Load a Camera Default

  1. Click the Reset button on either Sharpie-Mini or Sharpie-Master panels.
  2. All images currently selected have their capture sharpening values set to the appropriate defaults for the camera used for that image.
  3. Sharpie capture sharpening is disabled for Images used by cameras that have no defaults set

Sharpie-Effects Panel

sharpie3 effects Info

Effects are used to enhance the image using Sharpie's filtration algorithms beyond the realm of capture sharpening.

Blur Filter

This filter is designed solely to blur, and its radius is designed to help you smooth out sensor noise as well as unwanted surface detail. Depending on how much "power" you invoke, the blur can be nearly invisible in effect -- which is great for taking the edge off harsh details or noise. The blur can also approach a setting of 2.0, which nearly negates the luminance effect of the filter. This can cause interesting special effects, but when combined with the "threshhold" slider, can be quite useful.

Blur Mode Selection

Determines how the blur effect is applied. The choices are:

  • Normal - Blur affects all pixels
  • Smart - Blur affects pixels depending on available space in histogram
  • Lighten - Blur only lightens pixels that are darker
  • Darken - Blur only darkens pixels that are lighter
  • Add - Blur value is added to all pixels
  • Subtract - Blur value is subtracted from all pixels

A "Lighten" blur is good for adding a halo or "bloom" effect around lighter objects. "Darken" blurs are useful in adding definition to areas lacking detail. Experiment with this control and see how it affects your images.

Size Slider

Settings here range from 0.0 to 10.0, which correlates to pixel diameters of 1 to 210, or 1024 pixels. That's a lot of blurring. Use with care!

Power Slider

The blur power slider ranges from 0.0 to 10.0, where 1.0 is a fully neutral blur (everything smeared evenly). Blur power controls how much the blur is blended into the original image. Using low powers here is great for creating glowing or "vaseline on the lens" effects. Experiment with it.... on the other (Local Contrast) tab. I usually use this tab to smooth out sensor noise instead.

Threshold and Limit Sliders

Same effects -- The Threshold slider restricts changes from happening unless they're dramatic changes, and the Limit slider curtails dramatic changes to more reasonable levels.

Contrast - Local Contrast Enhancement Filter

This tab features a filter that is designed to affect localized contrast -- that is, to either alter the contrast of image areas that are adjacent. This filter can both sharpen and blur, and features filter sizes up to 1024 pixels in diameter. In sharpen mode, contrast is increased. In blur mode, contrast is decreased. Depending on the setting of the "power" slider, the changes can be very subtle or extreme.

Mode Selector

Determines how the LCE effect is applied. The choices are the same as those for the Blur filter, above.

Size Slider

Settings range from 0.0 to 10.0, which is a pixel diameter of 1 to 210, or 1024 pixels. That's really big. So big, in fact, that if your image isn't at least 1024 pixels tall and wide, this filter won't run at all.

Power Slider

Unique in Sharpie, this slider ranges from -2.0 to 5.0, which allows you to use the Local Contrast filter as either a blur (negative numbers) or sharpen (positive) filter. This is great, because you can choose whether to soften highlights/shadows, or enhance them, just by moving the power slider around.

Threshold and Limit Sliders

Same effects -- The Threshold slider restricts changes from happening unless they're dramatic changes, and the Limit slider curtails dramatic changes to more reasonable levels.

Bleach Slider

Bleach does just that -- it bleaches (fades) the original image before the LCE effect is mixed back in. The more bleaching you apply, the less of the original image will remain. At 1.0, only the LCE effect remains. Bleach is extremely useful when working with pseudo-HDR processes -- a slight (0.02) amount of bleach will draw up the blacks and draw down the whites so the LCE effect can be seen.


What is the Enhancer?

The enhancer re-interprets camera sensor data based on new algorithms for chromatic blending. Enhance 1 and Enhance 2 each are specific to a particular arrangement of the colours on a sensor's chromatic filter, so you'll need to to experiment to find which one works best with your camera.

If neither Enhance 1 nor Enhance 2 provide an obvious improvement, contact me and we may be able to work with your specific camera model to create an custom enhancement.

Caveat: In some circumstances, the enhancers may produce a subtle speckling effect in areas of extremely high contrast and high frequency detail. This may not actually be a problem for images printed at normal size. If you find it objectionable, use "Normal" enhancement.

What is Smart?

Smart sharpening as offered here alters how much sharpening is applied to each pixel depending on its placement in the histogram and how it relates to pixels around it. Smart sharpening is very good at reducing the halo effects of traditional unsharp masking.


  • Sharpie is copyright 2008 Sean M Puckett and may not be distributed except through this website.


Attached Pages Add
More Sharpie Samples, Sharpie Notes

All content on is the property and responsibility of the contributor. Don't steal. Use your head.