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Improving images with Color Curves adjustments

From: Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac Essential Training

Video: Improving images with Color Curves adjustments

Color Curves is another tool in Elements that you can use to improve coloring contrast, which offers a few more options than the Levels and Shadow Highlight features described in the other movies of this chapter. Let's take a look at how it works. I'm currently in the Bridge application and I'm viewing the exercise files folders. I'm going to go ahead and scroll down here in the Content panel in order to open up the Chapter 10 folder. I will double-click that and then I'm going to double-click the Color Curves folder and then double-click the Maine House-1 image. I want to open that up inside of the Elements' Editing workspace. All right now this is actually a very nice image, however it lacks some contrast.

Improving images with Color Curves adjustments

Color Curves is another tool in Elements that you can use to improve coloring contrast, which offers a few more options than the Levels and Shadow Highlight features described in the other movies of this chapter. Let's take a look at how it works. I'm currently in the Bridge application and I'm viewing the exercise files folders. I'm going to go ahead and scroll down here in the Content panel in order to open up the Chapter 10 folder. I will double-click that and then I'm going to double-click the Color Curves folder and then double-click the Maine House-1 image. I want to open that up inside of the Elements' Editing workspace. All right now this is actually a very nice image, however it lacks some contrast.

It's looking a little bit washed out. I would like to improve the image. I'm going to do so using a tool called Adjust Color Curves. Let's go on to the Enhance menu, and choose Adjust Color and then choose Adjust Color Curves. All right so here's our dialog box, it's a very large dialog box, that's because it has a before and an after preview inside of the box itself. So as we make our changes, we can refer to these two images before and after. However, note also that as we make our changes, we can move the dialog box out of the way and refer to what's happening to the image behind this as well, and actually it is going to be applied to the image behind the dialog box.

So you can look at the before here and after here as well. In case you need to see the image a little bit larger than what is in the dialog box because I think this is sometimes a little bit small. Notice down here this tip, select the style or curve prefer. If you would like to modify the settings adjust the sliders. Okay so the first thing I want to explain is this guy over here, this graph. What we have is this diagonal line here and notice the points along the line. This point over here in the bottom left corner is representing your darkest shadow areas. This point in the upper right corner is representing your lightest highlight areas.

There are 256 levels of gray throughout these images, so think of it as zero here and 255. This point right here is actually representing your midpoint, okay. This is your midtone point. Now we have got your quarter tones and your three quarter tones. So what we can do is move these points along the graph in order to change the tonality of our image. We can increase contrast, we can decrease contrast, increase midtones depending on which point we move and how far we move it, we can change the tonality of our image. Generally moving a point up is going to lighten that area of the photograph, moving it down is going to darken it. Moving it to the right is going to decrease contrast and moving to the left is going to increase contrast, so let's take a look at that now.

The first thing I suggest you do is try out these styles because when you click on these, it's going to apply a Curves adjustment that's already preset. So let's just scroll through these and see what makes the best adjustment to our image. Click on Backlight, that doesn't really help it much. It's making it look a little bit more washed out, Darken Highlights, not really helping too much, Default, which is making a little bit of an improvement but not much. Increase Contrast, which I think is helping but might be a bit severe. Increase Midtones, which is not exactly what we want to do. We already have a lot of good midtone information. Lighten Shadows, not what we want to do. And then there is Solarize. This is a very strange option here, look at the curve.

So as we're doing this, we're seeing these different points being moved along the curve. So I'm going to stick with increase contrast. Notice we have our traditional S-curve here that's what this is called; it's in the shape of a slight S. Anytime you see that, you're usually increasing contrast; I do like what's happening here. Let's take a look at the image in the background; that is helping the image. However I think it's just a little bit too much. So we can adjust these points along the curve by moving these sliders. Let's just start playing around with these here. If I move this slider to the right, notice it's moving this one here up and that's Lightening Highlight. If I move it to the left, it's darkening highlights.

I actually liked it where it was, so I'm going to leave it right there. We can also adjust the Midtone Brightness. If I move this to the right, it's moving the midtone point up and making it lighter. I like that. It's actually looking pretty good. If I drag it to the left, it's going to make the midtone areas darker and see that midtone point going down. So I think I liked it over just a little bit lightening up the midtones, just a little bit. Then we have Midtone Contrast, if I drag it to the left, it's going to increase contrast. If I drag it to the right, it's going to decrease contrast. I think I'm going to go this way.

And then we have Adjust Shadows. Again, moving this up, lightening up the shadow area, moving it down is going to darken up those shadow areas, and I don't think we need to that. I actually think the shadow areas are a little bit too dark. We have just made some minor adjustments to our curve here, it's not as severe as an S. All right, I think that's looking pretty good. Let's take a look in the background; I think we have made a nice adjustment to this photograph, increase the contrast looking good overall. Let's click OK to apply it and now here we have our improved photograph.

All right, so the thing to keep in mind here is that using the Adjust Color Curves, you can actually change the tonality of specific areas of an image by moving those points with the sliders. Okay it's really nice so you can do that. You can do it specifically in, the highlight areas, specifically in the shadow areas. That's the beauty of working with Adjust Color Curves.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac Essential Training
Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac Essential Training

84 video lessons · 5419 viewers

Ted LoCascio
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 2s
    2. Using the example files
      1m 20s
  2. 12m 1s
    1. Understanding Photoshop Elements
      2m 10s
    2. Using the Welcome screen
      2m 33s
    3. Importing photos from a digital camera
      7m 18s
  3. 1h 1m
    1. Viewing and selecting images
      2m 1s
    2. Creating and saving a custom workspace
      5m 29s
    3. Rotating images in Bridge
      3m 20s
    4. Renaming images in Bridge
      5m 34s
    5. Adding keywords to images
      7m 38s
    6. Applying ratings to images
      5m 17s
    7. Labeling images
      5m 17s
    8. Searching for images
      6m 38s
    9. Creating Collections
      2m 50s
    10. Sorting images with the Filter panel
      6m 36s
    11. Using image stacks
      7m 2s
    12. Hiding images
      4m 6s
  4. 31m 55s
    1. Opening images from Bridge
      2m 24s
    2. Working with palettes and the Palette Bin
      4m 53s
    3. Using the Project Bin
      6m 44s
    4. Zooming and scrolling
      8m 1s
    5. Fixing mistakes with Undo and Redo
      5m 3s
    6. Saving versions
      4m 50s
  5. 49m 38s
    1. Opening and viewing images in the Quick Fix mode
      6m 8s
    2. Understanding Auto Color and making tonal adjustments
      8m 50s
    3. Using the Lighting sliders
      5m 19s
    4. Using the Color sliders
      7m 1s
    5. Applying Auto Red Eye Fix
      3m 31s
    6. Applying Auto Sharpen
      4m 25s
    7. Using the Guided Edit mode
      6m 19s
    8. Processing multiple files
      8m 5s
  6. 10m 22s
    1. Understanding image resolution
      3m 23s
    2. Resizing images
      6m 59s
  7. 17m 8s
    1. Applying Auto Crop and Auto Straighten
      6m 22s
    2. Using the Straighten and Crop tools
      4m 10s
    3. Changing the canvas size
      6m 36s
  8. 30m 32s
    1. Why make selections?
      6m 3s
    2. Using the Quick Selection tool
      8m 37s
    3. Using Refine Edge
      7m 15s
    4. Saving and loading selections
      8m 37s
  9. 25m 58s
    1. Working with the Layers palette
      9m 45s
    2. Using adjustment layers and masks
      8m 37s
    3. Applying transparency and blend mode adjustments
      7m 36s
  10. 40m 56s
    1. Removing a color cast
      5m 53s
    2. Correcting skin tone
      3m 38s
    3. Enhancing color with Hue/Saturation adjustments
      6m 37s
    4. Balancing contrast and color with Levels adjustments
      7m 10s
    5. Correcting dark or light areas with Shadow/Highlight Adjustments
      5m 17s
    6. Improving images with Color Curves adjustments
      5m 55s
    7. Converting color images to black and white
      6m 26s
  11. 54m 14s
    1. Using the Red-Eye Removal tool
      8m 1s
    2. Using the healing tools
      7m 42s
    3. Whitening teeth and eyes
      6m 20s
    4. Cloning to remove contents
      8m 14s
    5. Adjusting perspective and correcting camera distortion
      6m 10s
    6. Using Photomerge Group Shot
      6m 17s
    7. Using Photomerge Faces
      6m 4s
    8. Using Photomerge Panorama
      5m 26s
  12. 16m 1s
    1. Creating a clipping mask
      7m 25s
    2. Creating collages with gradient blending
      8m 36s
  13. 22m 15s
    1. Reducing noise
      8m 7s
    2. Sharpening with Unsharp Mask
      7m 16s
    3. Sharpening with Adjust Sharpness
      6m 52s
  14. 17m 54s
    1. Understanding Camera Raw
      1m 46s
    2. Opening Camera Raw images from Bridge
      6m 37s
    3. Applying tonal and color adjustments in Camera Raw
      6m 23s
    4. Saving raw images
      3m 8s
  15. 40m 41s
    1. Painting with the Filter Gallery
      8m 7s
    2. Creating a pencil sketch
      7m 40s
    3. Customizing images
      7m 59s
    4. Adding artwork with the Content palette
      9m 39s
    5. Building and saving a multi-page photo creation
      7m 16s
  16. 37m 5s
    1. Creating a slideshow
      6m 58s
    2. Creating a photo book
      9m 1s
    3. Creating a photo collage
      6m 58s
    4. Creating a greeting card
      6m 31s
    5. Creating a web photo gallery
      7m 37s
  17. 31m 6s
    1. Choosing color settings
      7m 1s
    2. Printing to an inkjet printer
      8m 13s
    3. Using Picture Package
      4m 33s
    4. Saving for the web
      5m 55s
    5. Attaching images to emails
      3m 6s
    6. Burning to CDs and DVDs
      2m 18s
  18. 56s
    1. Goodbye
      56s

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