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The curves adjustment is one of the most powerful adjustments for applying tonal and color adjustments to your images. But curves also has a bit of a wild side, let's take a look at how we can use curves to apply a creative effect to your image. I'll start off by adding a Curves Adjustment layer. So at the bottom of the Layers panel I'll click on the add Adjustment Layer button. The half black, half white circle icon and then I'll choose curves from the pop up menu that appears. That will add a Curves Adjustment layer on the Layers panel and also provide me with the curves controls on the Properties panel. Now normally, a curve is literally a curve.
We can drag anchor points on the curve in order to change the shape of that curve, and that affects how the overall total and color values are shifted in the image. But for a wild, creative effect, we can be not so subtle. And that means not using anchor points to bend the curve, but rather, using the Pencil tool to draw our own curve. I'll go ahead and click the Pencil tool at the left side of the Properties panel. And then within the curve itself over the histogram essentially. I'll click and drag up and down drawing a zig zag pattern sort of a saw tooth pattern just going up down, up down, up down as I make my way up the curve from the black end all the way up to the white end.
Now generally speaking, this sort of very small saw tooth sort of pattern will create what I think of as a little bit of an oil slick effect. You can see that we have some posterization throughout the image. We've got some very harsh transitions and some very interesting color effect, but we can go much wilder than this. If we create a much larger pattern. If I drag very high up an then very far down, zig zagging up an down through the extremes of this curve, then I can really create what's essentially a psychedelic sort of neon effect. What's happening is we're drawing a curve where it goes very steeply up, then very steeply down, an steeply up an steeply down, an so on. The steep up portion creates very high contrast, an the steep downward portion, creates an area that is inverted in terms of color values. And that can create a very wild effect indeed.
You can continue experimenting around, drawing different shapes, different zig-zag sawtooth patterns as you try to find just the right effect for the image that you're working on. Depending on how large those sweeps are, in other words how high up or down you draw that curve. Or, how many little steps there are in your curve, it will have a big impact on the final result, in your photo. So, I can, this is looking pretty good, sort of a pastel, neon, sort of effect, in the image. So, I think I'll leave that one as my final effect.
But I encourage you to experiment around a little bit, with curves, in this way. There are seemingly infinite number of possibilities for this particular Creative Effect. And I think you'll find that you never get the same effect twice.
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