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Like all tools in Photoshop, Curves does not exist on its own; rather, if we can take some of our other skills, and if we can combine those with Curves, we can come up with some really powerful and interesting results, and here we're going to do just that. We're going to take a look at how we can combine what we know about Selections and Masking and then combine that with Curves. In particular, while I really like this portrait, I feel like it's a strong image, I like that it's raining, one of the things that I notice, or one of the things that I would like to change, is the background. I notice that it's just a little bit too bright for me.
I would love to darken it up a bit. So how can we then select the background? Well, let's press the W key, or click on the Quick Select tool here in the Tools panel, and then go ahead and start to click and drag around the image. Now it didn't make a perfect selection, but it's a pretty good starting point. The next step is to select the background down over here, and then also over here. Now when I make those selections, I notice that there are a number of areas I need to clean up. Well, the great thing about this tool is that if you hold down the Option key for Mac users, the Alt key for PC users, you can then paint and subtract areas from your selection.
I am going to go ahead and do this, and that will be a little bit of a give-and-take. I will subtract this area, and then I'll add this back down here, and then I will go ahead and subtract a little bit of the jersey. All right, let's subtract this arm, again, holding on the Option key on the Mac, Alt key on a PC in order to remove that from the Selection. I also want to remove the black on the jersey there, and then I want to remove the ear from the selection, and a little bit of the helmet and again, just our regular selection workflow here, sweetening this up a little bit, so that selection is that much stronger.
Okay well, while that isn't perfect, it's a pretty good starting point, and just a little area I need to touch up there. Well, our next step is going to be the to create a Curves Adjustment layer, and we'll do so by simply clicking on the icon in the Adjustments panel. Now when we do that, we will notice that we now have a curves adjustment with a mask, and this mask tells us that black conceals a white reveals. In other words, because the background is white in this mask, whatever we do to make an adjustment here will only affect the background, and the nice thing about this is that it can give us real specific control.
Click and drag up, and we can brighten our background. Click and drag down, and we can darken it up a little bit. That's what I am talking about. Now in this case, I like this because it adds that much more kind of drama and separation in this photo. Let's take a look at our before and after. Here we go. That's before, and then click again, and that's after. A really simple approach to being able to combine what we know about Selections and Masking and then using that with Curves, as you can see, can sometimes lead us to some pretty interesting and strong results.
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