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Correcting tone with curves and masking

From: Photoshop for Photographers: Portrait Retouching

Video: Correcting tone with curves and masking

One of the most powerful and flexible adjustment layers that you can create is a Curves adjustment layer, and here I want to take a look at how we can create a couple of Curves adjustments in order to deal with some of the brightness and shadows issues in this photograph. Let's zoom in a little bit in order to take a look. One of the things that I notice is that there is a bright spot on the forehead; we've already talked about how we can deal with that. Yet there is also some shadows around the eyes. In order to fix that I'll go ahead and click on the Curves Adjustment Layer icon. Here I'm going to click and drag up or you can use the Targeted Adjustment tool.

Correcting tone with curves and masking

One of the most powerful and flexible adjustment layers that you can create is a Curves adjustment layer, and here I want to take a look at how we can create a couple of Curves adjustments in order to deal with some of the brightness and shadows issues in this photograph. Let's zoom in a little bit in order to take a look. One of the things that I notice is that there is a bright spot on the forehead; we've already talked about how we can deal with that. Yet there is also some shadows around the eyes. In order to fix that I'll go ahead and click on the Curves Adjustment Layer icon. Here I'm going to click and drag up or you can use the Targeted Adjustment tool.

If you click on that in order to target that shadow area, and then drag up. While I drag up I can see that the shadows look better, but the rest of the image doesn't, so we need to modify the mask. This will be pretty easy. All that we need to do is to click on the Mask icon and then press Invert. You can also invert your mask by pressing Command+I on a Mac or Ctrl+I on Windows; that will change the mask from black to white, and sometimes that's a handy shortcut to have. All right, well next we'll go ahead and we'll press the B key to select our Brush tool.

We want to choose white, so we can paint with white. We want to lower the opacity, so here we'll decrease our opacity by clicking and dragging this to the left. You know, there are so many different ways to change your brush size and the characteristics of your brush. One technique that I use every once in a while is to Ctrl or right-click on the image with the brush. Here we can then change the size and hover over this. And I like this because it allows me to see my brush size relative to where I am. Rather than having to access this menu up here, it's in context; it is right next to that area that I'm working on.

In order to exit out of this dialog, well, you can just click off of it somewhere in the interface. Next, we'll go ahead and start painting. And here because I have a pretty big brush. I have my opacity really low, and I'm going to go ahead and paint over the shadows in a little bit more of a broad way. I'm looking to do this slowly, when you're working with lights you want it to be feathered and tapered and I want to make these adjustments in nice kind of general ways. So I'm just going to try to diminish a couple of these general shadows that I'm seeing here, and go ahead and paint over those areas.

Next, I'll press the left bracket key to make my brush smaller. Now with the smaller brush, I'm going to get into some of the smaller little wrinkle areas. If you want to change your opacity on the fly, just press a number on the keyboard. You can press 2 to go to 20% or 3 to go to 30, and we've talked about that before, but I just like to call that out here in a situation like this. All right! Well, again we're just going to try to work to bring in some light into this area. We can click on the Eye icon. Here is our before; now here's our after.

After we've done that what we also want to do is feather out the edges of our brush strokes. Let me show you what that means and how that works. If you press Option or Alt and if you click on your mask you can see all of your different brush strokes. Here they are. Next, if you increase the feather, you can see how it just kind of smoothes those out. If I increase this a lot it's just going to turn them into almost big blobs. So as you increase this, you're just looking to kind of soften those edges, so they're not quite so dramatic or so etched into the photograph.

Well here, let's Option+Click or Alt+ Click the Mask icon again, this will just take it back to their regular view. And you can use that technique to evaluate or review your mask as far as the Option+Clicking or Alt+Clicking as we did there. All right, well now, let's click on our before and after and see how we're doing? Great! That's looking a lot better. Last, but not least, with this layer, we want to click on the Curves adjustment here and then go to our different channels in order to modify the color. And in this case, I'm just going to add a little tiny bit of red and then perhaps just a touch of a yellow as well.

I want to just modify this so that the tone there fits with the rest of the image. Looks like I brought in too much red, and when you're making really small adjustments, it's hard to work with this, so a better way is to set a point and then to use your arrow keys. I'll press the up arrow key just to add maybe a few points there of red, and then go to the Blue-Yellow channel and then also modify that color there in that part of the photograph. All right, well, now that we've done that let's also deal with our hotspot; we already know how to do this, but I just want to highlight that again.

We'll click the Curves adjustment layer icon. Grab our Targeted Adjustment tool. We can click and drag down on that area of the picture. Sometimes it's helpful too to drag your white point down a little bit as well. Next, let's invert our mask by way of the shortcut. Do you remember the shortcut? You press Command+I on a Mac, Ctrl+I on Windows, then press the B key to select your Brush tool. Here we'll paint with white. We want a bigger brush, so let's right- click or Ctrl+Click to open up our Brush dialog and let's increase our brush size, and then you can just click out of that dialog there to close it, and then we'll go ahead and start to paint away this little highlight here.

You could also paint over other highlights that you think might be kind of distracting with your photograph. Just make a few little brush strokes as we do that, and here you're getting pretty good at working with all of these tools. If you're following along, and if you're tracking with this, this is some advanced stuff and it can really help you out as you seek to improve your portraits. Next, we need to soften the edges of our brush strokes. So click in the mask and then just increase your feather a little bit until you think it looks nice. Last, but not least, you always want to look at your before and after.

Here it is. There is our before; now here is our after.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop for Photographers: Portrait Retouching
Photoshop for Photographers: Portrait Retouching

85 video lessons · 23904 viewers

Chris Orwig
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 58s
    1. Welcome
      1m 4s
    2. Using the exercise files
      54s
  2. 6m 49s
    1. Initial retouching considerations
      3m 51s
    2. Using a Wacom tablet
      1m 8s
    3. Exploring resources and finding inspiration
      1m 50s
  3. 37m 21s
    1. Where to begin?
      1m 19s
    2. Reviewing the basic cleanup tools
      3m 59s
    3. Removing small distractions
      2m 41s
    4. Using selections and cloning to remove distractions
      4m 26s
    5. Simplifying the background with the Clone tool
      5m 12s
    6. Removing a garment strap
      5m 17s
    7. Removing a distracting logo
      3m 43s
    8. Removing lint from a T-shirt
      3m 40s
    9. Cleaning up a backdrop with Content-Aware Fill
      2m 58s
    10. Cleaning up a backdrop with the Patch tool
      4m 6s
  4. 22m 31s
    1. Extending a real-world scene, part 1
      4m 6s
    2. Extending a real-world scene, part 2
      4m 20s
    3. Removing distractions for a creative effect
      4m 31s
    4. Using selections and Free Transform to rebuild image elements
      3m 44s
    5. Moving a person with Content-Aware Move
      5m 50s
  5. 28m 48s
    1. Removing small details from the face
      4m 50s
    2. Retouching skin
      4m 35s
    3. Reducing hotspots, part 1
      4m 32s
    4. Reducing hotspots, part 2
      4m 36s
    5. Reducing brightness with selections and curves
      3m 26s
    6. Using Hue/Saturation to minimize variations in skin color
      3m 45s
    7. Removing tan lines
      1m 53s
    8. Leaving imperfections in portraits
      1m 11s
  6. 37m 15s
    1. Correcting tone with curves and masking
      5m 39s
    2. Fixing exposure and color with curves
      4m 14s
    3. Correcting tone with blending modes and masking
      5m 22s
    4. Using Shadows/Highlights to improve exposure
      5m 28s
    5. Using Soft Light layer blending to burn and dodge
      4m 37s
    6. Exploring the burning-and-dodging workflow
      6m 35s
    7. Using multiple techniques to improve shadows and highlights
      5m 20s
  7. 22m 42s
    1. Reducing wrinkles with the Healing Brush
      7m 21s
    2. Working on wrinkles and details
      6m 51s
    3. Fine-tuning and making final adjustments on wrinkles
      3m 44s
    4. Quick wrinkle reduction with the Patch tool
      4m 46s
  8. 43m 27s
    1. Enhancing eyes with adjustment layers and blending
      4m 7s
    2. Adding sparkle to the eyes
      4m 38s
    3. Increasing color with Colorize and blending modes
      5m 37s
    4. Rebuilding the edge of the eye
      6m 34s
    5. Whitening eyes, part 1
      3m 54s
    6. Whitening eyes, part 2
      5m 42s
    7. Removing eye veins and sharpening eyes behind glasses
      7m 8s
    8. Correcting color and tone behind glasses
      5m 47s
  9. 11m 26s
    1. Trimming eyebrows
      5m 25s
    2. Darkening eyebrows
      2m 48s
    3. Adding mascara to darken eyelashes
      3m 13s
  10. 16m 47s
    1. Enhancing lip color and tone with curves and masking
      4m 23s
    2. Using Color Balance and blending modes to improve the look of lips
      7m 41s
    3. Improving the look of lips with the Burn and Dodge tools
      4m 43s
  11. 13m 49s
    1. Teeth whitening made easy
      2m 33s
    2. Exploring advanced teeth whitening
      5m 0s
    3. Automating teeth whitening with actions
      5m 9s
    4. A note on retouching facial features
      1m 7s
  12. 35m 22s
    1. Covering and correcting hair discoloration
      5m 48s
    2. Fixing the color of hair roots
      3m 3s
    3. Making creative color adjustments to hair
      2m 44s
    4. Patching a gap in hair
      4m 27s
    5. Removing flyaway hairs
      6m 18s
    6. Fixing flyaway hairs with a complicated background
      5m 57s
    7. Adding accents and creative color to a fashion photograph
      7m 5s
  13. 27m 22s
    1. Brightening shadow areas on the face
      4m 22s
    2. Adding color to the cheeks and eyelids
      4m 30s
    3. Modifying eye makeup color
      3m 52s
    4. Increasing color saturation and variety
      4m 17s
    5. Enhancing color with the Lab Color space
      5m 44s
    6. Using Selective Color to create vibrant color
      3m 29s
    7. Additional makeup resources
      1m 8s
  14. 23m 15s
    1. High-pass skin softening
      6m 48s
    2. Creating a mask for the skin
      4m 23s
    3. Softening and adding even texture to the skin
      5m 36s
    4. Adding a soft glow to the skin and details
      6m 28s
  15. 34m 36s
    1. Adding dimension using curves and masking
      3m 50s
    2. Reshaping a jawline with Liquify
      4m 30s
    3. Reshaping a shirt with Liquify
      3m 13s
    4. Reshaping a shoulder with Liquify
      3m 22s
    5. Reshaping the body with Liquify
      2m 35s
    6. Using the Warp tool to reshape a jawline
      3m 33s
    7. Modifying the body with the Warp tool
      3m 35s
    8. Changing shape with selections and masking
      8m 32s
    9. Tips for thoughtful portrait retouching
      1m 26s
  16. 36s
    1. Goodbye
      36s

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