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Enhancing the contrast with Curves

From: Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques

Video: Enhancing the contrast with Curves

Now that we have run a series of calculations on this image from Chris Schmidt and you may recall, in the previous exercises we experimented with the Add blend mode. We created an Alpha Channel with the Subtract Blend mode and then we used the Difference Blend mode to compare the two Alpha Channels to each other. We are going to work from the best of the bunch which happens to be the Subtract mode variation, now what edges out the Add mode variation by a nose. It's just slightly better, but I want you to work with this channel Subtract 90, 1.4 because I want you and I to get the same results as we work along here.

Enhancing the contrast with Curves

Now that we have run a series of calculations on this image from Chris Schmidt and you may recall, in the previous exercises we experimented with the Add blend mode. We created an Alpha Channel with the Subtract Blend mode and then we used the Difference Blend mode to compare the two Alpha Channels to each other. We are going to work from the best of the bunch which happens to be the Subtract mode variation, now what edges out the Add mode variation by a nose. It's just slightly better, but I want you to work with this channel Subtract 90, 1.4 because I want you and I to get the same results as we work along here.

Now we are going to develop this channel into a full fledged mask by enhancing the contrast and doing the overlay painting and all that good stuff but we have got to up our game because we need more control this time around, because we are trying to match the focus of the original image. So instead of enhancing the contrast using the Levels command, we are going to use the Curves command, which gives us more control. Then we are in the exercise after this one, we are going to reestablish the details up here in the hair regions over the top of the image using the Apply image command. So we'll see a new use for that command. And then in the exercise after that I am going to show you an alternative to using the Paintbrush combined with the Overlay mode, instead we are going to use the Dodge and Burn tools which once again, give us more control.

All right, so if you are working along with me, you can open this image if you want to. It's called Vive la difference.tif. And it's found inside the 14_Calculations folder. Obviously, if you are still working along successfully inside the Super hero hair document, then stick with it. I love it when you make your own progress of course because you are learning that much more. All right, so let's grab that Subtract Channel in the Channels palette, let's make a duplicate of it. And the reason is that way we can always come back to subtract if we need to. Now we are not going to need to inside of this project, but I want you to get in the habit of making good choices. And really it is a good idea to duplicate a channel from one operation to the next and it doesn't really add that much to the file size. We went just now a moment ago before we created that new channel. The size of the file which we can see down here in the lower left corner of the image was 19.2MB after the slash so it shows us all the extra stuff inside of the image.

After we add that channel, after we duplicate it, we stepped up the size of the image to 21.7MB so that's 2.5MB bigger which is fairly small in the grand scheme of things. I mean we only added 10% to the file size which makes sense because this is our 9th channel. So we probably added a 9th of the file size again. All right, now let's go ahead and call this new channel, Curves modification or something along those lines. Then I want you to bring up the Curves command, you can do that by going up to the Image menu, choosing Adjustments and choosing Curves or you can just press Ctrl+M, Command+M on the Mac. But before I do that actually I am going to switch to the Full Screen mode so I have a little more room to work and I am going to tab away my palette, move this guy over here, so I can see him. And now press Ctrl+M or Command+M on the Mac to bring up the Curves dialog box.

Now normally you are going to be working in the Point Edit mode which means that this tool right here is selected. And what happens when you work in this mode is you can drag your sliders over like so, these sliders are new to Photoshop CS3 by the way. This command got a face lift inside of Photoshop CS3 and actually it makes a big difference in terms of how useful it is. We now have a histogram for example which is a great thing. You can drag this white slider over; you can add point and notice as you add points that Photoshop automatically determines the curvature for you. So that's one way to work. I am going to suggest with this image that we work with the Pencil tool so that we can gain a little, additional control. And when you are working with the Pencil tool, go ahead and select it here.

Notice when you are working with the Pencil tool, that you can draw any sort of curve you want to just by scribbling around inside of the dialog box. And when you do this -- by the way, you can't kind of go back and forth with erasing what you did before because it has to be continuous in a diagonal direction here. So you can do these loopty loops if you want to. Notice as you do you are saying that, you sometimes want the luminance levels to go lighter and sometimes darker, and then lighter and darker again. And if you really spike it, you are going to get some pretty trippy looking results in the preview area, notice that.

So you'll get all of these weird edges going on, almost as if you had applied the Difference Blend mode which is why these kinds of graphs are called arbitrary maps often times because you are applying arbitrary luminance modifications to your image. Now these sorts of radical arbitrary maps can sometimes be useful believe it or not when masking extremely complex images. And I am going to be showing you that in a later chapter when we take a look at masking the tough stuff, that is complex foreground images set against complex backgrounds.

But for now what I am going to have you do, let's go ahead and press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click on the Reset button, in order to reinstate our straight line there. And I want you to do the following. I want you to go ahead and draw along the bottom of the graph, draw a horizontal line along the bottom of the graph and keep your Pencil down toward the bottom here, so that you don't make some little bumps like so. And I want you to drag all the way over until reading those output and input values. I want you to drag over until the output value is zero. That's just telling you that you are staying straight along the bottom of the graph, and input which you can see directly below my pencil or cursor. I can't move it down to point it out because then you wouldn't see it anymore. Input should say 30.

All right, so I want you to drag to that location. Then see it down there, see it disappears as soon as I move towards it. Then I want you to move your cursor up toward the top of the screen like so, until the output value is 255, and the input value is 100, and you can see them down in the lower left corner of the screen still. Then I want you to Shift+Click like so. And because you Shift+Click you just drew a straight line between those two click points. Now you can either drag along the top of the graph like so, or you can move your cursor all the way to the top right corner, so that output and input say 255 and you can Shift+Click again in order to create a straight line there. So you want a straight line at the bottom, all the way to an input level of 30.

Then you want to move your cursor up, so you've got output 255 and input 100. You want to Shift+Click there and then you want to move your cursor over to here, 255, 255 and Shift+Click again. And you'll get this graph that you see before you right now. Now notice, and I want to zoom in by the way. I want to zoom in on my hairs, if I press the Spacebar in order to scroll or if I press Ctrl+Spacebar, I am of course going to activate the active button here on the Window's side of thing. This isn't a problem on the Mac, I hate this feature. I think I have griped about it before. It's a real old school DOS thing. And it just fatigues me that it still exist. I wish there was some way that Adobe could overwrite it. There possible is, they just haven't done it, but anyway.

What you have to do is you have to click on something else that's not a button. For example I am going to click over here in the Presets and just establish Custom that doesn't make any change but it makes sure that Custom is active there. Now I can press the Spacebar in order to get the Hand tool. And I want you to do that, if you are working along with me, go ahead and Spacebar+Drag the image over if you want, then Ctrl+Spacebar, click a couple of times that would be a Command+Spacebar click on the Mac, in order to zoom in on these fragile little hairs right here. We want to make sure that we keep those hairs, but right now we might have something of an abrupt transition between our lightest whites here and our darkest Blacks down here. So I would like to soften these corners a little bit and you can soften your corners using this guy right here the Smooth button.

Now you can't enter a smooth value. You can't determine the degree of smoothing that you apply, instead you get a little bit of smoothing every time you click the Smooth button. So I want you to click once and you'll see that you smooth things off a little bit up here at the top and the bottom, and then click Smooth a second time in order to Smooth them a little more. Now every time you click Smooth, you create a Smoother graph, if you want to sharpen it on up again you have to redraw it. So be careful with your Smooth button clicking, just twice in this case. We're now done, we have these nice, fragile hairs still in place here and we are mimicking the natural focus variation inside of the image. So we are doing a great job, is basically what I am saying.

Now go ahead and click the OK button in order to accept that modification. Now zoom out in order to check what you have right here. This is the before version of the image, a little low contrast version. Or at least the original contrast version thanks to the Subtract mode and this is the higher contrast version thanks to the Curves command. In the next exercise we are going to reinstate these hairs that we have lost up here at the top of the image using the Apply Image command.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques
Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques

190 video lessons · 26564 viewers

Deke McClelland

Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2h 13m
    1. The Odyssey Continues
      2m 39s
    2. Mapping one image onto another
      7m 12s
    3. Making a custom contrast mode
      7m 10s
    4. Luminance blending
      8m 40s
    5. Forcing the visibility of underlying layers
      4m 4s
    6. Adjusting the appearance of clipped layers
      4m 34s
    7. Selecting a Blend If channel
      6m 12s
    8. Enhancing highlights by hiding them
      5m 9s
    9. Smart Object first, layer mask second
      7m 22s
    10. The Fill Opacity Eight
      4m 30s
    11. Blending Smart Filters
      7m 24s
    12. Cleaning up edges
      7m 39s
    13. More fun with luminance blending
      6m 22s
    14. A first peek at the Calculations command
      12m 11s
    15. Masking a softly focused model
      11m 46s
    16. Moving layers and masks between images
      7m 35s
    17. Matching colors
      9m 13s
    18. Building transitional blended layers
      6m 33s
    19. Restoring normal colors
      6m 50s
  2. 2h 33m
    1. Layer masks, clipping masks, and knockouts
      1m 20s
    2. Rotating and stretching
      7m 54s
    3. A jet of motion blur
      9m 18s
    4. Keyboard tricks
      5m 4s
    5. Merging sky and landscape
      6m 3s
    6. Masking an adjustment layer
      6m 37s
    7. Creating two windows into an image
      7m 42s
    8. Whitening teeth and adding other highlights
      3m 46s
    9. Mapping a texture onto an image
      4m 1s
    10. Isolating a texture with a layer mask
      6m 44s
    11. Welcome to the glass composition
      3m 18s
    12. Balancing shadows and highlights
      5m 51s
    13. Masking the glass
      7m 24s
    14. Masking the text
      9m 23s
    15. Adding and blending the goldfish
      8m 45s
    16. Assembling the perfect group photo
      5m 12s
    17. Aligning photographs automatically
      5m 26s
    18. Masking in each person's best shot
      5m 18s
    19. Masking densely packed people
      6m 17s
    20. Crafting the perfect final poster
      5m 16s
    21. From the improbable to the impossible
      1m 56s
    22. The fantastical "world of clones" effect
      10m 0s
    23. Upsampling and blurring a background
      8m 39s
    24. Adding a knockout mask
      8m 3s
    25. Choking edges with Gaussian Blur and Levels
      3m 46s
  3. 2h 27m
    1. The corrective power of masking
      1m 6s
    2. The amazing luminance mask
      7m 22s
    3. Brightening and neutralizing the eyes
      8m 22s
    4. Adjusting a nondestructive composition
      5m 52s
    5. Creating a corrective mask
      6m 4s
    6. Averaging away irregular flesh tones
      3m 52s
    7. Modifying specific colors
      7m 46s
    8. Initiating the color mask
      6m 0s
    9. Refining the color mask
      6m 40s
    10. Adjusting the edges around fabric
      7m 56s
    11. Perfecting hair
      9m 35s
    12. Sharpening with a High Pass layer
      10m 12s
    13. The also-amazing density mask
      4m 48s
    14. Adjusting the knockout depth
      8m 48s
    15. Fashioning a depth map
      6m 12s
    16. Invoking a depth mask from Lens Blur
      6m 38s
    17. The perfect depth-of-field effect
      6m 25s
    18. Sharpening an archival photograph
      7m 7s
    19. Creating an edge mask
      8m 29s
    20. Making a High Pass sandwich
      7m 46s
    21. Applying the edge mask
      6m 2s
    22. Customizing your sharpening effect
      4m 6s
  4. 2h 3m
    1. Channel Mixer, I am your father!
      1m 39s
    2. Three ways to gray
      7m 49s
    3. Meet the Channel Mixer
      8m 26s
    4. Mixing a custom black-and-white image
      7m 10s
    5. Creating a professional-level sepia tone
      5m 36s
    6. Employing the Black & White command
      8m 1s
    7. Extreme channel mixing
      4m 50s
    8. The infrared photography effect
      6m 43s
    9. Taking shadows to the brink of black
      3m 56s
    10. Elevating highlights, leeching saturation
      5m 58s
    11. Deepening a black-and-white sky
      5m 49s
    12. Infusing luminance levels with color
      5m 44s
    13. Creating an opposing colorization scheme
      4m 58s
    14. Bolstering contrast with the Green channel
      5m 37s
    15. A tiny improvement to a terrific technique
      7m 39s
    16. The simple (but wrong) approach to red-eye correction
      6m 39s
    17. Channel-mixing red pupils
      9m 18s
    18. The expert approach to red-eye correction
      5m 20s
    19. Fixing problem coronas (pupil edges)
      8m 9s
    20. Making pupils match
      4m 8s
  5. 2h 33m
    1. Chops are dead; long live maskops
      1m 37s
    2. The Calculations command
      8m 16s
    3. Blue Screen blending
      7m 40s
    4. Refining the Blue Screen mask
      5m 53s
    5. Brushing away color fringing
      7m 24s
    6. Locking the transparency of a layer
      6m 22s
    7. Nondestructive layer painting
      7m 36s
    8. How the Add blend mode works
      8m 40s
    9. How the Subtract blend mode works
      6m 43s
    10. Focus, noise, and other masking challenges
      5m 33s
    11. The Add mode in action
      7m 51s
    12. The Subtract mode in action
      8m 25s
    13. Comparing two channels with Difference
      5m 24s
    14. Enhancing the contrast with Curves
      9m 11s
    15. Gathering details with Apply Image
      9m 43s
    16. Dodge highlights, burn shadows
      6m 6s
    17. Dodge and Burn in action
      8m 24s
    18. Painting in the scalp
      10m 1s
    19. Painting away the face and chin
      4m 53s
    20. Compositing complementary images
      4m 13s
    21. Multiply, Minimum, Blur, and Apply Image
      6m 40s
    22. Crafting the final composition
      7m 7s
  6. 1h 57m
    1. Mark of the Pen tool
      1m 35s
    2. The big paths project overview
      6m 51s
    3. How to make a path
      8m 25s
    4. Corner points and freeform polygons
      8m 6s
    5. Editing paths with the arrow tools
      5m 2s
    6. Adding and deleting endpoints
      5m 15s
    7. Adding and deleting interior points
      6m 6s
    8. Converting a path to a selection
      3m 35s
    9. Converting a path to a mask
      6m 38s
    10. Smooth points and control handles
      8m 57s
    11. Making cusp points
      6m 0s
    12. Combining paths in a vector mask
      7m 55s
    13. Turning a path into a shape layer
      8m 57s
    14. Combining paths to make a layer mask
      7m 52s
    15. Mixing layer and vector masks
      10m 14s
    16. Editing character outlines as paths
      8m 39s
    17. Using the Convert Point tool
      7m 8s
  7. 3h 17m
    1. Where there's a will, there's a way
      1m 18s
    2. Masking natural cast shadows
      4m 10s
    3. Applying the cast show
      4m 2s
    4. Creating a difference mask
      3m 7s
    5. Applying an arbitrary map
      3m 50s
    6. Making the flesh mask
      7m 17s
    7. Roughing in an object mask
      6m 49s
    8. Drawing missing details with the Lasso tool
      4m 7s
    9. Combining flesh and object masks
      3m 53s
    10. Amplifying the cast shadow
      4m 10s
    11. Selectively choking edges
      3m 58s
    12. Power duplication in Photoshop
      7m 9s
    13. Masking blond hair
      5m 48s
    14. Using Levels to mask iterations
      3m 14s
    15. Drawing an iteration boundary
      4m 55s
    16. Merging the best of two Levels iterations
      4m 4s
    17. More fun with Dodge and Burn
      6m 14s
    18. Fixing edges with the Pen and Stamp tools
      7m 29s
    19. Pulling from another file with Apply Image
      4m 52s
    20. Blending clipped layers independently
      5m 43s
    21. Building the flame mask
      9m 22s
    22. Amplifying the flame
      3m 53s
    23. Masking an image against a busy background
      5m 15s
    24. The Freeform and Magnetic Pen tools
      6m 52s
    25. Masking with arbitrary maps
      9m 32s
    26. A more deliberate approach to arb maps
      10m 51s
    27. Combining arb maps with paths
      9m 28s
    28. Masking with the help of the History brush
      11m 38s
    29. Creating a High Pass mask
      7m 25s
    30. Coloring in the outlines
      8m 31s
    31. Mastering Calculations
      7m 29s
    32. Subtracting and merging the beak
      11m 6s
  8. 1h 33m
    1. The meaning of bit depth (and why you care)
      2m 50s
    2. Scanning line art in 8-bit and 16-bit
      5m 9s
    3. Measuring the 16-bit difference
      8m 9s
    4. Correcting 8-bit images in the 16-bit space
      9m 31s
    5. Opening a raw image directly in 16-bit
      6m 13s
    6. Editing in Camera Raw, opening in 16-bit
      8m 22s
    7. 16-Bit/channel vs. 32-bit/channel (HDR)
      8m 18s
    8. Working with auto-bracketed photographs
      5m 6s
    9. Using the Merge to HDR command
      6m 0s
    10. Adjusting the HDR preview
      6m 0s
    11. Building a 32-bit sky mask
      6m 29s
    12. Properly exposing land and sky
      4m 25s
    13. Modifying a layer mask in 32-bit
      4m 56s
    14. Converting to and correcting in 16-bit Lab
      12m 7s
  9. 2h 8m
    1. Photoshop flirts with the third dimension
      1m 13s
    2. The displacement map
      8m 24s
    3. Making custom waves
      7m 14s
    4. Creating a Gaussian distribution
      4m 32s
    5. Using a two-channel displacement map
      6m 28s
    6. Creating a rustic edge effect
      8m 21s
    7. Distorting and shading with a DMap
      6m 34s
    8. Moonlight reflecting off water
      8m 48s
    9. Mapping the reflection onto the water
      7m 7s
    10. Dipping the moon into the water
      6m 18s
    11. Turning flesh into stone
      7m 55s
    12. Wrapping the stone around the face
      7m 27s
    13. Softening a displacement map
      8m 5s
    14. Making a repeating watermark pattern
      9m 22s
    15. 3D embossing with Lighting Effects
      10m 48s
    16. The amazing credit card type effect
      6m 56s
    17. Lightening the credit card letters
      6m 16s
    18. Wrapping the background around the text
      6m 27s
  10. 1m 43s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 43s

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