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Exploring strategies for using Curves

From: Photoshop Insider Training: Enhancing Photos

Video: Exploring strategies for using Curves

When it comes to using Curves in Photoshop there are two ways to use them and this applies to most image adjustments. I can come up here to the Image > Adjustment menu and access any of these and that would apply it to a flat image, the advantages here, it's fast and easy and my file size is a little bit smaller. But the most power and the ability to reedit the image come in Adjustment layers, and those are all served over here on the right. So to show you more about how to use Curves, we're going to use an Adjustment layer. I can pull this out, so I've a little bit larger dialog and the best way to start here again is just click Auto and see what you get, and if I like that result, I can either work from there, brighten the highlights, darken the shadows by pulling these down or at any point I can reset.

Exploring strategies for using Curves

When it comes to using Curves in Photoshop there are two ways to use them and this applies to most image adjustments. I can come up here to the Image > Adjustment menu and access any of these and that would apply it to a flat image, the advantages here, it's fast and easy and my file size is a little bit smaller. But the most power and the ability to reedit the image come in Adjustment layers, and those are all served over here on the right. So to show you more about how to use Curves, we're going to use an Adjustment layer. I can pull this out, so I've a little bit larger dialog and the best way to start here again is just click Auto and see what you get, and if I like that result, I can either work from there, brighten the highlights, darken the shadows by pulling these down or at any point I can reset.

I also have these great Presets, so maybe I want a Strong Contrast image, I can use the same approach. I basically like what I have here, but maybe I want the dark area a little darker, so I want to pull this down a bit. Now one of the common pitfalls in applying a Curve is adding too many points. And what can happen if you do this is as you start to pull these, your image begins to look a little weird and you could just reset here, but the other thing that makes it a lot easier is to just grab one of these points, click on it and you'll see that it's dark and then you can hit the Delete key to remove it.

Or you can grab it and just pull it off of the Curve and it disappears as soon as I snap that away. So, you don't have to undo all of your work, you can just pull off individual points in the curve. I think that probably the easiest and one of the most powerful ways is to use the On Image control for Curves. So if I want the sky darker, just click on that and pull it down. If I want the shadows darker, click on those, pull it down, and if I want this midtones brighter or darker, I can adjust those. And I think it's really key to save what you want, when you get a look that you want, take the time to go ahead and save your presets.

So that's really the key to reusing your assets here. So I can come in here and I can save that Curve Preset or maybe if someone else shared a curve preset with me, I could load that as well. Now the great thing about this being an Adjustment layer is maybe I come over and make this black and white, and I make some huge change to it. Well, later if I want to go back and change the curve, I just click on Curves and I have all of those controls that I put in here before, and maybe I decide I like that strong contrast preset a little bit better.

Now sort of a power user tip for Adjustment layers, as you can change the look even more by using Blend modes, and what Blend modes are is how the Adjustment layer behaves with the image. So over here, if I were to change this to say Darken or Multiply, I'll see that I get an entirely different image. So by using Adjustment layers and Curves together, you really get a unique result with your images. So that gives you an idea of just how powerful Curves are and how easy they can be to use.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Insider Training: Enhancing Photos
Photoshop Insider Training: Enhancing Photos

31 video lessons · 13128 viewers

Bryan O'Neil Hughes
Author

 
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  1. 7m 53s
    1. Welcome
      2m 29s
    2. Using the exercise files
      42s
    3. What you need to know about Adobe Camera Raw
      4m 42s
  2. 9m 30s
    1. Reinventing the Crop tool
      5m 44s
    2. Using the new Crop tool the old way
      3m 46s
  3. 6m 4s
    1. Then versus now: Understanding how the Auto button works
      2m 55s
    2. Exploring strategies for using Auto
      3m 9s
  4. 6m 37s
    1. Using Curves
      3m 31s
    2. Exploring strategies for using Curves
      3m 6s
  5. 14m 57s
    1. Looking at sharpening
      2m 6s
    2. Understanding Smart Sharpen
      4m 41s
    3. Understanding the role of Smart Objects in a sharpening workflow
      2m 20s
    4. Applying brush-based selective sharpening
      5m 50s
  6. 9m 6s
    1. Understanding the challenges of building blur
      2m 54s
    2. Using Iris Blur to create shallow depth of field
      6m 12s
  7. 8m 20s
    1. The evolving Dodge, Burn, and Sponge tools
      6m 24s
    2. Understanding the role of the graphics tablet
      1m 56s
  8. 12m 33s
    1. Understanding and using Content-Aware Fill
      3m 16s
    2. What to do when Content-Aware Fill doesn't work
      2m 38s
    3. Beyond fill: Content-Aware Patch
      1m 16s
    4. Content-Aware Scale: The feature nobody knows about
      3m 30s
    5. Content-Aware Move: Recomposing photos
      1m 53s
  9. 3m 17s
    1. Exploring what Liquify is really used for
      3m 17s
  10. 12m 1s
    1. Correcting automatically based on lens profiles
      4m 2s
    2. Getting the most out of Adaptive Wide Angle
      4m 47s
    3. Exploring lens distortion and video
      3m 12s
  11. 7m 22s
    1. Using presets new and old
      47s
    2. Surprising yourself with the Color Look Up Adjustment layer
      2m 15s
    3. Using gradient map presets for black-and-white conversions
      2m 31s
    4. Imagining a connected Photoshop
      1m 49s
  12. 15s
    1. Goodbye
      15s

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