Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Here, we're going to take a look at how we can use Curves and masking together in order to come up with some spectacular results. Let's take a look at how we can do that with this photograph. Here, I'll go ahead and zoom in on this picture, and I really like this photograph. It's about the bride and her daughter. And somehow what I want to do is I want to bring that subject forward. So let's go ahead and click on our Curves icon. Next what I want to do is simply make a really basic Curves adjustment. To do that we'll click on the targeted adjustment tool and then hover over the skin in the image and click and drag up.
This will brighten this area of the photograph, yet it's also brightening everything else. I don't want that. The next thing I want to do is also add a little bit of contrast, so I'll darken this point by clicking and dragging this down. Well, now that I have this little bit of contrast and also brightening effect, I need to mask this into the area where I want it. So here, we'll click on the Mask icon and then click Invert. This allows us to conceal or to hide this adjustment. The next step is to select our Brush tool.
We want to paint with white in order to reveal that brightening and color saturation effect, and so we'll go ahead and go up to her Options bar and choose a nice big brush here, something probably around 70 or so. Make sure you have no brush hardness. Next, let's decrease our opacity here, something less than 100%, perhaps somewhere around 75 might work well. And you know, there's no real science to the opacity amount. It depends upon how often you want a kind of brush or paint over it in order to build up the effect.
Next, we'll hover over the image and go ahead and just start to paint. And here, what I want to do is start to bring some brightness to the subject, bring some brightness over here to these flowers. I'm just clicking and painting. I'll do this on the dresses as well a little bit, here, just bringing in a little bit more brightness into this area of the photograph. And I'm just panning across the image, and we want to pan around so--because I'm in Full Screen mode, I'll press the Spacebar key. That allows me to move around and paint in different areas. And then next, because I've made all these brushstrokes--you can see them here in my mask--I need to Feather these.
I want to make sure they don't look like streaks, so I'll go ahead and click and drag these up. Let me exaggerate this so you can see what I mean. When I really crank this up, notice my mask just looks like a big blob. Well, that's because it's softening all of those brushstrokes, so you want to bring that up so you have nice soft edges. This allows you to paint this adjustment in, in a way that has a more softness than is possible just with the brush. Well, this is already looking great. Let's take a look at our progress.
Here, we have it. There is our before and now our after. I'll go ahead and decrease that Feather amount just a little bit more and then go back to the Curves adjustment. Now that I have this masked in, I can go ahead and modify this even more. I can control the contrast and also the overall brightness. I may even want to go into some of the channels, say like the Blue/Yellow channel, and then use my targeted adjustment tool and click and drag down to add a little bit of yellow. Or perhaps we want to add some red.
Go to that Red channel and then click and drag up just a few points there of red perhaps. What I'm looking for is creating this really nice golden look. Let's zoom in and take a look at our progress. Here, we have our before--what we originally saw--and now our after. And that's what Curves does for your photographs. We're controlling how someone looks at this picture, and we're doing so by making this Curves adjustment--as we've done here--and then painting it into this specific area so that the viewer focuses in on what's most important in our photographs.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
180 Video lessons · 66481 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 90499 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 59130 Viewers
103 Video lessons · 27590 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.