Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Targeted Curves adjustments

From: Photoshop Curves Workshop

Video: Targeted Curves adjustments

The curves adjustment is by its nature something of a targeted adjustment. By that I mean that when you apply its curves adjustment you are able to focus your adjustment on a particular range of tonal values within the image. Of course in the context of the curves adjustment by itself the adjustment is only targeted based on tonal values not the location of pixels within the image. As you'll see in this lesson, by combing the targeted capabilities of curves and layers masks you can maximize your ability to focus adjustments exactly where you want them. In this case, for example, I'd like to darken down the sky in order to produce a little bit more drama in this image.

Targeted Curves adjustments

The curves adjustment is by its nature something of a targeted adjustment. By that I mean that when you apply its curves adjustment you are able to focus your adjustment on a particular range of tonal values within the image. Of course in the context of the curves adjustment by itself the adjustment is only targeted based on tonal values not the location of pixels within the image. As you'll see in this lesson, by combing the targeted capabilities of curves and layers masks you can maximize your ability to focus adjustments exactly where you want them. In this case, for example, I'd like to darken down the sky in order to produce a little bit more drama in this image.

However, if I were to darken the sky, I would also be darkening other areas of the image. I could be very careful with my curves adjustment, making sure that the only tonal values that are affected are those found in the sky. However, the tonal values found in the sky are also found in the waterfall. So I need to make sure that the adjustment I'll apply will only affect the sky. For that, I'll make use of a layer mask. The easiest way to work with a layer mask for any adjustment is to start off by creating a selection.

I'll go ahead and choose the quick selection tool, and then simply click and drag across the sky to ensure that the sky is completely selected. With the selection active I can then add a curves adjustment layer. Adjustment layers always come with a layer mask by default. That layer mask usually starts off completely white. That means that the adjustment is affecting the entire image. For layer masks, what you need to remember is that black blocks and white reveals. Beause I had a selection active when I created this curves adjustment, the layer mask automataically reflects the selection.

You can see that the sky is white and the rest of the image is black in the layer mask itself. Now, when I adjust my curves adjustment, I'll only be affecting the sky. So, for example, I want to add some drama. I'll darken up the sky significantly, and as you can see, only the sky is affected. None of the rest of the image is being affected by this particular curves' adjustment. I'll also want to make sure that the transition along the edge of my selection is a little bit smoothed out. I could've feathered the selection, but I prefer instead to feather after the fact. Once I've created my targeted adjustment.

To do so, I'll go to the masks panel, and then increase the feather value. In most cases, you only need to use a value of one of two pixels for feather, in order to smooth the transition, between areas that are not being effected and those that are being effected by an adjustment layer. And of course I can always go back to my adjustments panel, to fine tune the shape of my curve if needed. By using a layer mask, along with the curve's adjustment layer, you can truly maximize the flexibility of a curve's adjustment, by not only focusing your adjustments on particular tonal ranges within the image, but also focusing on specific areas of the image regardless of tonality.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Curves Workshop
Photoshop Curves Workshop

30 video lessons · 1019 viewers

Tim Grey
Author

 

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now "Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Photoshop Curves Workshop.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

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.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.