Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced
Illustration by Richard Downs

Tone Curves (and why you don't need them)


Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Tone Curves (and why you don't need them)

In this movie I'll introduce you to the next panel over here inside Camera Raw and that's Tone Curve, and it allows you to apply an aftermarket curve to your image. So in other words, after you get done truly developing your image here inside the Basic panel, then you can go over to Tone Curve and add the equivalent of a curves adjustment layer, but I'm showing you this with the big caveat. The thing is, thanks to the way that the exposure controls work inside Camera Raw 7, you don't really need the tone curve function anymore, and I'll show you exactly what I mean.
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  1. 30m 4s
    1. Welcome to One-on-One
      2m 19s
    2. Loading the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      6m 5s
    3. Remapping your Macintosh OS shortcuts
      3m 4s
    4. Adjusting a few general preferences
      4m 3s
    5. Using the visual HUD color picker
      2m 2s
    6. The interface and performance settings
      5m 31s
    7. Adjusting the color settings in Photoshop
      7m 0s
  2. 47m 0s
    1. Smart Objects
      1m 36s
    2. Three ways to place a Smart Object
      3m 6s
    3. Copying and pasting from Adobe Illustrator
      4m 11s
    4. Transforming and warping a vector object
      4m 48s
    5. Blending a Smart Object into a photograph
      3m 10s
    6. Blurring with a nested Smart Filter
      4m 57s
    7. Editing a Smart Object in Illustrator
      3m 20s
    8. Creating "true clones"
      3m 50s
    9. Duplicating a group of clones
      2m 53s
    10. Breaking the Smart Object link
      2m 53s
    11. Styling and blending Smart Objects
      2m 44s
    12. Editing originals; updating clones
      3m 41s
    13. Removing people from a scene with Median
      5m 51s
  3. 29m 59s
    1. Luminance meets sharpening
      1m 2s
    2. Correcting for lens distortion
      4m 39s
    3. Introducing Shadows/Highlights
      3m 54s
    4. Mitigating halos with Radius values
      4m 19s
    5. Enhancing the effects of Midtone Contrast
      3m 18s
    6. Creating a "bounce" with Gaussian Blur
      3m 29s
    7. Sharpening on top of blur
      2m 47s
    8. Masking a group of Smart Filters
      2m 53s
    9. Reducing the density of a layer mask
      3m 38s
  4. 49m 10s
    1. Using Curves
      2m 40s
    2. Introducing the Curves adjustment
      7m 36s
    3. Adding and editing points on a curve
      6m 27s
    4. Winning Curves tips and tricks
      8m 12s
    5. Correcting a challenging image
      6m 33s
    6. Selecting and darkening highlights
      4m 39s
    7. Neutralizing colors and smoothing transitions
      6m 6s
    8. The new automatic Curves function
      6m 57s
  5. 1h 31m
    1. Camera Raw
      2m 11s
    2. Opening and editing multiple images
      8m 1s
    3. Correcting white balance
      4m 8s
    4. The revamped Exposure controls
      8m 8s
    5. Working with archival images
      7m 54s
    6. The Spot Removal and Graduated Filter tools
      6m 4s
    7. Painting edits with the Adjustment Brush
      7m 23s
    8. Tone Curves (and why you don't need them)
      5m 57s
    9. Straighten, crop, and geometric distortions
      5m 17s
    10. Applying manual lens corrections
      5m 14s
    11. Vignette, chromatic aberration, and fringe
      6m 49s
    12. Selective hue, saturation, and luminance
      6m 36s
    13. Working with JPEG and TIFF images
      6m 36s
    14. Camera Raw Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    15. Editing Camera Raw images from Bridge
      4m 24s
  6. 32m 30s
    1. Duotones
      1m 23s
    2. Creating a professional-quality sepia tone
      4m 18s
    3. Introducing the Gradient Map adjustment
      5m 42s
    4. Loading a library of custom gradients
      3m 48s
    5. Creating a custom quadtone
      5m 48s
    6. Colorizing with blend modes and Opacity
      4m 6s
    7. Creating a faux-color, high-key effect
      7m 25s
  7. 1h 6m
    1. Noise vs. Details
      1m 28s
    2. Introducing the Reduce Noise filter
      7m 29s
    3. Correcting a noisy photo
      5m 33s
    4. Smoothing over high-contrast noise
      5m 50s
    5. Protecting details with an edge mask
      4m 52s
    6. Adjusting overly saturated shadows
      3m 35s
    7. Correcting with High Pass and Lens Blur
      3m 45s
    8. Brushing away blur and sharpening
      6m 42s
    9. Creating texture by adding noise
      5m 28s
    10. The Camera Raw Detail panel
      7m 8s
    11. Correcting noise and detail in Camera Raw
      8m 10s
    12. Adding noise grain and vignetting effects
      6m 47s
  8. 44m 30s
    1. Blur Gallery
      1m 36s
    2. Creating depth-of-field effects in post
      5m 29s
    3. Modifying your Field Blur settings
      4m 57s
    4. Editing and exporting a Field Blur mask
      6m 15s
    5. Adding a synthetic light bokeh
      3m 52s
    6. Using the Selection Bleed option
      7m 29s
    7. Creating a radial blur with Iris Blur
      6m 59s
    8. Creating "fake miniatures" with Tilt-Shift
      4m 35s
    9. Combining multiple Blur Gallery effects
      3m 18s
  9. 1h 34m
    1. Blend Modes
      1m 16s
    2. Using the Dissolve mode
      9m 47s
    3. Multiply and the darken modes
      8m 30s
    4. Screen and the lighten modes
      8m 10s
    5. Cleaning up and integrating a bad photo
      6m 38s
    6. Blending inside blend modes
      6m 55s
    7. Overlay and the contrast modes
      6m 53s
    8. A few great uses for the contrast modes
      9m 7s
    9. Difference, Exclusion, Subtract, and Divide
      5m 5s
    10. Capturing the differences between images
      4m 18s
    11. Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity
      4m 45s
    12. Blend mode shortcuts
      6m 21s
    13. The Fill Opacity Eight
      8m 57s
    14. Using the luminance-exclusion slider bars
      8m 8s
  10. 44m 20s
    1. Color Range
      1m 14s
    2. Introducing the Color Range command
      7m 24s
    3. Selecting a complex image with Color Range
      5m 49s
    4. Refining a selection in the Quick Mask mode
      7m 4s
    5. Viewing a mask with or without its image
      4m 24s
    6. Painting directly inside an alpha channel
      5m 39s
    7. Correcting fringes around a masked layer
      8m 5s
    8. Turning a layer into a knockout
      4m 41s
  11. 59m 43s
    1. Refine Edges
      1m 28s
    2. Laying down a base layer mask
      6m 49s
    3. Introducing the Refine Edge/Mask command
      7m 57s
    4. Edge detection and Smart Radius
      4m 42s
    5. Using the Refine Radius tool
      7m 31s
    6. The transformative power of Refine Edge
      3m 37s
    7. Perfecting a mask with overlay painting
      10m 58s
    8. Combining Quick Selection with Refine Mask
      10m 37s
    9. Bolstering and integrating hair
      6m 4s
  12. 1h 18m
    1. The Pen tool
      1m 50s
    2. Pixel-based masking versus the Pen tool
      6m 45s
    3. Drawing a straight-sided path outline
      6m 59s
    4. Moving, deleting, and adding anchor points
      6m 10s
    5. Dragging control handles to modify curves
      5m 27s
    6. Converting a path outline to a vector mask
      5m 36s
    7. Customizing a geometric shape
      5m 53s
    8. How to position points and control handles
      7m 7s
    9. Drawing smooth points with the Pen tool
      8m 7s
    10. Duplicating and scaling a vector mask
      5m 21s
    11. Cusp points and the Rubber Band option
      6m 51s
    12. Setting anchor points in the pasteboard
      6m 8s
    13. Using the Convert Point tool
      6m 43s

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced
11h 8m Advanced Sep 12, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

The third part of the popular and comprehensive series Photoshop CS6 One-on-One follows industry pro Deke McClelland as he plunges into the inner workings of Adobe Photoshop. He shows how to adjust your color, interface, and performance settings to get the best out of your images and the most out of Photoshop, and explores the power of Smart Objects, Shadows/Highlights, and Curves for making subtle, nondestructive adjustments. The course dives into Camera Raw to experiment with the editing toolset there, and returns to Photoshop to discuss toning, blur, and blend modes. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details and reducing noise, as well as creating quick and accurate selections with Quick Mask, Color Range, and Refine Edge commands.

Topics include:
  • Adjusting the color settings in Photoshop
  • Placing and blending Smart Objects in a scene
  • Transforming and warping vector objects
  • Correcting for lens distortion
  • Mitigating halos and enhancing contrast with Shadows/Highlights
  • Adding and editing points on a curve
  • Editing multiple images in Camera Raw
  • Creating a pro-quality sepia tone or quadtone
  • Colorizing with blend modes and opacity
  • Reducing and smoothing over noise
  • Creating depth-of-field effects with blur
  • Selecting with Color Range and Quick Mask
  • Perfecting a mask with Refine Edge
  • Drawing paths with the Pen tool
  • Converting path outlines to vector masks
Photoshop Camera Raw
Deke McClelland

Tone Curves (and why you don't need them)

In this movie I'll introduce you to the next panel over here inside Camera Raw and that's Tone Curve, and it allows you to apply an aftermarket curve to your image. So in other words, after you get done truly developing your image here inside the Basic panel, then you can go over to Tone Curve and add the equivalent of a curves adjustment layer, but I'm showing you this with the big caveat. The thing is, thanks to the way that the exposure controls work inside Camera Raw 7, you don't really need the tone curve function anymore, and I'll show you exactly what I mean.

So we'll start things off where I left off this image in Camera Raw 6, and so, because I last developed the image in Camera Raw 6, we're seeing the old exposure controls along with this exclamation point (!) down here in the bottom right corner of the image preview. And even though I have thrown a graduated filter on top of things here, in order to increase the contrast of this upper background, I still felt like I had some brightening to do where this image is concerned. So I'll press the Z key to escape out, so I can gain access to my panels once again, and I'll switch over to Tone Curve.

Now you've got two different variations on the curve here that you can heap on top of each other if you want, so they operate independently. We've got Parametric which I'll show in a moment and then we have Point, which is that familiar version of the curve that we saw in the previous chapter, where you click to set a point then you drag it around and so forth. You can also see that bouncing ball inside of the graph by pressing and holding the Ctrl key or the Cmd key on the Mac that gets you this eyedropper cursor on the fly and then you just move the cursor around, you don't have to drag.

In order to see the bouncing ball, if you click, you'll go ahead and set a point inside of the graph. So that will be a Ctrl+Click on a PC or Cmd+Click on the Mac. I decided not to apply this kind of curve however, so I'll go ahead and reset that diagonal line by choosing Linear from the Curve pop-up menu and then I'll switch back to Parametric. The benefit of these options is that they allow you to modify specific areas of the curves independently. For example, I can crank up the shadows value in order to lift the first quarter of the curve, which is going to brighten the quarter-tones inside of my image.

Now I don't want to go that high, so I'll change the Shadows value to 85. I decided I wanted to lend some heft to some of the other darker shades, so I took the Darks value down to -10 and then I went up to the Highlights value and took it up to 50, let's say, and that raises the last quarter of the curve, which brightens the three-quarter tones. You can also define what you mean by Highlights and Shadows and Midtones by dragging these slider triangles. So for example, I can compress my Highlights by moving this right-hand triangle to 85 and then I can scoop my Midtones over and I took them up to 65, in the case of this particular correction, and then I went ahead and took my Shadows all the way up to 40, which means a larger portion of the image is being effected by the Shadows values and I ended up coming up with a pretty decent correction.

Thing is, I can do better with less work now in Camera Raw 7, and let me show you what I mean by that. I'll go ahead and switch back to the Basic panel and let's clear out everything we've done, because I've already saved it out as a snapshot. By going over here to the panel flyout menu and choosing Camera Raw Defaults, which will clear out all the settings as well as a graduated filter and the tone curve by the way, and we'll see the image as it was captured, which is extremely dark as you can see here. Even though this is four second exposure, I had the ISO setting set very low, so that I get as little noise as possible.

All right, so now that I'm seeing my Camera Raw 7 Exposure controls, I'll go ahead and crank this Exposure value up to 2.00, so I'll press Shift+Up Arrow four times in a row. Next I wanted to mitigate the enthusiasm of these lights in the background, so I'm going to go ahead and drag this Whites value all the way down to -100, so we can recover as much of the light as possible and you can see that makes a big difference, we now have more subtle specular highlights, and I'm also going to press the Alt key or the Opt key on the Mac and drag the black triangle down until I see just a little bit of clipping there inside the image preview, which happens at about -10.

All right, now I'd like to dim these lights a little further, so keep your eye on them as I reduce the Highlights value to its absolute minimum of -100 and then I'm going to crank the Shadows value to its absolute maximum of +100 and we end up coming up with this developed image. Now just one more step, I need to adjust the color Temperature because the scene is too warm, you can do that using the White Balance tool of course, and you can get to the White Balance tool one more way that I haven't shown you. You can press and hold the Shift key, when you're using any other tool, that'll give you White Balance tools and then I'll click on the brow of this boat right there and that'll set the Temperature to 2750, which is very low, but that will compensate and cool down the image as you see it.

And you know what, I think maybe the image could use a little more contrast, so I'll go ahead and crank this guy up to say +20 and that looks like a great development of the image to me. All right, now just for the sake of comparison I'll switch over to my Snapshots and I'll create a New Snapshot by clicking on the little page icon and I'll call this guy ACR7 development and then click OK and now we can compare the two versions, that is the one that takes advantage of the tone curve along with the graduated filter, that I was able to pull off with a fair amount of work inside of Camera Raw 6, and there it is.

Compare that to the better version of the image that I was able to achieve using just the Exposure controls along with White Balance. No tone curve needed here inside Camera Raw 7. So now you know two things, how to use the tone curve, and that you'll probably never need to.

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