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Using Levels and Curves

From: Digital Matte Painting Essentials 4: Texturing

Video: Using Levels and Curves

Now that you know the anatomy of Levels Let's make the same move in levels, pull this white point slider to the Now, Let's do that same move in Levels.

Using Levels and Curves

Now that you know the anatomy of Levels and Curves, let's actually use them on this photo. Open up Curves and let's take a look at the histogram. This is the kind of histogram I like to see for a photo. Notice that the two ends aren't jammed up with tone. And they trail off in a curve, indicating that the darks and lights will both have detail in them. Let's do some color correction or what are called moves now. First, lets pull the white point into the left, what this has done is taken all of the tones before the point and made them white.

This is a very harsh correction and will always increase contrast and saturation of the original. Let's make the same move in levels, pull this white point slider to the left and this is the exact same color correction that we did in Curves. Now, let's pull the black point in, this takes all of the tones that were from here to the new location of the black point and turns them black. Again, this is a very harsh correction and it will darken and increase the contrast and saturation of the original. Let's do that same move in Levels.

We pull the black point slider to the right. And it's the exact same move we did in Curves. Both of these moves made the line of the curve steeper, and it's a rule of thumb in Curves that any time you make the line steeper, it increases contrast. Any time you make the line flatter it decreases contrast. So let's do that. If I pull down on the white point it darkens the image. But it also decreases contrast in saturation. The same is true with raising the black point. It lightens the image and decreases contrast and saturation.

In fact if I pull the white point down to meet the black point, I get the ultimate in reduced contrast and saturation a completely gray image. If I swap the positions of the white and black points, I get a negative image of the scene. Let's do that same move in Levels. To do that we can pull the black out point level to the right to lighten the image and the white out point level to the left to darken it. And, again, if we meet in the middle, the picture will be perfectly gray.

If we pull them across each other, we get a negative image of the scene. Pulling in on the end points of levels and curves results in a harsh correction, which may sometimes be what you want. But if you want to lighten or darken the image more gently, then the mid tone correction may be what you're looking for. If I open up Curves, set a point, and pull up on the curve. It lightens the image without introducing as much contrast and saturation. If I pull down on the curve it darkens it, but again without being as harsh on the image. Let's do that same move in Levels.

If I pull the mid tone slider to the left, it lightens the image. If I pull it to the right, it darkens the image. I sometimes have students who are comfortable using levels, since they are simpler and easier to understand, and they don't know why I suggest that Curves be the default color correction tool. The answer is that you can do many more moves in Curves that you can in Levels. One example is an S Curve, which is a very common color correction to both lighten and darken the image at the same time. But less aggressively than if you move the white and black points in.

Set a mid point and then a shadow and highlight point. Pull the highlight point up, and the shadow point down. Now you have an S curve that adds contrast and saturation, but doesn't clip the tones to the light or dark end of the curve. There's no way to do that in Levels, since all you have is a mid tone slider. And Curves allows you to do some very specific color corrections. If I wanted to just darken this back mountain, I would put the cursor that turns into an eyedropper on the back mountain, and you can see a ball shows up on the curve where that tone is located.

If I didn't want to change the value of the sky, I'd find the position on the curve of the sky tone, and lock it down with some additional points. And lock down the darks with some points also, and pull down on the curve where the mountain is. Now just the mountain is darkened without affecting the rest of the image. Let me show you a weird move just for fun. You'll probably never use this, but if you start arbitrarily pulling points up and down in Curves, you can get some very psychedelic effects, sort of like the end sequence of the movie 2001.

So far we have only been working in the main window in Curves, but the real power for color correction lies in color correcting the individual channels, which we'll look at in the next lesson.

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This video is part of

Image for Digital Matte Painting Essentials 4: Texturing
Digital Matte Painting Essentials 4: Texturing

39 video lessons · 3422 viewers

David Mattingly
Author

 
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  1. 1m 51s
    1. Introduction
      59s
    2. Using the exercise files
      52s
  2. 44m 5s
    1. Why did we wait so long to use photographic textures?
      1m 55s
    2. Prepping the form study for texturing
      5m 32s
    3. Transfer modes
      9m 4s
    4. Color basics
      4m 45s
    5. Creating a stone texture
      3m 26s
    6. Adding the dark side's base texture
      3m 57s
    7. Adding the light side's base texture
      3m 40s
    8. Rounded textures and the Warp tool
      6m 33s
    9. Websites for matte painting reference
      5m 13s
  3. 30m 12s
    1. Creating a photographic crenellation
      7m 30s
    2. Creating a line of crenellations
      3m 27s
    3. The Vanishing Point tool
      4m 54s
    4. Adding crenellations using the Vanishing Point tool
      3m 4s
    5. Trimming the crenellations
      7m 9s
    6. Adding back sides to the crenellations
      4m 8s
  4. 29m 36s
    1. Levels and Curves anatomy
      5m 26s
    2. Camera Raw
      3m 33s
    3. Using Levels and Curves
      4m 55s
    4. Color correcting individual RGB channels
      3m 19s
    5. Toning the base castle
      5m 35s
    6. Toning the crenellations
      6m 48s
  5. 32m 25s
    1. Adding photographic elements
      4m 19s
    2. Distorting the dome and rectangular faces
      5m 18s
    3. Relighting the dome
      5m 59s
    4. Color correcting the dome
      1m 52s
    5. Adding more photographic details
      5m 57s
    6. Relighting the new details
      3m 50s
    7. Color correcting the details
      5m 10s
  6. 51m 33s
    1. Extreme color correction
      3m 36s
    2. Adding a photographic sky
      6m 27s
    3. Adding background mountains
      5m 32s
    4. Integrating the details
      7m 30s
    5. Collapsing layers and more details
      5m 13s
    6. The final paint layer
      6m 28s
    7. Lights and glows
      7m 16s
    8. Smoke and flames
      9m 31s
  7. 33s
    1. Goodbye
      33s

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