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Here, we're going to take a look at how we can combine curves and what we know about masking together in order to come up with some great results. We're going to be working on two different images. We'll start off with this one here. This photograph of this professional athlete was captured for a national publication, and they wanted more drama. They wanted deeper blacks. So in order to make those adjustments, let's go ahead and click on the Curves icon. This will then open up our Curves dialog, and we can use this tool which allows us to click on an area of the image and just drag to make an adjustment to that area.
I want to darken the background, so here I'll click and drag down. That looks really nice, more dramatic. I also want to work on the helmet up here, and I'll go ahead and click and drag that down a little bit as well. Well, now that I've done that, I like the drama. I like the density of those blacks, yet I'm noticing that the eyes are too dark. Well, we can mask this area away, and we can do so by simply clicking in the mask. When you click in the mask, you notice that it changes your Properties panel.
Here, we can go ahead and click on the Brush icon, and with the Brush icon we want to paint with black. To flip these two, press the X key. Next, choose an appropriate brush size. We'll go ahead and choose a smaller brush, and also choose a brush that doesn't have any hardness. Then you want to lower your opacity. Whenever you're working with light or color or tone and curves, you always want to have typically a little bit less opacity, something under 100. So we could go for, say, 70% or so.
Well, after having chosen that, I'll click off of this, and then I'll hover over the image. Well, here, my cursor is just too big, so I'll press the Left Bracket key to make this smaller, and then I'm going to go ahead and just start to paint over this area of the image. You can make the brush even smaller to get into really specific areas if you just want to limit this effect to this area. Because we're painting with black, we're concealing this effect, the darkening effect on the image. Click on the Eye icon and you can see the before and after, or you can click on the Eye icon inside of the Masks panel.
This will temporarily disable this and you can see how this mask, well, it's really helping out this part of the image. Let's say we want to take this even further, we want to brighten up the eyes. To do that, we'll create another Curves adjustment layer. And you know, this is really common when working on photographs, you'll have multiple Curves adjustments to work on different things. Here, we'll go ahead and click and drag up in order to brighten this up. Next, we need to invert our mask. We'll go ahead and navigate to the Masks panel and click on Invert.
This is now concealing all of the brightening effect. None of it is applied to the image. If we want to brighten up an area, we can choose our Brush tool again, and then this time we're painting with white, because this time we're revealing the effect. Again, we'll want a nice soft edge brush, pretty low opacity, perhaps even lower, and then go ahead and start painting. And all that this will do is bring in this brightening effect into this area of our image. Now whenever you're working with brush strokes, as we're doing here, it's almost always a good idea to also soften those brush strokes, and you can do so by working with Feather.
Well, after we've done those few brushstrokes here and a couple other places, we'll go ahead and increase the Feather amount. What that will do is just soften the way that we painted in that adjustment. If you click on the icon, you can then see that before and now after. Let me zoom in so you can see this a little bit more closely. Here, we have before and after, and it's these two adjustments together which have really changed the overall characteristics of the image. As we make these changes, we'll want to change our zoom rate, zoom in and zoom out, look at our before and after, then if ever you've modified something in a way that's too strong, you can either double-click on the icon and go back to the curve and change that, or you can always just lower the layer opacity.
And by using these two techniques together, you can come up with results which really look natural and nice. Here, with this image, I want to darken the background a bit more, so I'll double-click our first Curves adjustment and just click and drag this down so I have even more drama with this photograph. Well, let's evaluate the overall before and after, click and drag on the Eye icons to hide those. Here's our before, and now our after. Well, now that we've seen how we can do this with a black and white image, let's go ahead and explore how we could work with a color photograph and how we could brighten an area of an image and also change the color and how we can do this by combining curves and masks together.
And so let's go ahead and do that in the next movie.
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