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Using selections, masks, and curves to change tonality

From: Photoshop CS6 for Photographers

Video: Using selections, masks, and curves to change tonality

So far, we've taken a look at how we can burn and dodge using the Burn and Dodge tools or how we can create a new layer and change the Blending mode to Soft Light and paint with black or white or a dark or a bright hue and how we can change the way our image appears. Well here what I want to do is take a look at how we can work with selections, curves, and masking in order to darken or brighten our images. Well, this particular photograph, I really like the moment. I like the moment of the mother and the daughter, the mother and the bride.

Using selections, masks, and curves to change tonality

So far, we've taken a look at how we can burn and dodge using the Burn and Dodge tools or how we can create a new layer and change the Blending mode to Soft Light and paint with black or white or a dark or a bright hue and how we can change the way our image appears. Well here what I want to do is take a look at how we can work with selections, curves, and masking in order to darken or brighten our images. Well, this particular photograph, I really like the moment. I like the moment of the mother and the daughter, the mother and the bride.

Yet, one of the things that I notice is that this image could use a little bit of work in regards to its contrast and brightness. In particular, there are some highlights on the bride's face that I want to bring down. In order to select those, I am going to navigate to Select and use Color Range. Now typically, you think of Color Range for selecting colors, yet it's great at also selecting things like highlights. Here I will choose Highlights and you can see it's giving me a pretty good selection of these different highlights here.

Let's go ahead and click OK in order to apply that selection. Well now that we've created that selection, you can see that indeed primarily, we have these different highlights throughout the image. Now if you want to refine the selection, what you can do is select one of your other Select tools. That was a bit of a tongue twister there. Well, once you have another Select tool, you can go to Refine Edge. Now with Refine Edge, it shows me the strange yet helpful view, here it's all of these highlight areas.

Well if I want to soften out the edges a little bit so it's not quite so harsh, I can increase my Feather amount, and typically that's a good idea. So to reiterate, we first go to Select > Color Range, target the highlights, then we choose the Select tool and we refine the edge. Next, we'll just click OK. So really, all that we've done so far is sampled or selected these highlights. Next, I want to adjust those. To do that, we're going to go ahead and click on our Curves icon.

This will open up a curves adjustment with that mask on it. Well now here what I can do is click- and-drag down my top bright point here. I can also decrease the midtones a little bit. Let me exaggerate this. It will look bad but it will help you understand how this works. If I go too far, you can really see how it's creating this selection or adjustment here on this area. To soften that even more, we want to go to the Mask, and we want to increase the Feather amount. As we do that, you can see that the transition from bright to dark, well it's not as dramatic.

Now, I obviously exaggerated this, so I need to go back to my curve, and here what I want to do is bring that to a more appropriate place. The beauty of working with curves when it comes to burning and dodging is that I can also add color into this area. We could go into the Red Channel, and with the Target Adjustment tool, hover over that, and then click-and-drag up to add just a little bit of red into that area. We could also go to the Blue/Yellow channel and then click-and-drag down with that tool selected as well, and by doing this we, can color correct the area that we're burning and dodging.

It can be amazing, it can totally change the way we burn and dodge. Well, let's look at the progress. Here we have that before, too bright, now we have that after; that looks nice. If ever we've brought in a darkening effect to areas that we don't want to, well just Option or Alt+Click on your mask, and this will show you this perspective of all of the different areas you're affecting. If, for example, you don't want to affect the hair, well just grab your brush, and then go ahead and paint with black, and here I will decrease my Brush Opacity, and also decrease my Brush Size, that brush was way too big, and then I can paint over this to conceal the adjustment from that area, so it won't be as strong.

Option or Alt+Click on your mask and you will see what I mean. You can kind of paint this away from different areas if you want those other areas to be bright. With this image I think it's nice to bring down a lot of those highlights; so again, our before and after well it's doing a pretty good job. If we want to add more to this, double- click the Adjustment layer icon, and then you can go ahead and bring your curves adjustment down even further. Well now that we've removed a lot of the highlights, the other thing I want to do is bring some brightness into the photograph. To do that, I'll click on the Curves Adjustment layer icon and I am just going to click in the middle and drag up.

I'm doing that because I want to brighten the mom's face. Currently, this mask, it's revealing all of our brightening effect. So what we need to do is to go to the mask. Here I will click Invert. By inverting that mask, we're concealing or hiding all of the brightening. Next, we'll paint this in. We'll paint in our dodging effect. So in a sense what we're doing is we're dodging and burning like we could do traditionally in the darkroom, but now we even have more control.

So here I'm just brightening this up by painting back-and-forth over this area, and I'll go ahead and brighten up a little bit of the bride's face as well with a touch there, and a little bit on this side just to bring in some focus to that area. In this adjustment layer, really it's just about that brightening which is bringing some focus into this part of the frame. Let me zoom out a little bit so you can see this picture from a zoomed out perspective. Here you can see that before and now our after. Well, we're definitely improving the image.

And as we make these changes, we may also want to make other adjustments as well like another Curves Adjustment that allows us to reduce the Contrast, click-and-drag down your top highlight point, and also your bottom point. By having a curved line which is less steep, we now have a little bit less contrast. So this little adjustment basically just kind of softens the overall image a bit. Now, as you make all of these adjustments, you almost always want to go back to your other adjustments, and just modify those so that you can dial these all in so that they work well together.

So you have that brightening effect or darkening or whatever it is. So let's zoom back in on this image, and let's evaluate the overall result that we have here. If we click-and-drag on the eye icon, you can see there is our before, and now here is our after. And I am aware that what we've done here is pretty advanced. Yet, what I'm hoping is, is that you've watched those other movies on masking and working with curves, and that now you're really starting to see how you can put together all of these different pieces in order to use these tools to be able to burn and dodge in a different way.

Now what technique is best? Is it best to use the Burn and Dodge tools or the Soft Light blending technique or Curves? Well there never is one technique which is best, rather, you want to know all of these different techniques because with certain images, certain techniques work perfectly, with other images, you kind of need to go searching for just the right tool or technique in order to correct it. Yet, perhaps most importantly, knowing how to burn and dodge effectively really is an art and a craft. It's about learning how to think about light and shadow in order to work with light and shadow in order to create more compelling and engaging photographs.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS6 for Photographers
Photoshop CS6 for Photographers

173 video lessons · 26990 viewers

Chris Orwig
Author

 
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  1. 1m 43s
    1. Welcome
      58s
    2. Using the exercise files
      45s
  2. 11m 49s
    1. Ideas for how to learn Photoshop more effectively
      4m 25s
    2. Isolating what you've learned and taking quality notes
      3m 53s
    3. Getting creative and being ready to be surprised
      3m 31s
  3. 38m 57s
    1. Customizing the Bridge workspace
      4m 46s
    2. Reviewing and evaluating your photos
      4m 22s
    3. Rating, ranking, and filtering photographs
      5m 42s
    4. Organizing photos with stacks
      3m 55s
    5. Grouping pictures together with collections
      3m 56s
    6. Adding metadata and keywords
      4m 47s
    7. Renaming images
      1m 45s
    8. Accessing the Photoshop tools from within Bridge
      2m 28s
    9. Working with Bridge and Photoshop
      2m 40s
    10. Working with Mini Bridge
      4m 36s
  4. 45m 29s
    1. Setting up your color settings
      3m 31s
    2. Choosing preferences for the HUD color picker
      3m 50s
    3. Setting image interpolation preferences
      3m 3s
    4. Modifying zoom preferences
      4m 20s
    5. Changing HUD brush options
      3m 41s
    6. Customizing interface preferences
      3m 30s
    7. Opening up documents in tabs
      4m 11s
    8. Reviewing file-handling preferences
      5m 4s
    9. Setting performance preferences
      4m 23s
    10. Choosing cursor preferences
      5m 14s
    11. Reviewing guides and type preview preferences
      4m 42s
  5. 21m 4s
    1. Exploring two simple steps for more accurate color
      2m 57s
    2. Introducing color profiles
      5m 17s
    3. Opening and saving files with embedded profiles
      7m 33s
    4. Setting up your studio
      1m 59s
    5. A demonstration of monitor calibration
      1m 46s
    6. Finding color management resources
      1m 32s
  6. 28m 34s
    1. Introducing the Tools panel
      4m 53s
    2. Changing the view mode and working with panels
      5m 33s
    3. Opening and arranging multiple documents
      6m 31s
    4. Combining, saving, and closing multiple documents
      5m 17s
    5. Creating custom keyboard shortcuts
      5m 11s
    6. Working with a Wacom tablet
      1m 9s
  7. 18m 24s
    1. The foundation of digital imaging: pixels and bit depth
      6m 12s
    2. Introducing image resizing
      3m 42s
    3. Resizing images effectively
      3m 48s
    4. Resizing and straightening with the Crop tool
      2m 28s
    5. Creative tip: sizing images correctly
      2m 14s
  8. 41m 56s
    1. What is Camera Raw?
      2m 47s
    2. Accessing the Camera Raw preferences
      3m 16s
    3. Improving your images with the basic controls
      7m 0s
    4. Correcting color and white balance
      4m 44s
    5. Processing multiple images at once
      5m 56s
    6. Utilizing the Crop tool to recompose your pictures
      5m 28s
    7. Creating dramatic black-and-white conversions
      5m 34s
    8. Reducing noise and making tack-sharp photos
      7m 11s
  9. 32m 55s
    1. Introducing layers
      2m 22s
    2. Understanding layers and layer transparency
      1m 29s
    3. Working with layer opacity
      3m 29s
    4. Aligning layers
      1m 32s
    5. Creating new layers
      4m 53s
    6. Organizing layers
      2m 31s
    7. Filtering and finding layers
      2m 8s
    8. Adding layer style effects
      5m 28s
    9. Creating a clipping mask
      6m 50s
    10. Targeting and moving layers
      2m 13s
  10. 33m 22s
    1. Making selections with the marquee tools
      4m 50s
    2. Using the three lasso tools
      4m 56s
    3. Selecting with the Magic Wand tool
      5m 43s
    4. Working with the Quick Select tool
      7m 21s
    5. Selecting based on color with the Color Range controls
      7m 13s
    6. Correcting skin tones with Color Range
      3m 19s
  11. 23m 2s
    1. Introducing masking
      1m 14s
    2. Painting away the contents of a layer with a mask
      3m 59s
    3. Using a selection to build a mask
      3m 3s
    4. Removing a subject from the background with a mask
      6m 37s
    5. Using a mask to selectively sharpen an image
      3m 58s
    6. Making selections with Quick Mask
      4m 11s
  12. 13m 42s
    1. Creating a custom border using selections and masks
      5m 4s
    2. Painting custom border effects
      3m 34s
    3. Using prebuilt borders
      4m 13s
    4. Exploring the PhotoFrame plug-in
      51s
  13. 11m 49s
    1. Adding brightness and contrast
      3m 3s
    2. Using hue and saturation and the Target Adjustment tool
      5m 34s
    3. Working with vibrancy and saturation
      3m 12s
  14. 14m 36s
    1. Working with auto levels
      3m 36s
    2. Enhancing color and tone with levels
      4m 12s
    3. Painting in adjustments with levels and masking
      4m 10s
    4. Creative tip: checking in
      2m 38s
  15. 29m 50s
    1. Introducing the Curves dialog box
      3m 12s
    2. Using auto curves and adjustments to enhance an image
      4m 17s
    3. Changing brightness with curves and masks
      3m 59s
    4. Using curves and masks to improve tone and color
      4m 56s
    5. Making advanced selections and masks
      3m 53s
    6. Enhancing a portrait with hand-painted masks
      5m 53s
    7. Using, modifying, and saving curves presets
      3m 40s
  16. 20m 12s
    1. Introducing the magic of blend modes
      6m 33s
    2. Blending multiple images together
      3m 50s
    3. Using blending modes to remove white or black
      2m 8s
    4. Improving exposure, contrast, and color with blending
      5m 37s
    5. Using blending shortcuts
      2m 4s
  17. 10m 26s
    1. Working with color correction in Camera Raw
      1m 21s
    2. Correcting color with the eyedroppers
      3m 11s
    3. Correcting color and tone with the eyedroppers
      5m 54s
  18. 36m 1s
    1. Using a Replace Color adjustment
      4m 14s
    2. Using Replace Color, Hue/Saturation, and masks
      5m 32s
    3. Replacing color with advanced masking
      7m 14s
    4. Selecting and modifying color with the Hue/Saturation eyedroppers
      2m 30s
    5. Using Color Balance to create vivid color
      4m 3s
    6. Modifying color with Selective Color
      5m 3s
    7. Changing color with Photo Filter
      4m 4s
    8. Making creative color changes with Color Lookup
      1m 44s
    9. Creative tip: shoot more
      1m 37s
  19. 35m 13s
    1. The modern equivalent of a traditional technique
      1m 40s
    2. Introducing two burn and dodge techniques
      7m 22s
    3. Burning and dodging with the Brush and Gradient tools
      4m 18s
    4. Dodging and reducing shadows in a portrait
      6m 0s
    5. Using selections, masks, and curves to change tonality
      7m 21s
    6. Improving a black-and-white landscape
      8m 32s
  20. 16m 9s
    1. The power of black and white
      4m 14s
    2. Converting a portrait to black and white
      4m 6s
    3. Converting a landscape to black and white
      4m 23s
    4. Adding grain and tone to a black-and-white image
      3m 26s
  21. 31m 57s
    1. Introducing Smart Filters
      3m 36s
    2. Applying Smart Filters
      6m 20s
    3. Creating a soft contrast effect
      6m 38s
    4. Changing focus with the Blur Gallery
      3m 40s
    5. Working with Tilt-Shift Blur
      3m 52s
    6. Creating a realistic lens flare
      2m 45s
    7. Adding light with the Lighting Effects filter
      5m 6s
  22. 12m 33s
    1. Using the Noise Reduction filter
      3m 46s
    2. Exploring advanced noise reduction using channels
      2m 49s
    3. Masking in noise reduction to a specific area
      2m 1s
    4. Reducing noise with Surface Blur
      3m 57s
  23. 48m 30s
    1. Cleaning before you enhance
      1m 2s
    2. Introducing the healing and cloning tools
      7m 22s
    3. Cleaning up the background of an image
      6m 21s
    4. Basic portrait retouching
      3m 15s
    5. Brightening shadows under the eyes
      4m 53s
    6. Brightening the eyes
      2m 30s
    7. Retouching selected areas
      5m 27s
    8. Using Content-Aware Fill to remove distractions
      5m 34s
    9. Moving a subject with the Content-Aware Move tool
      7m 54s
    10. Changing shape and dimension with Liquify
      4m 12s
  24. 24m 2s
    1. Using the Lens Correction filter
      6m 52s
    2. Reducing exaggerated distortion
      5m 16s
    3. Applying Free Transform to correct perspective
      3m 49s
    4. Correcting distortion with the Perspective Crop tool
      3m 45s
    5. Using Puppet Warp to correct perspective
      4m 20s
  25. 26m 48s
    1. Combining two photos with movement
      4m 12s
    2. Using two frames for a group photo
      4m 57s
    3. Creating a panoramic photo from multiple frames
      3m 37s
    4. Correcting distortion with the Adaptive Wide Angle correction
      7m 34s
    5. Cropping, filling in the gaps, and making final panographic adjustments
      6m 28s
  26. 27m 24s
    1. Working with Smart Sharpen
      6m 17s
    2. Using Unsharpen Mask
      4m 49s
    3. High Pass sharpening an image
      4m 47s
    4. Selectively sharpening the in-focus areas of an image
      3m 35s
    5. Selective sharpening with hand-drawn masks
      7m 56s
  27. 22m 44s
    1. Preparing images for the web and email
      4m 38s
    2. Sharpening for the web
      3m 5s
    3. Using Save for Web to create an optimized JPEG
      4m 26s
    4. Exporting images to Facebook or Flickr
      4m 46s
    5. Creating a web gallery
      5m 49s
  28. 26m 6s
    1. Desktop printing recommendations
      2m 46s
    2. Creating a PDF layout and contact sheets
      5m 56s
    3. Using a soft proof to visualize the print
      8m 0s
    4. Adjusting printer settings
      3m 43s
    5. Customizing the Print dialog box options
      5m 41s
  29. 32m 4s
    1. Opening up a video file in Photoshop
      7m 7s
    2. Editing a video clip and adding text
      5m 15s
    3. Using adjustment layers and adding an audio track
      4m 47s
    4. Creating a project with multiple clips
      4m 55s
    5. Adding a cross-dissolve fade and creating custom shortcuts
      4m 43s
    6. Customizing the workspace to review your project
      3m 2s
    7. Exporting a project
      2m 15s
  30. 3m 4s
    1. Exploring additional resources and ways to keep in touch
      2m 29s
    2. Goodbye
      35s

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