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A first look at Curves

A first look at Curves provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Deke McClelland as p… Show More

Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

with Deke McClelland

Video: A first look at Curves

A first look at Curves provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Deke McClelland as part of the Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced
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  1. 22m 25s
    1. Welcome to Photoshop CS4 One-on-One Advanced
      1m 43s
    2. Installing the DekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      6m 9s
    3. Resetting the function keys on a Mac
      3m 51s
    4. Installing the CS4 color settings
      4m 37s
    5. Setting up the CS4 color settings
      6m 5s
  2. 2h 44m
    1. Highlights, shadows, and midtones
    2. Low contrast, bad meter
      5m 57s
    3. Auto tone, contrast, and color
      8m 1s
    4. Cache levels and the Histogram palette
      7m 16s
    5. How the auto commands work
      10m 15s
    6. A first look at Levels
      6m 11s
    7. Target colors and clipping
      9m 6s
    8. Modifying input levels
      9m 44s
    9. Adjusting the gamma value
      7m 35s
    10. Previewing clipping
      7m 18s
    11. The futility of output levels
      4m 56s
    12. Channel-by-channel edits
      11m 54s
    13. When levels fail
      4m 35s
    14. A first look at Curves
      8m 46s
    15. Static Curves layer tricks
      7m 45s
    16. Dynamic Curves layer tricks
      7m 25s
    17. Correcting the composite image
      8m 30s
    18. Neutralizing a color cast
      6m 52s
    19. The Target Adjustment tool in Curves
      8m 29s
    20. Correcting an image in Lab
      10m 7s
    21. The Shadows/Highlights filter
      4m 19s
    22. Radius and tonal width
      8m 11s
  3. 1h 48m
    1. Edge-enhancement tricks
      1m 13s
    2. How sharpening works
      3m 48s
    3. The single-shot sharpeners
      4m 29s
    4. The Unsharp Mask filter
      7m 57s
    5. Understanding the Radius value
      6m 25s
    6. Gauging the best settings
      7m 47s
    7. Previewing how sharpening will print
      3m 37s
    8. Measuring and setting screen resolution
      6m 57s
    9. Tweaking the screen resolution
      4m 28s
    10. Sharpening the luminance data
      8m 23s
    11. USM vs. Smart Sharpen
      4m 23s
    12. Smart Sharpen's Remove settings
      5m 50s
    13. High-resolution sharpening
      6m 16s
    14. When to leave More Accurate off
      3m 48s
    15. When to turn More Accurate on
      4m 24s
    16. The advanced options
      7m 57s
    17. Saving Smart Sharpen settings
      4m 23s
    18. Accounting for camera shake
      7m 7s
    19. Sharpening with the High Pass filter
      9m 8s
  4. 2h 16m
    1. Why would you blur?
      1m 8s
    2. Fading after an undo
      3m 27s
    3. The "bell-shaped" Gaussian Blur
      5m 43s
    4. The linear Box Blur
      3m 6s
    5. Add Noise vs. Median
      4m 50s
    6. Despeckle vs. Dust & Scratches
      6m 31s
    7. Smart Blur vs. Surface Blur
      8m 13s
    8. The Motion Blur filter
      4m 33s
    9. Radial Blur's Spin and Zoom variations
      5m 48s
    10. Mixing filtered effects
      3m 56s
    11. The "Captain Kirk in Love" effect
      5m 4s
    12. Diffusing focus with Blur and Overlay
      8m 50s
    13. Simulating Vaseline and film grain
      8m 2s
    14. Filling a layer with a neutral color
      2m 55s
    15. Old-school contrast reduction
      3m 39s
    16. Three steps to diffused focus
      7m 36s
    17. Averaging skin tones
      9m 45s
    18. Addressing the stubborn patches
      5m 26s
    19. Combining Gaussian Blur and Average
      6m 1s
    20. Blurring surface details
      3m 3s
    21. Smoothing blemishes while matching noise
      8m 6s
    22. Reducing digital noise
      8m 47s
    23. Striking a smooth/sharpen compromise
      4m 36s
    24. Smoothing over JPEG artifacts
      7m 38s
  5. 2h 31m
    1. Independent layers of color adjustment
      1m 7s
    2. Undersea color channels
      4m 2s
    3. Inventing a Red channel with Lab
      8m 20s
    4. Mixing color channels
      6m 55s
    5. Making shadows with Levels
      7m 5s
    6. Applying small color adjustments
      6m 0s
    7. Further modifying Levels in Lab
      8m 50s
    8. Creating a dynamic fill layer
      4m 38s
    9. Brushing and blending color
      4m 42s
    10. Working with "found masks"
      7m 31s
    11. Saturation, sharpen, and crop
      8m 9s
    12. Mixing a monochromatic image
      7m 2s
    13. Masking an adjustment layer
      4m 45s
    14. Working with Opacity and blend modes
      3m 39s
    15. Adding a black-and-white adjustment
      5m 53s
    16. The Target Adjustment tool in black and white
      6m 12s
    17. Tinting a monochrome photo
      3m 20s
    18. Introducing Gradient Map
      4m 17s
    19. Adjusting both color and luminance
      5m 44s
    20. Infusing elements with different colors
      6m 22s
    21. Adjustment layers as creative tools
      4m 34s
    22. Inverting and brightening the background
      5m 14s
    23. Blurring live, editable type
      5m 44s
    24. Hue, saturation, and darkness
      6m 51s
    25. Filling type with a color adjustment
      3m 24s
    26. Using one adjustment to modify another
      3m 21s
    27. Breathing color into the title
      3m 38s
    28. The Hue/Saturation humanoid
      3m 44s
  6. 1h 48m
    1. Parametric operations
      1m 23s
    2. The power of blend modes
      6m 16s
    3. Changing the Opacity value
      5m 46s
    4. Opacity vs. Fill Opacity
      4m 37s
    5. Meet the blend modes
      6m 4s
    6. Blend mode shortcuts
      7m 8s
    7. Darken, Multiply, and the Burn modes
      6m 33s
    8. Tempering a Burn effect with Fill
      4m 43s
    9. Saving a blended state
      4m 18s
    10. Lighten, Screen, and the Dodge modes
      8m 22s
    11. Linear Burn = Add minus white
      5m 31s
    12. Overlay and the contrast modes
      6m 52s
    13. Fill Opacity takes priority
      6m 19s
    14. Difference and exclusion
      5m 21s
    15. Using difference for golden highlights
      4m 2s
    16. The composite (HSL) modes
      6m 8s
    17. The brush-only modes: Behind and Clear
      10m 31s
    18. Layer groups and the Pass Through mode
      8m 54s
  7. 1h 53m
    1. It's all about the presentation
    2. Moving a layer a specific number of pixels
      6m 59s
    3. Adding a pixel mask to a layer
      5m 48s
    4. Editing a layer mask
      7m 19s
    5. Combining layers into a clipping mask
      6m 19s
    6. Introducing the Advanced Blending options
      4m 45s
    7. Using the luminance blending sliders
      7m 26s
    8. Forcing through underlying luminance
      4m 32s
    9. Masking with a path outline
      5m 45s
    10. Refining a mask from the Masks palette
      7m 18s
    11. Creating and modifying a layer group
      3m 29s
    12. Establishing a knockout group
      5m 29s
    13. Fixing last-minute problems
      6m 23s
    14. Introducing layer comps
      6m 40s
    15. Exploring layered states
      6m 43s
    16. Deleting layers and updating comps
      6m 18s
    17. Saving a basic composition
      6m 21s
    18. Assigning and saving appearance attributes
      7m 15s
    19. Layer comps dos and don'ts
      7m 27s
  8. 1h 56m
    1. Type: The great imaging exception
    2. Establishing default formatting attributes
      4m 6s
    3. Saving formatting attributes as a preset
      8m 5s
    4. Making a point text layer
      6m 18s
    5. Editing size and leading
      6m 44s
    6. Working with vector-based text
      6m 12s
    7. Formatting area text
      4m 16s
    8. Creating a layer of area text
      3m 20s
    9. Resizing the text frame
      4m 34s
    10. Changing the anti-aliasing setting
      3m 58s
    11. Obscure but important formatting options
      6m 31s
    12. Text editing tricks and shortcuts
      8m 44s
    13. Creating a cast shadow
      6m 1s
    14. Blurred shadows and beveled text
      7m 16s
    15. Drawing a path outline
      4m 51s
    16. Creating type on a path
      6m 39s
    17. Flipping text across a circle
      3m 18s
    18. Vertical alignment with baseline shift
      4m 16s
    19. Warping text
      4m 57s
    20. Scaling your text to taste
      3m 33s
    21. Applying a custom warp
      6m 24s
    22. Creating an engraved text effect
      5m 11s
  9. 2h 17m
    1. Bending an image to fit your needs
    2. Creating a canvas texture
      6m 48s
    3. Masking objects against a white background
      5m 42s
    4. Scaling an image to fit a composition
      8m 9s
    5. Aligning one layer to fit another
      3m 52s
    6. Changing the Image Interpolation
      8m 10s
    7. Merging faces
      5m 32s
    8. Rotating the first clock hand
      7m 17s
    9. Adding hands and pasting styles
      6m 40s
    10. Series duplication in Photoshop
      4m 35s
    11. Masking objects against a black background
      6m 34s
    12. Skews and perspective distortions
      7m 57s
    13. Envelope-style warps
      9m 2s
    14. Old-school distortion filters
      8m 50s
    15. Introducing the Liquify filter
      4m 9s
    16. Reconstructing an image
      6m 55s
    17. Using the Warp tool
      5m 16s
    18. The Pucker and Bloat tools
      5m 53s
    19. Push, Turbulence, and Twirl
      6m 41s
    20. The Freeze and Thaw mask tools
      5m 45s
    21. Saving and loading a mesh file
      3m 59s
    22. Creating and applying a texture layer
      8m 30s
  10. 1h 28m
    1. Effects vs. styles
      1m 11s
    2. Of layer styles and masks
      4m 37s
    3. Everything about drop shadow
      8m 2s
    4. Adding a directional glow
      4m 39s
    5. Colorizing with Color Overlay
      5m 18s
    6. Stroke and fill opacity
      5m 48s
    7. Creating a multicolor Outer Glow
      9m 22s
    8. Introducing Bevel and Emboss
      7m 48s
    9. Contour and Texture
      4m 35s
    10. Simulating liquid reflections
      6m 28s
    11. Saving layer styles
      6m 18s
    12. Applying and appending styles
      4m 36s
    13. Saving and swapping style presets
      3m 16s
    14. The five effect helpers
      3m 47s
    15. Blending the effect before the layer
      5m 1s
    16. Colorizing a signature
      3m 30s
    17. Clipping an effect with a mask
      4m 5s
  11. 1h 50m
    1. Welcome to the digital darkroom
      1m 46s
    2. Opening Camera Raw in the Bridge
      5m 44s
    3. The Camera Raw 5 interface
      4m 39s
    4. Adjusting the white balance
      5m 0s
    5. Finessing and saving changes
      7m 55s
    6. Using the White Balance tool
      2m 43s
    7. Working with the Exposure controls
      7m 34s
    8. Straightening and cropping a raw image
      5m 53s
    9. Applying automatic exposure adjustments
      6m 6s
    10. Exposure warnings
      5m 44s
    11. Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation
      4m 47s
    12. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      3m 33s
    13. Dodging with the Adjustment brush
      9m 24s
    14. Tone Curve adjustments
      6m 54s
    15. Using the Spot Removal tool
      2m 48s
    16. Removing noise and sharpening detail
      4m 5s
    17. Adjusting HSL values
      4m 18s
    18. Adjusting luminance, color by color
      4m 14s
    19. Black and white and split toning
      5m 16s
    20. Camera Raw tips and tricks
      7m 32s
    21. Correcting JPEG and TIFF images
      4m 43s
  12. 57s
    1. Until next time

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A first look at Curves
Video Duration: 8m 46s 20h 57m Intermediate


A first look at Curves provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Deke McClelland as part of the Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

View Course Description

Photoshop is one of the world’s most powerful image editors, and it can be daunting to try to use skillfully. Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.

Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.

Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.

Topics include:
  • Using blend modes, adjustment layers, and layer styles
  • Organizing a layered composition so it is fluid and editable
  • Creating and editing type in Photoshop
  • Using blur effectively
  • Using adjustment layers to add color
  • Combining layers into a clipping mask
  • Working with Camera Raw
Design Photography

A first look at Curves

I am still looking at the High- contrast elephant.jpg image. In the previous exercise we learned how and why the Levels command, despite its amazing immense power tool is no match for this elephant right here. And what you do? When the Levels command fails, you move one step forward to the Curves command. I'll show you what I mean. I'll go ahead and cancel all of here. Despite any modifications I may have made, I may get to this point, so that's looking better I guess, but not better enough, so I'll just cancel out, because you don't want to heap one color modification on top of another if you can avoid it.

Levels and Curves really overlap each other, so really no sense in applying Levels and then applying Curves right afterward. So I'll cancel out of here. I'm going to go to the Image menu, choose Adjustments and there it is. Levels command. Failure where this image is concerned, so we move just one step there to Curves. So also notice that our keyboard shortcuts move one step. Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac, for Levels, Ctrl+ M or Command+M on the Mac for Curves. And that brings up this big whopping Curves dialog box right here, to give you sense of what's going on. Even if you come to terms with Levels, and you are trying to feel comfortable with it, then seem the Curves command is enough to panic many people. But it's actually fairly straightforward once you come to terms with it. So hopefully we will, over the course of these next few exercises.

Notice that right dead center in the middle of this ginormous Curves dialog box here is this Luminance graph. And then inside of the graph, cutting across it is this diagonal line, which is the Luminance curve. Now I know that it doesn't make a lot of sense that I'm calling it a diagonal line or Curve, when it's most certainly not a curve, but it wants to be a curve, and it will be a curve, the second you start modifying it. Also notice here inside of this Luminance graph that we have a Histogram. The exact same Histogram we were seeing just a moment ago. Now that may puzzle you a little bit, because it looks like it's squished, and it truly it's not squished, it's stretched, it's what's going on here.

It is still 256 pixels wide, just as it was inside the Levels dialog box. It's just that, because the Luminance graph is a square, the Histogram is scaled, so that it's taller. All the bars in this Histogram graph here have been scaled relative to the height of the graph as it were. So anyway, we know by looking at this graph here, this Histogram, that we have a lot of shadows over here on the left hand side, so just this huge peak of shadows. Not too many mid tones, relatively few, and then quite a few highlights dropping suddenly right there at the end. And these are the guys we need to fix.

We need to draw these highlights down to make them darker, and we need to boost these shadows up to make them brighter. Then sort of, monkey around with the midtones until we get rid of the color cast. So how do we do such a thing? Well, here's how you work inside of this graph. First of all make sure that you've seen the graph the way I am. This is default RGB behavior by the way, where black is located over here on the left side of the graph and white is located over here on the right side of the graph. And that's the way I prefer to work, and that's the way that it works inside the Levels command. So it's easier to keep things similar I figure, and also that's the way I'm going to be working. So I just want to make sure you are too, you probably are. But just to make sure, come down here to this option that says Show Amount of, and if can't see it, by the way you got this double arrow icon, you can go in and click on it to expand the Curve Display Options. Make sure Show amount of is set to Light, 0-255, which are the luminance levels, of course, as opposed to pigment, which will flip the graph, notice that. Now blacks are over here on the right side, and whites are over on the left side, and that's just confusing as heck to me anyway.

But that's the way it is by default for CMYK images incidentally. But you can always switch it to light instead, if you want to. You can always work that way, regardless of whether you are working on RGB images or CMYK image, or what have you. Also notice this output graph right here, or output access is where it actually is. It's going from black to bottom, to white at the top. Okay, so, what does all this mean, how in the world do you work inside this crazy environment? Well, what I suggest you do for this image, anyway, just for starters, just to get a sense of what's going on is just go ahead and click right in the center of that diagonal line, and notice I have done two things. I set a point, and I actually moved it slightly, so I have curved what was formerly a straight diagonal line, so it is now a curve.

Ever so slight, it is not a super curve, just a very, sort of a subtle curve at this point. But I can make it less subtle by dragging it. So this becomes a custom point in my graph. I can put as many points on this line as I like, as many as I can stuff into this graph at any rate. Typically you work with maybe 4 or 5 points, you don't work with a ton. But you can, you do have that level of control if you need it. Now, in my case I have only got 3 points. I have got this point in the center, and notice by the way it's an input level of 128. So thing started here, I'll put it back where it was, where we've studied originally.

Input of 128 and an output of 128, what that mean is we are starting with a gray. So we are not working with Gamma anymore, forget the whole Gamma thing. We are working with this Gray point, which is 128, so it's right there in the center, between 0 for black and 255 for white. And it's mapping to 128, so in other words, it's not moving at this point. But if I were to drag it up, I'm going to boost the midtones inside of this elephant as you can see, because I'm now saying, I moved my input level a little bit, because when you move that point back and forth, notice that it changes that input value right there, but that's insignificant at this point.

But now it's 124 so it's still right there somewhere near the center, and I've moved it up to 153 so I'm elevating those neutral gray values right there. Well, I'm leaving the black point alone, and I'm leaving the white point alone. So this is just as if I modified the Gamma value inside the Levels dialog box. I know I told you just a moment ago to forget about it. What I meant was forget about how gamma is measured as an exponent, but this is the same thing. This is just like taking a Gamma value that Gray slider bar and moving it over to left in order to boost the midtones inside the image. And this is the level of control you are afforded by Levels.

Now I can also either just grab this black point right there and move it around, or notice here, I can actually drag this black point slider if I want to, so that's analogous to the black point slider inside the Levels dialog box. And I can move the white point slider if I wanted to do as well. But both of these guys are going to increase the contrast of said pachyderm here, and that's not what we want. So I'm going to go ahead and change this back to 0, and change this one back to 255. Instead, what I probably want to do is add more points for the quarter tones, that is, for these regions here inside of the shadows, and well inside of the shadows and the highlights.

So for example, I can set a point here arbitrarily, I'm just clicking, and then I could drag it down to sync those highlights a little. Now the images aren't looking really great at this point. I'm just trying to give you a sense of where we might go with it, and then I can click inside the shadows and I can boost those guys up, and then if I wanted more control, I can click like right about here, and take that down a little bit, and take these midtones down. You see, I can just click and drag any points along this curve in order to modify the luminance levels of the animal here in the background or the image, more appropriately I think.

And notice that as I do, if I drag a point up where it is going to brighten that region of color, and if I drag it down it's going to darken it, so that's something to bear in mind as well. And I could drag upward so that I can bring out those shadows, and you can see now there's like this rock, or this hideous grotesque form back here in the shadows that we can draw out, we don't necessarily want to draw a lot of attention to it. But we can if we want to, by modifying the points on the curve, on this luminous curve, here inside of the Curves dialog box.

Now that just gives you a vague sense of what's going on. Notice by the way we have the show clipping, right there; we got a Show clipping checkbox, that will show you where the clipping is occurring, for either the black point or the white point. And you could also turn Show clipping off, and you could Alt+drag if you want to the white point or the black point. So you got those same controls, and that's an option drag of course, of either those slider triangles on the Mackintosh side of things. So a lot of overlap with those Levels controls as well. But just a bunch more control inside of Curves.

In the next exercise I'm going to basically sling a bunch of keyboard tricks at you. Just rat-a-tat, and then you have them in your brain some place floating around. And then we'll use them, and actually make a better elephant in the near future. Join me, won't you?

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