Join Julieanne Kost for an in-depth discussion in this video Adjusting local color and contrast with Curves, part of Photoshop CC 2018 Essential Training: The Basics.
- [Instructor] One of the most powerful adjustment layers is the curves adjustment layer. In this image I want to select the door of the bank vault and I want to increase the contrast, then I want to remove some of the yellow color cast from the rest of the image, and then add a vignette. So in order to do this, we need to make a selection of the door. I'll select the elliptical marquis tool, I'll click right in the center of the door handle here, and I'll hold down the option key and the shift key to constrain it to a circle, and to drag out from the center.
I'll go ahead and release my cursor, and if I need to reposition my selection I'll position the cursor inside of it and then click and drag. If I need to transform the selection I can choose select and then transform selection and then drag the corner to make it a little bit larger. I'll tap return or enter in order to transform that selection. If I need to nudge it, I can also use the arrow keys to nudge the selection up just a little bit. Since I've made the selection, when I click on the adjustment layer icon and then choose curves, Photoshop automatically turns that selection into a mask.
We can see the histogram in the curve area here. This is just the visual representation of all of the pixels in my image. It goes from black to white, as I can see by this gradient. I can change my black point by moving over the slider on the left. I can change my white point by moving the slider on the right. But I can also add multiple points to the curve. If I click and add one point in the middle of the curve and then drag up and down, this is the same level of control that we had with the middle slider in the levels adjustment layer.
But I can add multiple curves. So if I want to drag this curve down, and then add another curve and drag it up, I can create an S-curve in order to add contrast. If I want to delete a point on a curve, if it's selected, I can just tap the delete key or I can click and drag the point off the curve. If I want to use the onscreen adjustment I can select it, and then click in my image area and drag up to lighten that area or drag down in order to darken that area.
In order to remove a color cast, I can grab the middle eyedropper here and click in a neutral area in my image. Let's close the properties panel and then I'll select the brush tool by tapping the B key. I'll get a little smaller brush using the left bracket key, and then I'll paint in this area right here with white in my mask in order to add this area to the mask. By painting with white it's going to show the adjustment in that area.
I'll come down to the bottom and paint in this area as well. In order to paint a straight line, I can hold down the shift key. If I want to view the mask, I can option click in the mask just to make sure that I'm not missing any areas. I'll click in the eye icon in order to view the image again. In order to change the background, I'm going to reuse the mask that I've already created by holding down the command key, and clicking in the mask. Then, under the select menu, I'll choose inverse and then add a black and white adjustment layer by clicking on the adjustment layer icon and choosing black and white.
If I wanted to reveal a little bit of color from the original image, I could change the opacity of the black and white adjustment layer. Lowering the opacity will slowly reveal more and more color. For now, I'll leave the opacity set to 100%. Let's take a look at the mask on the properties panel. I can add a feather to soften the edge, and I can also change the density slider. The density slider will control the darkest value in my mask.
So right now I have areas of my mask that are black. If I move the density slider over to the left, those values become lighter and lighter gray. As they become lighter and lighter gray, this adjustment layer will affect the entire image including the door area, because a white mask reveals the adjustment. So as I lighten this gray, I'm revealing the black and white adjustment layer. Alright, I'll go ahead and move the density back over to 100%.
Finally, to add a vignette to the entire image, from the bottom of the layers panel I'll select another curves adjustment layer. I'll drag the curve down until I get the darkness value that I want around the edge of my image, ignoring the center part for now. I'll go to the curve icon and choose invert which will fill the mask with black. I'll then close the properties panel, tap the B key to get my paintbrush, use the right bracket key to get a larger brush, make sure that white is my foreground color, and change my opacity to 50% by tapping the five key, and then painting around the edge of my image in order to reveal that curves adjustment layer that darkens down the edges.
If I pain multiple times, I can slowly build up the vignette around the image If I want to see a before and after I can hold down the option key and click on the eye icon next to the background layer. That will toggle the visibility of all of the other layers. So I'll option click; there's before. Option click again; there's after. As you can see, making changes to images both globally and locally, is easy and flexible using adjustment layers in Photoshop.
Julieanne reviews the basics of digital imaging—from working with multiple images to customizing the Photoshop interface to suit your needs. She shows how to use different Photoshop tools to crop and retouch photos, while always maintaining the highest-quality output. She also demonstrates the most efficient ways to perform common tasks, including working with layers, making selections, and masking. Along the way, she shares the secrets of nondestructive editing using Smart Objects, and helps you master features such as adjustment layers, blend modes, filters, and much more—increasing your productivity every step of the way.
- Opening documents in Photoshop
- Opening files from Bridge and Lightroom
- Working with multiple documents
- Panning and zooming documents
- Customizing the Photoshop interface
- Modifying keyboard shortcuts for speed
- Understanding file formats
- Choosing color modes, bit depth, and color space
- Cropping and transforming images
- Working with layers and layer masks
- Making selections
- Removing distracting elements
- Getting to know the blend modes
- Working with adjustment layers
- Applying non-destructive filters
- Getting to know the blend modes
- Applying filters