Join Taz Tally for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting up your Curves workspace, part of Advanced Photoshop: Curves.
- Here, let's discuss how to set up Photoshop's work space so that you can maximize its ease of use, access to tools and just have the tools up that you're wanting to use when you're working in curves. So, what's the first thing we wanna do. Well, first decision you wanna make is whether you wanna have floating documents or not. In Photoshop CC, you have the ability to take a document and add it to the dock or what we call docking it. What that does, it keeps the image in the same place. Notice what happens here. If I have lots of these panels open, the image goes behind, which I don't particularly like.
This is a personal choice. Notice we pull this down, then we can un-dock it and it floats freely. I like to have mine floating freely because typically, I'm working on one image at a time. If you're working on multiple images, sometimes the docking is nice and makes it easy to access your images. But for single image work, which is typically what I'm doing, I like to be able to place my image where I want, place my panels and then, go from there. Personal choice, personal preference, but either way, go ahead and set up your preferences underneath your work space.
Notice I have my Open Documents in Tabs checked off so that it doesn't dock the image when it opens up and then, notice this is checked on, Enable Floating Document Window Docking. I'm going to turn that off as well and that way, I won't by mistake, and I'm going to click OK, dock my image up here and have it end up in the middle of the image. That's the first decision you want to make. Second decision is how we're going to access the curves dialog box and this is an important difference or distinction that I'm about to make. Underneath Image and Adjustments and you go to Curves, you probably know how to access this if you've ever used Curves at all and it brings up this dedicated Curves dialog box.
This is the Curves dialog box that's been with us since Curves was added to Photoshop way back, but this is not the dialog box you want to use because this is going to severely restrict the edit ability of any adjustments that you make 'cause this applies the adjustments directly to the image. Rather, what you want to use instead of that Curves dialog box, underneath Image, what you want to do is go to Layer and we're going to come underneath Adjustment Layer and go to Curves. Now watch what happens over here underneath the Layers panel when I do this.
We can name this and we'll call this the Whole Image Curve. And you choose to use an adjustment layer. It adds a layer called an adjustment layer to your image, which means that, when you use this, no matter what you do or how awful you treat your image, you can always turn that off, turn it on. You can undo it, redo it. It gives you complete, non-destructive editing capability so you can redo and undo as much as you want to your hearts desire.
So, we're going to be using your Curves Adjustment Layer the entire time, not the curves dialog box. Alright now, for accessing the curves adjustment layers, we started with by going underneath Layer and going underneath New Adjustment Layer and Curves. I never do that, alright? When I want to create and activate a curves adjustment layer, I do it right from either the layers panel down here, going to Curves. Notice a new one was created or I can use the adjustments panel as you see here and just click on the curves icon and again, it creates a new curves adjustment layer.
Either one of those that you want to use. It's unnecessary to go to the layers panel. But I just wanted to show you the difference between image and layer. Okay so, you can either float or not float. We're going to be using curves adjustment layers, so it's non-destructive image editing with maximum amount of edit ability and then, the panels that we're going to be using in this course are the properties panel. Layers, channel, the adjustments, histogram, and then info. These are the only ones you really want to have up unless you want to add additional panels for your own purposes and use for your own editing, but these are the ones we'll be using in this course.
We're going to use these integratively, we're going to use them together. Now, what's the adjustments panel about? Sometimes I have it up. Sometimes I don't. It just gives you a quick and easy way to visually click on an icon to create a curves adjustment layer as opposed to clicking on this sub-menu at the bottom of the layers panel and then going to curves. You'll notice that I also have Channels up here and if I'm doing partial image editing and using Layer masks to control where I'm going to be applying curves adjustment layers adjustments, then sometimes I'll float the channels panel out separately so that I can see and then select the alpha channels that I'm going to create.
But otherwise, if I'm not, if I'm just doing whole image editing, I'll just tuck it right back in there. So, these are the panels that you want to have up. And of course, you'll access and activate all these panels from the Windows menu as you see here and these check boxes besides the ones that we have. Then, notice I have my properties panel, which is pretty large here. So, it's easy for us to see what we're doing and then we've got the layers panel and the histogram. Any adjustments that we make here, we're going to kinda chart and map and monitor over here.
And then we're going to use the info panel, which sometimes, I will indeed float and move over next to my image for doing numeric corrections and adjustments using curves. Then, when you get your panels set up basically the way that you want them and you might want to just start like this so that we match, then you can come out in the Window and go to Workspace and you can create your own new workspace as I have done here. Notice it says Taz Curves. So, I've created this workspace called Taz Curves and I can go back to my default taz workspace anytime I want.
I can just reset Taz Curves and it puts everything right back the way I originally had it. So, you can save a workspace and then, when you want to work in curves and do the kind of adjustments we're going to be making, boom, you can just have those panels active, that you need and want. So, there's setting up your Photoshop workspace for maximizing your ease of use and access to controls in Photoshop.
- Using Curves adjustment layers for nondestructive editing
- Setting highlights and shadows
- Making area-specific tonal adjustments
- Using masks to control adjustments
- Adjusting color, brightness, and contrast
- Making quick adjustments
- Fine-tuning your curves