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Adobe Photoshop CC - Advanced Training

Advanced Curves in Adobe Photoshop CC

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, this video is all about getting more out of curves. I'll show you some hidden features in the Auto section. I'll also show you how to actually work on the document, rather than over here in the Curves Panel. I've basically given away most of the tips in this video. There's a couple more, so hang around, let's get going. 

Open up the files, 'Curves 1' and '2' from your '04' folder. We've got these two we're going to work on. This one here is just kind of-- the darks are quite dark, right? So we're going to go to 'Adjustments'. And we are going to go to 'Curves'. Like we did with levels, there's an auto feature, which is cool to get started. I'm going to undo. Who remembers what I hold down to click on 'auto' to get extra pictures? That's right, on a Mac you hold down the 'Option' key, and on a PC you hold down the 'Alt' key. And it just means it's going to default to enhance brighten and contrast. You can just click through to see if one of these other automatic modes are good for you, because what you can do is, you consider it as a default, and then, say you're doing a huge group of photographs, you can set up an action. Then it will remember what you've done in here. 

Let's say we don't want to use auto, we're going to go manual. The first thing people generally ignore with curves is this slider down the bottom here. You can see, the Histogram is all lumped into the dark side of the image. So there's nothing going on in this particular white one. So like we do with levels, just kind of tucking this in. It's going to kind of bring a lot of our work. So we're going to really be clipping all of this. How much are we clipping? Remember our shortcut, if we hold down the 'Alt' key on a PC, or the 'Option' key on a Mac, and I can drag this up, you can see there's just nothing, there's a little bit of specs here and there, and then you can start to see how far you want to go, it's up to you. But you might decide, actually I want to clip it up to here, because I'm okay with that detail loss, but it's really kind of bumped up the image before I even adjusted the curves. 

Now with curves, often it's one of two things, either drag this down a little bit, and that up a little bit, depending on your image, or it's the vice versa, so just in here, it's just like either a little S curve or little Z curve depending on your image. This one here needs to be down, and that one needs to be up. You end up fiddling with this quite a bit, it's a bit disconnected. I'm going to go back a couple of steps until it was back to 0, I'm going to drag this up again, and instead of dragging, like these little dots, what I'm going to do is do it on the actual document. That's what this little hand here does, click on it. And what it does is, you can kind of see, can you see the little dot moving up and down on my Histogram, it's over here. Watch over here, you can see it kind of bouncing up and down. It means that when I decide like, I know that's black, that's fine, but these kind of like, blue jeans here need to just be brighter, so I can click, hold, and drag up. You can see, what it's doing to my Histogram there, it's kind of grabbing those quite dark colors and just lifting them up a bit. 

You can just work on different areas, you might decide that-- I'm going to wreck it because I want to show you an example, but I'm just going to drag this down, or these need to get a bit darker. This needs to get a bit brighter, so you're just kind of working around, and you start gathering dots in a more kind of organic way rather than you just going over here, and just trying laying some dots here. Eyeball 'on', Eyeball 'off'. 

Now the other thing, like we did in Levels is that, don't be afraid to jump in and adjust the red, green, and blue channels separately. You can see here, I'm on the Blue Channel, I'm using the On Art, kind of finger draggy thing, and I can just decide whether I want that particular kind of tone to be more blue or less blue. And I can just do finer adjustments. Green, we don't want to kind of try and move out of that mid tone. Kind of green cast going on there. Even if you don't like using this tool, and you like adjusting these, you can do it per channel. I want to show you, in Curves 2, that On Art dragging thing is not just in curves, what I mean is, this kind of pencil hand thing. A lot of the other tools have it, let's look at, say Hue & Saturation has it. See this one here, and it can be really handy for-- if I click on it, and say this blue shirt here, if I click and drag it left and right, instead of up and down, when I clicked, it jumped, instead of undo, it started off as Master, but as I clicked and dragged, it goes, "Hey, you clicked on cyan, so you must mean that." 

So that's just really handy, it picks the right color, and then you can drag it left and right depending on the saturation. So you might just go, let's say more practical. Using a click and just dragging that up a little bit. Grab on this, drag it up a little bit, rather than having to kind of guess what it is, or use the Eyedropper. So check the different adjustment tools as you're using them, and see this On Art dragging finger thing. 

The other thing you can do is, if you click and drag it as Saturation, you can do Hue as well by holding the, on a Mac it's the 'Command' key, on a PC it's the 'Ctrl' key. If I hold that down and drag, instead of doing Saturation, can you see, it does the Hue. Just a really quick easy way to change that man's shirt. Another thing I want to show you in curves is - we'll use this second adjustment - is let's go to 'Curves', I like-- the kind of fashion look, it's kind of a blue orange teal, or blue and yellow depending on what you're looking for. I find a real quick easy way to get that fashion look, is 'Curves', click on the 'Blue Channel', grab the stopper at the end here and just drag it up, so right at the end, drag it up high and drag this one low. You get this kind of-- hopefully you can see what I mean. It's kind of like fashion photography blue tealy color, and it's super quick and easy to do, doesn't take super long. 

We'll look at a bit more detailed version of that. I'm kind of going on maybe a bit extreme. Hope you get what I mean. So looking good, looking fashion magazine. I love that kind of rose gold teal look. So that is some advanced uses of the Curves Panel. One thing I should note, if you've come from Essentials, curves and levels do, not the exact same thing, I don't want to get in trouble, but they are solving the same problem. We're trying to work on things like the exposure and the color cast. And I've gone to work at places where, they’re like, "Oh my goodness, you're using levels, why are you using levels, curves are so much better,” and I'm like, "Cool", so I got better at curves. Then I go to the next job and they’re like, "Why are you messing around with curves, why aren't you using levels? They're so much better." There's no right or wrong, but people get a little bit passionate about levels versus curves. 

So don't worry too much, I use levels a whole lot more because I'm just doing quick simple adjustments. I'll only open curves if I want to get into the finer, finer details. That's why you'll probably find photographers tend to use curves a lot more. You'll find, if you're a photographer, you'll find a lot more tutorials using curves, because of that finer detail. For me, I'm more in the design space. The photographs often aren't mine, so I'm often not as particular about the hard core detail. They're both great tools but you probably don't need them both at the same time. Either the Levels go, or our Curves go. All right, let's get into the next video.