Understand Curves (VERY POWERFUL)

PHOTOSHOP TUTORIAL: Learn all about the very powerful Curves adjustment! | We will cover all the basics of Curves, using Curves to adjust color and white balance, and how to actually know what you’re doing when it comes to using Curves in Photoshop.

In this Photoshop tutorial, I’ll break down the Curves adjustment for you and whether you’re beginner or advanced at using this adjustment, there is surely something new to learn here. I hope you enjoy the video!

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Tutorial Recording Notes:

Disclaimer: these are the actual notes I used to record this video and are written in a language you may or may not understand. Hopefully, you find them useful or cool.

  1. I’ve often said that my favorite feature in all of Photoshop is Curves. It’s so powerful and versatile that if you use Photoshop for anything at all, but especially if you’re into photography, you need to know how to use Curves.
  2. Open Curves adjustment and cover the basics of the dialog box
  3. Pull up to brighten/down to darken
  4. Click to add a point anywhere/drag any point off
  5. Use the histogram overlay to aide in the process of targeting areas of the image
  6. White and black point and fading/dulling
  7. Hold Alt/Opt to reset the dialog box
  8. Finger scrubby tool
  9. Bend an “S” curve into this thing to increase contrast
  10. Click and drag the eyedropper that you get in Curves by default and you can identify exactly the part of the curve you need to change
  11. Cmd/Ctrl + click with the eyedropper to drop a point on the Curve in that area
  12. Use arrow keys to move any newly placed/selected point on the Curve
  13. Use the middle eyedropper to once again correct white balance if you have something in the image that you KNOW should be color neutral
  14. Not only can you adjust the brightness in with Curves, but you can also infuse color, correct color, color grade, and do all kinds of color-related stuff. Click on the RGB drop down to reveal access to a Red, Green, and Blue channel.
  15. Go over color opposites and how you can colorize and shift the color grade on an image just by understanding RGB color opposites AND how the histogram works behind the curve
  16. Bonus Tip: You can use the same finger targeted tool to adjust color in specific parts of your photo just like you would have done with the brightness in the RGB composite channel.
  17. Bonus Tip #2: You also want to avoid flat spots in your curve line. Flat lines suck the contrast out of your photo. Also, avoid down hill runs, they invert the color and light in that region and make your photo look terrible as well.