Photoshop Curves Tool: 6 techniques every photographer must know

Photoshop Curves Tool: 6 techniques every photographer must know

The Photoshop Curves tool is one of the most powerful commands you have in the digital darkroom. But it can be intimidating to some. Here are 6 Photoshop Curves techniques every photographer should incorporate into their workflow.

Photoshop Curves Tool: 6 techniques every photographer must know

The Photoshop Curves command is your most powerful tool for adjusting tones to brighten, darken, add contrast and shift colours, yet many users choose to avoid it.

The problem is, despite being the most effective, it’s also one of the most difficult commands to get to grips with. This may be why Adobe has never included it in the more beginner-friendly Photoshop Elements.

As Elements gets better and better with every new release, the lack of a full Curves command remains one of the few big reasons not to plump for the more wallet-friendly version of Photoshop.

Beginners need not fear. After you’ve spent a little time experimenting, Curves quickly becomes the go-to tool for many tonal tweaks. It’s often the first edit you make on an image.

And as well as being one of the most powerful tools Photoshop has on offer, it’s one of the most versatile.

Whether you want to lighten a dark scene, boost contrast and colour, check for clipped pixels or make a variety of colour shifts, Curves is the tool for the job.

So, read on for six top tips to help you master the best tonal tool Photoshop has to offer.

Essential Photoshop Curves Techniques: 01 Curves Adjustment Layer

Essential Photoshop Curves Techniques: 01 Curves Adjustment Layer

Curves is best applied as an Adjustment Layer. Go to the Layers Panel, click the Create Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom and choose Curves.

Now your original image remains untouched.

Whatever settings you apply are editable by double-clicking the layer thumbnail, and you can take advantage of all the options working with layers allows, such as Masks, Blend Modes and Opacity.

PAGE 1: Essential Photoshop Curves Techniques – 01 Curves Adjustment Layer
PAGE 2: Essential Photoshop Curves Techniques – 02 The Curve line
PAGE 3: Essential Photoshop Curves Techniques – 03 Set white and black points
PAGE 4: Essential Photoshop Curves Techniques – 04 The amazing S-curve
PAGE 5: Essential Photoshop Curves Techniques – 05 Making selective adjustments
PAGE 6: Essential Photoshop Curves Techniques – 06 Tweaking colour channels
PAGE 7: Inside the Photoshop Curves interface

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