Exploring Curves in Photoshop - Part 1 | Marcin Mikus | Skillshare

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Exploring Curves in Photoshop - Part 1

teacher avatar Marcin Mikus, Retoucher and Photoshop Instructor

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      SKillshare Curves Basics Intro


    • 2.

      First Look at Curve Adjustment Layer


    • 3.

      Shadows and Highlights


    • 4.

      Setting up Brightness and Contrast


    • 5.

      Setting The Right Points on Curve


    • 6.

      Using Luminosity Blending Mode


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About This Class

Curves are most powerful adjustment layer in Photoshop that allows Your to control color, highlights, shadows, or adjusting the Brightness and Contrasts.

In this Class I will teach You all the Basics about Curves. 

I am going to tell You few words about curves, some theory for a good start and teach You to read information that You can get from the histogram. And from that point, we are going to process into basic workflow.

You will know all of the important things about You curves panel. We will process to working with contrast and brightness of You image, I am going to show You how You can easily set the right contrast of You images. You will know how to have control on the exact dark and bright point of You images – fix flat images and push life into them, overexposed images, and just take down some contrast to get back the details. Also You will know how to prevent colors from getting affected by the brightness!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Marcin Mikus

Retoucher and Photoshop Instructor


I'm open minded and creative Photoshop Instructor and interationaly published Professional Retoucher.  The area I'm interested in is photo retouching and photomanipulation. I believe that massive layers of imagination allows me to create interesting, nontrivial ideas.

I've been teaching Photoshop for the last seven years. I spend almost every day with photoshop and in time I was able to gain more and more knowledge about right ways of teaching Photoshop. After few years of teaching on youtube I felt it's the right time to come out with Premium Courses, where I can share some amazing ideas and make Photoshop fun! 

If you are looking for a place where you can learn photoshop retouching in the right way, this is the best place to be!

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1. SKillshare Curves Basics Intro: Hi, everyone. My name is marching and welcome to my class about most powerful, unjust man in Photoshopped. I'm talking about curves. Weicker's Wieters carers curves are most powerful. Adjustment layer in photo shop that allows you to control color highlights shadows sitting on the contrast and many, many others in this class we are going to talk about basic so something great for beginners . If you're a beginner, you have nothing to be worried about because we are starting very simple. I'm going to talk about some theory for a good start to make you feel confident to know how the curves works. And then, on few examples you will know how to control highlights shadows using curves. How to feeds them. How, Toe said the right contrasts for your own needs. You will know all of the important things about curve panel. You'll know how you can easily have control on the contrast, how you can choose the right point on your curve to give it right effect for your images. Also, at the end off all of this practice, you will know something about blending months how to work with them toe prevent colors from getting affected by the brightness. So if you're someone who wants to start with for the shop, who wants to know something about most powerful adjustment layer? And for the shop? This is the perfect lesson. This is the perfect class to start with. 2. First Look at Curve Adjustment Layer: What is really important for me as a your teacher is to not teach you things that will be useless for you. So I'm not going to show you distractive way. I'm not going to show you all adjustment layers because I know you're not going to use certain things in your future work. What I want to teach you is how toe work week, how toward effective, how to work, non distractive and what's most important, how to work creative with for the shop and with curves. If you open Photoshopped. If you are a beginner, maybe you heard about curves. Maybe not, but curves are most important toe. It's the adjustment layer that you goingto work the most, and I could bet on this You you can see this small icon in your photo shop hit this icon and here you can see all of them understand players. One of them is curves, and it is something that should be really important for you and for discourse. You will understand why curves are so important. You can do everything by curves. You can set lights, shadows. You can play with colors. You can retouch your images every possible maybe not every but most of the things you can do using just one adjustment layer. Also, if you have your panel set us essentials as I have after installing photo shop, you'll have these you on just got usedto You have your adjustment panels over here, and you also have your entrustment layers, including curves. So I'm going to do this my way. I always do this my way for this small icon on the bottom and let's open curves. As you can see, this box is quite big. I usually keep this a bit smaller, but it will be easier for us toe understand and how the curves works. I get You can open these and you can just see these books. You can see some history from here, and this is super important for you to understand what the history Graham represents. Let's leave this line for now. Let's be forecast on what we see over here. You Can you have this weird grey shape inside the box and this is our history, Graham. And here you have two sliders off the ball on the bottom dark one. It's not totally black, but we could call this as a black one because it represent the darkest point off the image and the white one, which represent the brightest part off the image. And this thinking side represents the amount off pixels. Insert an area, the amount off dark pixels or the bright pixels. And even by looking at this image, you can easily say that this image has more bright pixels than the dark one. And we can see this on the history, Graham, because here we have dark area and we can go to their to the middle point. Let's say on the middle, it's something like Gray. This is our meat point, and this is the dark area. And as you can see, we don't have really so many dark pixels. But if we go from the middle till the end, half really re a lot off Bride pixels, which represent these arrests over here here would be somewhere some brightest area, probably. And maybe it's a bit too much, no matter which image you're going toe open. Probably if the images don't really look the same, they will have, um, beat different history Graham, or really a lot off differences. This is Amy totally different. I really think it's better image, better composition on especially better light and shadows. And when we open the history Graham, it looks totally different. And we can say this from looking at this image that we have really a lot off rather dark pixels than the white. We don't have really a lot off wise. We don't have many bright points on the meat, and I opened a few more images to show you quickie. This image has really huge variety you can see at the very beginning. We have a lot of that kicks off on. I believe that represented over here around the forest. It's easily, we could say and a lot off these bright pixels as well, and that would be our sky. So it's very important for you to learn how to read history, Graham, because you would understand the photography. You will understand your image. You will understand what's wrong on the image and on this image. This is not really correct because we don't have really very dark pig cells as well as we don't have really bright picks off. So there will be something for sure to repair on this image so as you know, the basics about the darkest point and the brightest point, where we going toe manipulate with them. As you can see, we will be changing the values. But about this will be in the next lesson and you can see you can work in many different way. And there is a lot of similarities with levels, which I would like toa mention on the top. What you can see off this box, we have something like RGB. Our baby is, the more we working, and this represents tree colors red, green and blue. You can change them. March on the image for red, green and blue. And as you can see once again, the colors are located in different areas off the image. Even if it looks like we have really a lot off red colors over here, we cannot see the red color on the image. I could really easily say it's around the face, but it doesn't mean we will see the red color because the image represents all of this color combine, which is RGB. I know it might sound a bit complicated. There's a lot of talk, but you'll get that and the same with green as you can see have a lot of green over here. It doesn't mean it's located really here on the blues, but it's how the colors are located on the meat toe. Give the fully colorful image you see right now, and of course, this will be very different on each image. On this image, you cannot really see the color blue at all. But as you can see, there is a lot of blue color in the dark's because it doesn't have to be visible. Blow just a lot off blue color combined with green and red gives the color that you see on these image. Let's go to the next lesson when finally we can do some work and setting up our lines and shadows toe Fikse to improve our image. 3. Shadows and Highlights: in this lesson leads dough. Some work some basic work when you open your images in photo shop. First thing you want toe check. You want to correct our shadows and highlights the crucial for your image how it's going to look. Their shadows and highlights have to be right. So let's have a look once again on our curve adjustment layer box over here into history, Graham. And let's understand this better. You can see this line. This is our curve, of course, and everything. What's above This line is going toe bright and they meet. Everything was below is going to darken if we're going to move this line. So this is bright and in darkening. That's why when I'm moving my dark slider, as you can see, this white line now is darkening the image. And, as you know in this area, exist our shadow dark pixels in this, our highlight. So I'm darkening the shadows. But highlights over here freshly are not really changing that much. And us. We can easily say I have a lot off dark pixels. I don't feel need to do anything here. I could maybe grab over here and bright and this up, but I don't want to lose the contrast, so that would be not good idea. But you can easily see how does it work? I'm grabbing this on the left side, going here. I'm darkening the shadows going above these middle point, I'm brightening of the shadows. But the issue is with this image is we don't have that many bright pixels. So maybe I could do something about that. Let's hit days and when you goingto press out on your keyboard and grabbed the slider, as you can see, this are my darkest point. So there, somewhere on the her, I could even maybe bright in this up just a little bit. But as I said, I don't think there's a need. So press out or option once again option if working back out, or if you work on Windows and I'm just going to grab this cider and I can see my brightest point are over here somewhere. Her jewelry, her nails. But I want to bring a little bit more on the face, so I'm just going to grab this and very few points up toe bright and the image just as a little bit toe, bring up few more Brightpoint. So that's what would you How would you work? Basically with correcting the highlights and shadows? Let's go into some more complicated example. Are still very basic thing, of course, but let's do everything step by step. And I have these skate girl and what we not is before on this history Graham over here. And we have a lot off pixels just around gray color on the great area, a bit more in the lights. But we don't really have Annie highlights over here as well as really dark shadows. What I would do, I would grab the darkest point to go somewhere here, where my history graham starts to grow to darken the meat and also outgrow Grab the white cider and go over here We're also my peaks will start to grow and the composition off the contrasts off the image looks way nicer right now. So this is about basic, as you know, here, brightening here darkening. And this is very simple way. How you can improve highlights how you can fix highlights and shadows. For those of you who are already in for the shop could say All right, But we can do the same thing with levels, and you will be absolutely right about about about this. Of course we can. We have the same history, Graham. We could do the same things with levels, including the colors and leave. ALS is some less complicated version, I would say, and these basic things you can do using these two adjustment layers. But in the next lesson, you will see the things that you cannot do with levels anymore. 4. Setting up Brightness and Contrast: we're still going toe steak toe rgb moan because this is the basic start, you'll have full life. And of course, soon we're going to move to Colors were going toe work with different modes just in the next section. So in the previous lesson, we learn how you can said the darkest point and the brightest point. But it's not real enough. What curves offer more than leave ALS. Because these things we could do with levels you see curves using curves you can actually said up the points on your curve line toe manipulate with shadows and highlights were flight and darks and anything. So let's have a look. I'm going to split this curve at first for how this is my meat point somewhere over here. And if I would like to manipulate not on Lee by the brightest areas, but with the darkest as well and the darkest. Of course, I would said the point here in the quarters and what it offers to me looking at this image I can see easily, and we're talking about this before that There is not that my darks, So just grab this point over here and go down a little bit. And how does it looks? Maybe, maybe even more, just for the purpose off the course. As you can see, I brought up some darks over here not for the darkest point, but summer over here to improve her. Her sweat sheared, Can we say like this? But I keep the lines over here the same because that strong. But if I'm going down with this, what is happening, as you can see on destroying the image because it's losing all of the contrast. So I would rather not do this and keep the lines as they are. So this is the huge advantage of curves that you can set up the point on your image on your curve to manipulate with lights and shadows. Energy be more because of color moments. You would be manipulating with colors, existence on the shadow areas or highlights, of course, and you can create as many points as you want. But from my experience, I don't really think I ever create more than three points on my curve because, as you can see, the more you're going to create them. The more complicated work you're going to do for yourself So this is not something I would advise you to do. Let's move toe another example with some different issues. Maybe. And of course, I'm going to rest artists to go down with your bones. Just grab this and go down to the bottom and you will go back to what I see right now. So we have a lot of dark pixels, but that they look quite all right and we just want toe bring maybe some some lights, but not for the highlights, because it looks quite all right here. But I would rather bring this area somewhere here, closer to meetings. I want toe. Just brighten this three over here and dogs I'm going to keep as they are similar. So let's have a look. As you can see, we just added some nice lives for the tree without doing too many stops found out in too many things. And it looks like month. But to remember the smallest things give the best results what? You have to be aware off working with curve, because you can go everywhere you want. But if you go up with your curls, it will look quite a right to the point when your curve line is going straight on the top or straight on the bottom as here. Then you know you blown up your image because if you go like here days, think over here with totally dark. So you lost already all of the details, as you can see from both sides. So remember that curve supposed toe have always its shape avoid the straight lines. This is a very important message, I believe. Um and also I know there's many people who are not beginners. So you know that. And let's move toe the last example where we have too strong highlights. And this image looks great when you paused it somewhere. But when you get the image straight out off the camera, this is not the highlights you would like to see. You cannot. This highlights. But this is not exactly what you would like to have. Maybe so I would just lower the darkness here, and I'm losing some contrasts over here. So I would bring some lines closer here to the meat point and maybe tried toe darken the shadows over here. So, as you can see, I darken the highlights and lost contrast So I brought up contrast by lowering this curve over here in the shadow area. So this is the more creative way off working with curve and this control you would not have working with levels. 5. Setting The Right Points on Curve: you could ask me a question. How do I know where I suppose to said the point on the curve And that would be absolutely right. Question. I know many beginners has travels with finding the right point on the curve. Maybe there is something that who could help you with that. So let's have a look on the left hand side in these our books and we have few eye droppers . They're quite useless. And yes, I know this is cruel, but I'm going to show you a quick example. How you says is that we have dark. I dropped her gray and white one. And basically, when you're going to choose that, you buy a black eye dropper, you're going to set the dark. The point you're going to choose become black. So the best way would be to find darkness point and you make in this back. For now, it looks still right. Eso it automatically said your colors as you can see your red, green and blue adjusting this color to become black. If I would choose wide eye dropper and go somewhere here, as you can see, it said in its on its on a swell and make days point totally white. And this doesn't really work so good, I believe for our images. So I would go just by I'm going to restart days. So how to set the right point? You see above that we have this little hand, so I'm going to choose that. And look what is happening on the kerf over here. I'm moving with these. I drove her over the image and we have this legal point moving on damage when I'm moving in the areas that are quite bright our point is moving somewhere here. If I would go into dark areas as you can see my point. The spot on the curves is rather over here in the shadows. So the easiest way for beginners would be you choose the dark spot first and setting up the shadows for the darkness. The contrast, of course. So I'm I'm grabbing this here and moving down to darken or moving up to brighten. And the great thing is with doing that way that our handed not changing position on the curve line. So I would darker here a little bit And what I would do next, I would find Ah, Brightpoint. Like this one over here. Grab it and go up. And this can give you relatively really good results. If you're banking there, If you see a certain area that you want to improve this word just perfect off course you can disquiet Mannelly. If something happened, I'm just going toe Restart this and of course you can. Also, by using these dropper set your points Mannelly summer and then just work out with them as you like. So and But in this case, you will be moving on your curve. Maybe sometimes, but it can give you really great results. So let's move to another example. Not so drastic, maybe. And I will do the same thing over here. I somewhere here is the dark spots. So I would make this slightly darker, maybe just going to grab this and move down a little bit. And here I see. Um, nice spot to pull it up and let's have a look. We we got really nice contrast before, after, and this world just were so if you are beginning, if you don't feel confident off set in your own poi point on the curve, that will be really good way to start with it, and I'm not saying really, it's just off for banking hours. But for everyone who feel comfortable with it, who see a special point that you want to darken or brighten, this is just a really good way to keep full control on your shadows and highlights. 6. Using Luminosity Blending Mode: slowly and in these first section something very important for you and maybe you not a stop when we work with curves. Let's have a look. Okay, We the first thing that we see we lost some contrast. We took down the highlights. But if you look very clear, we also change the colors of the image. And let's have a look for our two others example. Right now we brought up the contrast. But what happened? This image looks more saturated, every image. So how I resolve this issue and this is something that many people who start who are not very experienced don't do. And this can give you very bad results if you work with curves. But if you don't want with don't work with blending modes, you can really destroy your images. Sometimes you want to just pull up some contrast, but you ending up not only with contrast but with oversaturated image. And this is very simple way to resolve that. And we will be working with this all the time. You see here we have blending modes of blending most like normal. And then we have dark and in vending Martz bright and in lane branding months that the knowledge off each of them specifically is not really necessary. We have contrast ECB landing months and on the very bottom we have blending more luminosity . I'm going to hit that and beautiful thing happen because I'm going to go to normal right now. What happened here? This image was bright and saturated, so I took down my curve. So I lost some of the saturation. Then when I changed blended mud to suit the luminosity, I'm recovering. Actually, my saturation that I lost before, and because luminosity blending mode, it doesn't affect the colors but effects on the lights. And we're working on lines. We didn't want to work with colors right now and what will happen? You will see if I'm going to choose and the friend color mode right now I'm going to change to read just for example, quick example and I'm going to drag this down as you can see, the image supposed to change color. But the change on Lee right lights right now. So this is this is something really amazing And you can clearly now that luminosity blending month will give you in the future amazing ways off working with curves and also the other image. In this case, I pull up my curve over here and this become I feel a bit too saturated. So changing toe Blanding month luminosity. Yes, I lost on saturation and make the saturation value more similar to what it was before. So if you're working with curves, even simple things like working with contrast, just play with what works for it. As you can see, luminosity doesn't necessarily work for this image, because this image could look better when it a saturated sort off. But we would be getting to saturate it on the face. So like but on some for some images, it will be working in most of the cases. It won't be really working well, so this is quickly for you. Remember about the luminosity blending mart, and you will love this burning mode, and you will always work with curves and very often with luminosity blending job