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Adobe Photoshop: The Complete Guide Bootcamp

Lesson 35 of 118

Understanding Curves

Ben Willmore

Adobe Photoshop: The Complete Guide Bootcamp

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

35. Understanding Curves


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
2 Bridge vs. Lightroom Duration:06:39
3 Tour of Photoshop Interface Duration:18:21
4 Overview of Bridge Workspace Duration:07:42
9 Developing Raw Images Duration:30:33
11 How to Save Images Duration:03:37
12 Using the Transform Tool Duration:04:48
14 Selection Tools Duration:05:55
15 Combining Selection Tools Duration:07:37
17 Quick Mask Mode Duration:05:07
18 Select Menu Essentials Duration:21:28
20 Align Active Layers Duration:07:29
21 Creating a New Layer Duration:06:15
22 Creating a Clipping Mask Duration:03:02
23 Using Effects on Layers Duration:11:24
24 Using Adjustment Layers Duration:16:44
25 Using the Shape Tool Duration:04:39
30 Adding Texture to Images Duration:09:11
35 Understanding Curves Duration:06:18
36 Editing an Image Using Curves Duration:18:41
39 Editing with Blending Modes Duration:08:04
40 Color Theory Duration:05:59
41 Curves for Color Duration:16:52
42 Hue and Saturation Adjustments Duration:08:59
44 Match Colors Using Numbers Duration:16:59
45 Adjusting Skin Tones Duration:05:25
52 Clone Between Documents Duration:13:19
53 Crop Tool Duration:10:07
54 Frame Tool Duration:02:59
56 Paint Brush Tools Duration:13:33
57 History Brush Tool Duration:06:27
58 Eraser and Gradient Tools Duration:03:06
60 Blur and Shape Tools Duration:11:06
61 Dissolve Mode Duration:09:24
62 Multiply Mode Duration:15:29
63 Screen Mode Duration:14:08
64 Hard Light Mode Duration:14:54
66 Smart Filters Duration:11:32
67 High Pass Filter Duration:13:40
68 Blur Filter Duration:05:59
69 Filter Gallery Duration:07:42
70 Adaptive Wide Angle Filter Duration:04:43
71 Combing Filters and Features Duration:04:45
72 Select and Mask Duration:20:04
73 Manually Select and Mask Duration:08:08
74 Creating a Clean Background Duration:21:19
75 Changing the Background Duration:13:34
76 Smart Object Overview Duration:08:37
77 Nested Smart Objects Duration:09:55
78 Scale and Warp Smart Objects Duration:09:08
79 Replace Contents Duration:06:55
80 Raw Smart Objects Duration:10:20
83 Panoramas Duration:13:15
84 HDR Duration:11:20
85 Focus Stacking Duration:04:02
86 Time-lapse Duration:11:18
87 Light Painting Composite Duration:08:05
88 Remove Moire Patterns Duration:06:11
89 Remove Similar Objects At Once Duration:09:52
91 Replace a Repeating Pattern Duration:06:50
95 Warping Duration:11:03
96 Liquify Duration:14:02
97 Puppet Warp Duration:12:52
98 Displacement Map Duration:10:36
99 Polar Coordinates Duration:07:19
100 Organize Your Layers Duration:11:02
101 Layer Styles: Bevel and Emboss Duration:02:59
102 Layer Style: Knockout Deep Duration:12:34
103 Blending Options: Blend if Duration:13:18
105 Layer Comps Duration:08:30
106 Black-Only Shadows Duration:06:07
109 Create an Antique Color Action Duration:13:52
110 Create a Contour Map Action Duration:10:20
111 Faux Sunset Action Duration:07:20
112 Photo Credit Action Duration:05:54
113 Create Sharable Actions Duration:07:31
117 Scratch Disk Is Full Duration:06:02
118 Preview Thumbnail Duration:02:10

Lesson Info

Understanding Curves

So now let's move on and look at other adjustments that are much more powerful than levels. Levels is very useful, but I think there's something that could be dramatically more useful. And that is, as I work my way down this adjustment menu, I get beyond levels and I find curves. Curves is the ultimate tonal adjustments. You can do things that no other adjustment conduce. And in fact, the other adjustments we use thus far are actually using curves behind the scenes to do the work that they dio. And they're just trying to present you with a simpler screen, a simpler interface to interact with. But if you want full control, you want to use curves. Now. Curves is something that is not easy to learn on your own, but I'll get you toe, understand how it works, and it will take you practice before you are good with it. But the practice, I think, is worth it because you'll get ultimate control over your images. So in curves, let's see how this works Well, if you look at curves, it's a diagonal...

line going across a grid, and at the bottom is a Grady int that has all the brightness levels you could have in your picture. And in fact, most of the time this Grady it will be reversed where black will be on the left. It's only because I have a, um, a grayscale picture that it's reversed. If I take this image and converted Targhee be the vast majority of images we're gonna work on will be RGB in. Therefore, if I go into curves after that, now you see black is on the left. Whereas a moment ago it was reversed. Why is that? Well, when you're working with gray scale, it's thinking about Inc And when you're working in RGB is thinking about light. The two are opposite of each other. Ah, 100% light is the same as 0% Inc and therefore it flips it. It'll make sense in a few moments. So we have that Grady. And at the bottom, then the diagonal line is just telling you how much light would be used to create the shades you see down here. So to create black, this is all the way at the bottom because you would use no light whatsoever to create something this bright. If you go straight up. You'd use this much light compared to the amount you could use, which is all the way to the top. And as you work your way this way, you see the curve above that diagonal line that IHS gets higher and hired. Indicate you'd use mawr and mawr, inm or light. And once you get to white, the curve is all the way at the top because you've maxed it out. You can't get any brighter than white, so you can't go any higher than that, so this would be as high as you could possibly go. The way I think of it is, since it's talking about light, I think about a dimmer switch if you go to your kitchen and you find that one of your, uh lights is on a dimmer, and it's not the kind that's a knob. Instead, it's the kind you push up and down. It's just like curves. If you move that dimmer all the way to the bottom, it turns the lights off in the room is solid black. You can't see a thing and listers windows. Then, as you move the slider up, you add more light into gets brighter. And once you max out, that slider is high as it can go, it's not possible to make the room any brighter without adding some other light source in. In the case of Photoshopped, the brightest we can get is white, so we'll get it all. The way to the top is white, so just think of it as picking one of these shades and then going straight up until you hit the diagonal line, and that tells you how far up the dimmer switch would be. You're not as high as he could possibly go because it's not white. You're not having lights turned off your somewhere in between. All right, then what can I do with this? Well, you can move your mouse on your image. And if you click this little hand icon that's in the lower left, then that means that if I move my mouse over my image, it should think about curbs. And so when I go over my image, you'll see a circle and curbs in. The only thing that circle is doing is it's telling me how much light is in the various areas. I put my mouse on top of. So if you're to go straight down from wherever that circle is appearing and you look at that bar that spans the bottom, it would be sitting directly above the exact shade my mouse is on. So it's just telling me how much light is in each area. Well, this doesn't sound too exciting yet. What if I want to make two of these bars exactly the same brightness level, but I want to leave all the other bars alone. I can do that if I want to take this bar and I want to take this bar, get them to be the exact same brightness level. I could do it very quickly and easily and curves, and then I can take the other bars and get them back, but where they used to be, This is close to that if you know what you're doing, and I haven't described enough yet for you to know what you're doing. But let me turn preview off years before here's after. Do you see those two bars that became identical? It looks like the brightest part of the image is getting a little too Ah, dark. So I have toe adjust that, too. But let's then say instead, I want to do the opposite. I want just those two bars to look more dramatically different from each other than they used to. Well, let's start over here and I want to make this bar brighter. Gotta turn on this little hand, make this bar brighter, make this bar darker. There is a greater difference between the two. I can easily do that. Then I want the other bars to go a little bit back to where they were. Not exactly, but closer. I have control over that kind of stuff, and I have none of that control. When I'm in levels or brightness and contrast, I can't click on my picture and say, Think about this brightness level and do something specific on Lee that brightness level

Class Description

All individual classes that make up this bootcamp are also available here for individual purchase.


  • Develop an understanding of how Photoshop works
  • Create your ideal workspace
  • Configure the essential preference settings
  • Set up Adobe Bridge and Lightroom for optimal integration with Photoshop
  • Navigate multiple images seamlessly


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Ben takes you step-by-step through Adobe Photoshop 2020 as only he can. With an easy pace and zero technobabble, he demystifies this powerful program and makes you feel confident enough to create anything. This class is part of a fully-updated bundle – complete with 2020 features and more efficient ways to maximize the tools everyone uses most.

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  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Those who want to gain confidence in Adobe Photoshop and learn new features to help edit photos.
  • Students who’d like to take ordinary images and make them look extraordinary with some image editing or Photoshop fixes.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (V21)


Noel Ice

I am an avid reader of photoshop books, and an avid watcher of photoshop tutorials. I have attended (internet) several hundred of presentations. In the course of this endeavor, I have found my own favorite photoshop websites and instructors. Creative Live is probably the bargain out there as well as among the top three internet course sites. I have to say with great enthusiasm that the best Photoshop instructor is Ben Willmore. There are many great ones, but truly, he is the best I have come across, and, as indicated above, I have watched literally 100s of tutorials on Photoshop. I have seen all of Ben's courses, I think, and among them, this one is the best by far, and that is saying a lot, because that makes this course the best course on Photoshop to be found anywhere. I am going back and watching it twice. Not only is it comprehensive, but Ben is so familiar with his subject that he is able to explain it like no other. This is crème de la crème of Photoshop classes. I have been wanting to write this review for some time because I have been so thoroughly impressed with everything about this class!

a Creativelive Student

Wow. I cannot communicate the value of this course!! The true value in this course is how the instructor identifies workflows you'll need before you'll ever realize it, repeats important information without it becoming annoying, and explains the "why" behind the techniques so well that even if you forget the exact method, you can figure it out via the principles learned. Excellent value, excellent material, excellent instructor!!!


The short lessons makes it easy to find things. Clear explanations, structured content, great examples, handbook plus practice images - this class is worth x10 the price! I have seen many of Ben's classes and I'm so happy you created this one, love it