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Digital Darkroom : Curves by photo-class Digital Darkroom : Curves by photo-class

Hello fellow readers,

Today's tutorial has been designed and written by :iconpecchio: with a couple additions and the traditional ~photo-class layout from ~roy204.

It is an introduction to the concept and usage of the "Curves" tool in Adobe® Photoshop® and other popular image editing picks. We hope you find this useful, it is mostly for beginners although you may always find out things you didn't know... ;)

As always let us know what you think, and feel free to add any comments on the content, add your own tips or correct any mistake or misconception you spot.

Have fun!
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Daily Deviation

Given 2006-03-16
Digital Darkroom : Curves written by =pecchio [posted by *photo-class] is an excellent tutorial to the Curves tool, one of the most important tools (yet one of the most difficult, as well) for editing photos. ( Suggested by diamondie and Featured by bleedsopretty )
xgnyc Featured By Owner May 5, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you so much for taking the time to create this very wonderful and useful tutorial! :clap: :thumbsup:
xxxshadowedsoulxxx Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2009   Digital Artist
thanks!! i didnt think i could understand that mystical thing called curves in ps unless i reached enlightenment.:)and yet you made it seem simple!!
piathesurrealist Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2009   Photographer
This is very helpful. :D I've been looking for a tutorial on curves that would be easy to understand. I've been searching the internet and they're all just hard to understand. :D Thanks for posting this one. Great help. xD Heheh. I like how you cut it in three parts. That made me understand it better since I could associate the mid tones, bright, shadows, with the levels tool. :)

Thanks again for the awesome tutorial. :hug:
Neo-Br Featured By Owner May 15, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wonderful tutorial!

very useful!! tks!!
Daggertooth Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2007
I never knew Photoshop could do this. Thanks.

I have been recently manipulating my photos with curves, though before now I didn't know they were called curves. I've been using a program that came with my camera. There I get to manipulate the Red, Green, Blue, and RGB curves. I move the Red, green, blue up and the RGB in the oposite direction so I get both the bottom two of the three major curves you show in your tutorial. Seems to make the colors brighter in a desired way without doing much else. What exactly am I doing?


mygzus Featured By Owner May 28, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
The yearbook staff that I'm on right now could really benefit from using this for some of our pictures!
cleanshvr Featured By Owner May 22, 2007  Hobbyist Photographer
Fantastic tutorial, I can't thank you enough! I've certainly played with Curves before, but have never used nor understood anchor points! This is extremely helpful for me, using dramtic lighting in my nudes!
cblue Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2006  Hobbyist Photographer
This was really helpful, and easy to follow :clap:
MyDigitalSin Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2006
Thanks, that helped a lot!
xupisco Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006  Hobbyist General Artist
Cool, there was a day that i was going to try that tool to see what was its use...
Then I got my image all ugly xD
And since then I've never used it again huahua...

But now i'll try it again \o/
I've favorited it, but not here in DA, i've favorited in my browser! =)

Thanks, and congrats for a job very well done!
pirate-soul Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006
Awesome! Now I know what that think is for!
umboody Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006
Very nice indeed. Really given me the confidence to go and play around with the tool, and it's really useful. Thanks for sharing!
deadduckjohn Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006   Photographer

cool idea.
peitxon Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006  Hobbyist Photographer
Shame on DA... took a year to recognise the work from photoclass group
zaziedslemetro Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006
oh! thanks.
a lot :)
i'm looking at it ... right now
Doubtful-Della Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006  Professional Photographer
Thanks! It worked just how I suspected from playing with it all these years
Fiachara Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006
Very useful, thanks for covering this.
riddlen Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006
great tut
Ratas Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006
Nothing new to me really, but a good tutorial anyway. Indeed, one of the most important tools.
Rheality Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006
i :heart: you. i've been wondering how that reaaaaly worked for aaaaages. ;)
sagirl Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006   Interface Designer
have read through the article, is really nice
haven't used that tool before, but i will deffinately practice:) thanx:D
Arnitald Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006
Ok my juice for the tutorial:

Alt+click the grid, it will get finer. Better for precise adjustments.

Use the pencil mode for drawing curves by hand. It helps at experimenting with different values.

Otherwise quite solid.
monkstar Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006   Photographer
looking back at this, now i've realized that this really is a very brief intro to curves
but its still nice anyways.
Plornt Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2006
Heh, i like that
sidetracked Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2005  Hobbyist Photographer
Fantastico! :+fav:

As always, *photo-class RULES and is the BEST and keep up the GREAT WORK!
xta Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2005
Thank you for the very informative tutorial.
Rachabelle Featured By Owner May 27, 2005  Hobbyist Photographer
This tutorial helped me very much.. Thankyou! I really didn't know you had to separate the line to use it properly.. I kept wondering what everyone was talking about when they said S-Curve.. Helped me a lot.
Malesherbez Featured By Owner May 11, 2005
Thank you very much, your systematic way is much better than the haphazard way I use Curves.
Ratafluke Featured By Owner May 7, 2005
I've seen that graph in the GIMP before and couldn't use it because I had no clue what it was good for - so thanks for this tutorial!
BTW: The --> Farben (=Colors) --> Kurven (=Curves) is in the Bild (=Image) menu of my version of GIMP.... don't know if that's a mistake in the tutorial or maybe just a matter of different versions. (I have 1.2.5 in German)
Shamas Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2005   Photographer
This article is magnificent. I've never known exactly what the curves tool was supposed to do, but now I do! I'll try using this on my photos~

peppersnaps Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2005
Wow, thanks so much, this is great! I never really knew how to use the curves tool properly -- it will be fun to try it out! :)
glowing Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2005  Hobbyist Photographer
I was finally able to take the time to open this and skim through it! Can't wait to try it out and put it to use! :clap:
Thimy Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2005   Photographer
Sympathique cet article, toujours aussi clair ;)
LadyMorella Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2005
Wow. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have noticed playing around with psp8 that curves helps my images but because I had no clue what it was doing, I really didn't understand it. Now after reading this and play with it for 2secs I realize I can improve my pictures greatly. :D
aja2 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2005
awesome work, as usual :)
niimo Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2005  Hobbyist Photographer
Taking a look at this now, I like the fact that this is very basic and just gives an idea of what the curve can be used for. It shows a glimpse of the potential, and maybe enough to wet a persons tongue to find out more on their own. I don't think it shows the full potential of it, but I understand that it's not necessary in a introductory tutorial like this. Though this makes me think there will be a follow up more in-depth tutorial? :)

The layout also is great, I never noticed the little number circles on the other tutorials, whether they are new or not, I especially like having that, I often struggle to follow these kind of things.

Excellent work to both *pecchio and * roy204
arphire Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2005
Great, very enlightening - I'll have to try to use curves on py pictures :)
Theres a few spelling mistakes at the start, if that counts...
CH3-CO-O-CH3 Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2005
shrugz! to imagen i would ever understand such thing!

thanxxxxxxxxxxxxx :worship:
sykil Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2005
Nice tutorial, and it pleases me that you've included a small bit on other software--I thought that was really considerate of you.
dc-10 Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2005
A clear and helpful tutorial. I remember when I was starting out curves scared the hell out of me but now I can't even imagine going back to Levels.

Just a small tip for those with the screen real-estate, hitting the enlarger button on the lower left corner of the window will give you a bigger graph and it's surprisingly easier for me to fine tune it how I want. Also for the extremely picky among us you can move a selected anchor point with your arrow keys. It took me an embarrassingly long time for me to figure out these little things.

This is a great beginners tutorial though, you guys are a real asset to the community.
phoenix07 Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2005  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well done. A great read for all.
SGResu Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2005
Another great and useful tutorial!

Thank you so much!
blueseas Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2005
:worship: I am so happy to see this. The curves tool made no sense to me.
blackzer0 Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2005
The Curves dialog ahs always been a mystery to me. This will help, I'm sure! thanks! :)
locuststar Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2005   Photographer
really useful and interesing :)
Littleterror88 Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2005
most intersting... thank you =D
DaniMyrick Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2005  Student Digital Artist
Very helpful :) Thank you! :rose:
subman Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2005   Photographer
excellent tut, thanx for sharing
madvax Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2005   Photographer
The _Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements_ book provides some Photoshop functionnalities to Elements, including curves. You can get some free tools for Element 1 & 2 at [link] and ciick on "Free Tools". Not available for Element 3 though.
You can also use blends to get some of the curve's effects: have a look at [link] in chapter "Dodging & Burning" / "Intro to Blends".
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Submitted on
March 3, 2005
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