The Curves Adjustment Layer is probably the most useful and flexible means of controlling highlights, shadows and all tonal and colour values through the use of Control Points. Using the Control Points and a Curves Adjustment Layer you can create a library of Curves Presets.
The WR Curves Collection 1 presets have been created to save you that work, though any may be modified to taste.
Loading a Curves preset is quite simple:
- Create a Curves Adjustment Layer (Yellow ‘dot’)
- Go to the top right hand drop-down (Blue ‘dot’)
- Select Load Curves Preset which launches the file manager.
- Go to the location of the presets and select one.
Loading them individually can be quite laborious ! Alternatively copy them into the Adobe Presets folder in your file system, for Win10, that’s typically C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop Version\Presets\Curves.
Once you have as many presets loaded as you want, then access them in a on-destructive method:
- Duplicate your background layer, either Layer>Duplicate Layer on the main menu, or use the shortcut Cntrl/Com + J.
- To maintain a non-destructive approach use Curves as an Adjustment Layer that way:
- You can change their Blend Mode or Opacity, the shape of the curves themselves, or even delete the entire Adjustment Layer itself.
- Step through the presets using the drop-down BELOW the Blue ‘dot’ and select one.
- Modify the effect by altering the Curve’s Layer Blend Mode (Red ‘dot’) and/or
Opacity (Green ‘dot’).
There are literally thousands of pages on the internet discussing Curves and as we avoid pointless repetition there are references at the end of the post to get you started, but the following is a quick summary of how to create your own preset:
- On launching a Curves Adjustment Layer, the image’s tonality is represented as a straight diagonal line on a graph.
- The key point to remember is that if you drag a control point below that diagonal line you will darken that tonal area; Drag it above and you’ll lighten it.
- You can then add control points to the line and as you move them, the shape of the curve changes, reflecting the changes to the image.
- Using the drop-down (Magenta ‘dot’) you can then access ‘curves’ for each of the RGB colours and as above, you can modify them by adding control points.
- You can view any change immediately as its’ impact will be directly visible on your image.
- Once you have finished adjusting the Curve and you would like to keep the effect as a preset, then go to the drop-down by the Blue ‘dot and select ‘Save Curves Preset’.
Adobe have a full section regarding Curves on their help site. Cambridge in Colour have a detailed written tutorial, as has photographylife. Photoshopcafe and Phlearn have good short videos. Of course that’s only a start !
If you have any actions, presets, tips, worked examples you would be happy to contribute and join others helping people get off to a good start with their photo processing, pay your knowledge forward !