Skip to main content

Adobe Photoshop: The Complete Guide Bootcamp

Lesson 35 of 118

Understanding Curves

Ben Willmore

Adobe Photoshop: The Complete Guide Bootcamp

Ben Willmore

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

35. Understanding Curves


Class Trailer
1 Introduction To Adobe Photoshop 04:05 2 Bridge vs. Lightroom 06:39 3 Tour of Photoshop Interface 18:21 4 Overview of Bridge Workspace 07:42 5 Overview of Lightroom Workspace 11:21 6 Lightroom Preferences - Saving Documents 08:19 7 How To Use Camera Raw in Adobe Photoshop 2020 05:10 8 Overview of Basic Adjustment Sliders 13:09
9 Developing Raw Images 30:33 10 Editing with the Effects and HLS Tabs 09:12 11 How to Save Images 03:37 12 Using the Transform Tool 04:48 13 Making Selections in Adobe Photoshop 2020 06:03 14 Selection Tools 05:55 15 Combining Selection Tools 07:37 16 Using Automated Selection Tools 17:34 17 Quick Mask Mode 05:07 18 Select Menu Essentials 21:28 19 Using Layers in Adobe Photoshop 2020 13:00 20 Align Active Layers 07:29 21 Creating a New Layer 06:15 22 Creating a Clipping Mask 03:02 23 Using Effects on Layers 11:24 24 Using Adjustment Layers 16:44 25 Using the Shape Tool 04:39 26 Create a Layer Mask Using the Selection Tool 04:39 27 Masking Multiple Images Together 15:15 28 Using Layer Masks to Remove People 10:50 29 Using Layer Masks to Replace Sky 10:04 30 Adding Texture to Images 09:11 31 Layering to Create Realistic Depth 05:35 32 Adjustment Layers in Adobe Photoshop 2020 05:29 33 Optimizing Grayscale with Levels 10:59 34 Adjusting Levels with a Histogram 03:37 35 Understanding Curves 06:18 36 Editing an Image Using Curves 18:41 37 Editing with Shadows/Highlights Adjustment 07:19 38 Dodge and Burn Using Quick Mask Mode 07:14 39 Editing with Blending Modes 08:04 40 Color Theory 05:59 41 Curves for Color 16:52 42 Hue and Saturation Adjustments 08:59 43 Isolating Colors Using Hue/Saturation Adjustment 13:33 44 Match Colors Using Numbers 16:59 45 Adjusting Skin Tones 05:25 46 Retouching Essentials In Adobe Camera Raw 10:52 47 Retouching with the Spot Healing Brush 07:53 48 Retouching with the Clone Stamp 06:51 49 Retouching with the Healing Brush 04:34 50 Retouching Using Multiple Retouching Tools 13:07 51 Extending an Edge with Content Aware 03:42 52 Clone Between Documents 13:19 53 Crop Tool 10:07 54 Frame Tool 02:59 55 Eye Dropper and Color Sampler Tools 08:14 56 Paint Brush Tools 13:33 57 History Brush Tool 06:27 58 Eraser and Gradient Tools 03:06 59 Brush Flow and Opacity Settings 04:17 60 Blur and Shape Tools 11:06 61 Dissolve Mode 09:24 62 Multiply Mode 15:29 63 Screen Mode 14:08 64 Hard Light Mode 14:54 65 Hue, Saturation, and Color Modes 11:31 66 Smart Filters 11:32 67 High Pass Filter 13:40 68 Blur Filter 05:59 69 Filter Gallery 07:42 70 Adaptive Wide Angle Filter 04:43 71 Combing Filters and Features 04:45 72 Select and Mask 20:04 73 Manually Select and Mask 08:08 74 Creating a Clean Background 21:19 75 Changing the Background 13:34 76 Smart Object Overview 08:37 77 Nested Smart Objects 09:55 78 Scale and Warp Smart Objects 09:08 79 Replace Contents 06:55 80 Raw Smart Objects 10:20 81 Multiple Instances of a Smart Object 12:59 82 Creating a Mockup Using Smart Objects 05:42 83 Panoramas 13:15 84 HDR 11:20 85 Focus Stacking 04:02 86 Time-lapse 11:18 87 Light Painting Composite 08:05 88 Remove Moire Patterns 06:11 89 Remove Similar Objects At Once 09:52 90 Remove Objects Across an Entire Image 05:46 91 Replace a Repeating Pattern 06:50 92 Clone from Multiple Areas Using the Clone Source Panel 10:27 93 Remove an Object with a Complex Background 07:49 94 Frequency Separation to Remove Staining and Blemishes 12:27 95 Warping 11:03 96 Liquify 14:02 97 Puppet Warp 12:52 98 Displacement Map 10:36 99 Polar Coordinates 07:19 100 Organize Your Layers 11:02 101 Layer Styles: Bevel and Emboss 02:59 102 Layer Style: Knockout Deep 12:34 103 Blending Options: Blend if 13:18 104 Blending Options: Colorize Black and White Image 06:27 105 Layer Comps 08:30 106 Black-Only Shadows 06:07 107 Create a Content Aware Fill Action 08:46 108 Create a Desaturate Edges Action 07:42 109 Create an Antique Color Action 13:52 110 Create a Contour Map Action 10:20 111 Faux Sunset Action 07:20 112 Photo Credit Action 05:54 113 Create Sharable Actions 07:31 114 Common Troubleshooting Issues Part 1 10:23 115 Common Troubleshooting Issues Part 2 07:57 116 Image Compatibility with Lightroom 03:29 117 Scratch Disk Is Full 06:02 118 Preview Thumbnail 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


Adobe® Photoshop® 2020 is a feature-rich creative force, perfect for turning raw ideas into audience-wowing images. With Ben Willmore as your guide, you can master it faster than you think and take on a new decade of projects.

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.

Whether you’re a 20-year designer or you’re opening the app for the first time, this is the perfect way to learn and love using Photoshop. From retouching to masking to troubleshooting, Ben unpacks all the essentials and hidden gems, while giving you real-world examples to drive each lesson home. By the end of the class, you’ll feel eager to make serious magic with Photoshop 2020.


  • 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