My favourite tool in Photoshop because it’s so versatile! You can control any tones of light or dark, broadly or specifically. You can focus on just altering the highlights or altering the whole spectrum of light.
My favourite ways to use curves layers are:
- to create natural vignettes, drawing our viewer’s attention to the dog and guiding them through the image
- adding richness and depth to the colours
- to raise the blacks (make the blacks less black) in order to remove some contrast from the background of the image, helping the dog stand out
- to darken light parts of the image which may be distracting
- to lighten parts that need to be lightened (the dog) or to create the sense of natural light coming from somewhere (above, in front, or from a side)
- to add or remove contrast
- to contour the face (more on that here)
As I stress multiple times throughout the workshop, how, when, and why you use this tool is completely up to you and your style. I use quite a lot of curves layers, all of them doing specific things and gradually building up effects in a way I hope is a bit more subtle… but you can use them however suits you. You may like images with a lot more contrast, in which case, do that!
The main goals for me are:
- draw your viewer into the dog
- lead your viewer through the image in a way that helps them be “trapped” and/or return to the eyes. More on that here.
- remove distractions
- enhance the mood/story in the image, whether that’s keeping it feeling “light” or whether it’s making it darker and moodier
- keeping the light looking natural. Constantly asking: where would the light be hitting, what would be in shadow? And using curves layers accordingly.
As always, apologies for the quality of the recording. I think in future I’ll use the screen recording function on my computer, I’m just afraid it’s not going to cope (Photoshop is currently having a LOT of issues with me trying to edit AND screen record). I’ve spoken with Zoom about it this morning again so we’ll see how it goes next time. Next I’ll get onto Apple and see if they have a solution for it being ridiculously unusable when screen recording and editing.