Jul 10, 2013

Make your Subject Stand Out In Photoshop With Curves Adjustment Layers

Make your Subject Stand Out In Photoshop With Curves Adjustment Layers

Using curves adjustment layers along with layer masks is a great way to draw the eye to a certain place. It may not look like anything crazy right off the bat, but if you check out the before & after below you’ll notice a huge difference. They best thing about this method is that it’s fairly easy.

To add brightness to our subject, we can start by adding a curves layer and pulling the midtones up. We don’t want it to look like this everywhere though, so by painting white on the layer mask over our subject we can get a natural looking light. The same goes for where we want the photo to be darker – drag the midtones down and paint white to darker certain areas of our image.

One more thing we can do with curves is exaggerate the sign’s green glow by pulling the greens up and masking it out everywhere except the area lit by the sign. This helps to add interest to the photo while bringing even more attention to Glenn.

Removing Distractions

It’s important to move distracting elements before doing any work with color and lighting. The light stand should be removed, so we’re going to use the clone stamp to get started. A hint when using the clone stamp – hold down shift to get a visible sample. This lets you line up where you’re stamping with where you’re sampling from, making it easier to get a seamless cover-up.

Now, even after clone stamping it the door still doesn’t look as smooth as we’d like it to. By using the brush tool with a low flow, we can paint over the door and make it look good as new. Just make sure to sample colors quite frequently from the surrounding areas, otherwise your painting will be blotchy and appear poorly done.

Combining Multiple Exposures

If you are interested in how to achieve the same result by combining multiple exposures, be sure to check out this episode which covers everything in depth.


user image You
(will not be published)

  • user image
    Ian Boys

    This was idea today as I was struggling with cloning out some electric poles/wires and the clone was looking messy. Brushed in at low flow after watching this and it’s fixed! Thanks.

  • user image

    Hm. I wonder what’s wrong with the healing brush tool… it already tries to blend in the colors. While it is a bit random at times, I think I can get good results pretty fast, especially if there is a texture that needs to be preserved. Still, mindblowing what you did there with the clone stamp and brush. I wouldn’t have expected it to turn out so well. Will surely come in handy sometimes. I especially loved that trick to boost the highlights…