If you’re confused by curve and levels in Photoshop you need to watch this beginner’s guide
Two of the most commonly used adjustment layers within Photoshop are arguably the Curves and Levels adjustment layers. But if you’re new to Photoshop and you’ve never used them before, you might feel a little intimidated by them. Or perhaps you’re used to the basics of them, but don’t really understand their full power.
In this video, Aaron Nace at Phlearn walks us through the basics of how they work, the differences between the two, and how we can use them effectively in Photoshop to adjust the contrast, brightness or even colour of our photographs.
I tend to use curves far more than I do levels when I’m working in Photoshop as I tend to set my levels within Adobe Camera Raw, but there’s really no right or wrong for many tasks when it comes to choosing one over the other. For some tasks, such as setting the black & white levels, there are ways to achieve identical results in both.
Both adjustment layers will allow you to set the black and white points as well as the midpoint, and change each colour channel individually to add some colour toning effects. But where the two differ, and where Curves comes into its own, is that you can set multiple midpoints in between pure black and pure white to get very high levels of control. Especially once you start to make use of the layer masks.
But both adjustment layers are very easy to get to grips with and with a little practice, they’ll quickly become second nature.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.