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16 How-To Tips for Using Photoshop Camera Raw

#32 Using the Tone Curve

It is best to make initial tone adjustments in the Basic tab, and then switch to the Tone Curve tab to fine-tune your images. There are two methods of making tone curve adjustments: Parametric and Point. Each has its own tab within the Tone Curve tab. Both let you make changes to the tonal scale of an image. This tonal scale is displayed on the horizontal axis with the dark tones on the left and the bright tones on the right.

Parametric tone curve

The Parametric tab is divided into four quadrants: Highlights, Lights, Darks, or Shadows (Figure 32a). Use the sliders to increase or decrease the darkness or brightness of a particular quadrant. If you would like more specific control, the quadrants can be expanded or contracted by dragging the Region Divider controls along the horizontal axis of the graph.

Figure 32a

Figure 32a The tone curve in the Parametric tab.

Point tone curve

The Point tab is also divided into four quadrants (Figure 32b). However, the modifications are not confined to the quadrant. To make a modification, simply click and drag a point on the curve in the Point tab. Drag the point up to increase brightness. Drag the point down to decrease brightness.

Figure 32b

Figure 32b The tone curve in the Point tab.

The Point tab is supplied with presets, which you access via the Curve menu. Try the Medium Contrast (default setting), because it will increase contrast and color saturation.

8. #33 Adjusting Hue, Saturation, and Luminance | Next Section Previous Section