Curves are probably the most powerful image adjustment tool available
in Paint Shop Pro and they are also the least understood and most
The pre-set adjustments in Paint Shop do a good job of image
modification but if you want your prized images to look fabulous then
you need to understand how to work with curves.
Once you understand how the dialogue works you can make all manner of
really great adjustments to your images and you will probably forget
all about the Express Lab!
Then curves are the right platform for your journey into
creativity. And when you've seen what this page can do for
you, explore toning
where yet another aspect of curve adjustment is explored.
The Curve Dialogue
This is the Curves Adjustment Layer Dialogue in Paint Shop Pro X3 (it's
the same in other versions of the program but they are not quite as
pretty around the edges) ...
There is a
nice straight line that goes from the bottom left to the top right and
graphical representation of the full range of brightness from 0 (black
with no detail on the bottom left) to 255 (pure white with no detail on
the top right).
speaking, the bottom third of the line is the shadow detail (the red
portion of the line), the middle
third are the midtones (the green area of the line) and the top right
highlights (the blue portion of the line).
In addition - everything below the line is darker
than at the line and everything above the line is lighter.
Confusing? Just play with the curve and it will all become
So - if you move a spot on the line up then that area of brightness
will get lighter and if you move it down it will get darker.
Sample Curves Adjustments
is no change or modification when the curve dialogue is not adjusted.
The curve is at a nice uniform 45 degree angle.
typical "S" curve that lightens the highlights and darkens the shadows.
highlight part has been moved up slightly (into the lighter area) and
the shadow area has been moved down (into the darker area).
Contrast adjustment causes the image to look "flat and lifeless"
because the image lacks the discrimination between the tones.
highlight portion has been made darker by moving the curve down and the
shadow area has been lightened by moving the curve upward.
the early start adjustment the curve starts "before" the graph square
as shown - the shadows are lightened; the midtones lengthened; the
highlights are unchanged.
The tends to decrease the overall contrast because the slope of the
line is much flatter than normal.
the early finish adjustment the line hits the top of the graph square
before the RHS - shadows unchanged; midtones remain the same;
The adjustment increases contrast because the slope of the line is
shape of the curve is reversed - so dark becomes light; light becomes
dark; colours become their opposites on the colour wheel.
this adjustment the
shadows are reversed (dark become light), the mid tones are darkened
and the highlights stay pretty much the same.
curve maintains the shadow area, lightens the mid tones and darkens the
the dramatic solarisation curve the shadows are the right way round;
the midtones are reversed; the highlights are the right way round
increases the contrast of the image as the slopes are very
There is much distortion of the colours. The deepest shadows have their
contrast increased; the lightest midtones are reversed; the
darker midtones have their contrast increased; the brightest highlights
the image is a reversal in tone of pseudosolarisation.
Again it increases the contrast of the image as the slopes are very
steep. There is much distortion of the colours. The
deepest shadows are reversed; the lightest midtones have their contrast
increased; the darker midtones are reversed; the brightest
highlights have their contrast increased
effects here are really very exaggerated. Each of the tone
ranges can be considered as a solarisation on its own. This
produces greater colour distortion; there is more contrast in each
tonal range; the image begins to take on a line effect as specific
tones are highlighted or turned into shadow.
As you increase the number of points on the curve, the the greater the
line effect becomes
In terms on historical importance crossed
curves is a visit to the 70s and 80s when E6 and C41
processing became widespread across the manufacturers and
whilst Kodak was trying to perfect the colour print.
We liked the effect and then of course we processed E6 film in C41 and
the rest as they say is history.
The tutorial on Toning
Images also uses the curves adjustment technique with the
Red, Green and Blue channels.