Curves command thumbnail"Curves" is the most powerful adjustment command in Photoshop. Although its functionality and work principles are very similar to those of "Levels", this method lets us edit virtually any tonal range, or even adjust several different ranges in different ways.

Please note, though, that when unlocked in Photoshop Elements 6, this tool has 2 important restrictions - it only edits the current layer and the current color channel.

So, how to adjust the image tone:

  1. For a layered document, select the proper layer in the Layers palette.
  2. In the Effects panel, double-click the "Curves" thumnail.

    Tip. If the Shortcuts+ set is loaded, you can open the "Curves" dialog by pressing [Ctrl+M] keys.

    A dialog box will appear allowing you to adjust image tone by editing the graph. Generally speaking, the sharper your graph is the more contrasting the image will be.

  3. Very carefully pull some middle point of the graph to brighten or darken the image midtones.
  4. Pull the graph at some lower point rightward to decrease brightness in the darker areas (let's say, in "mid-shadows").
  5. Uplift the upper segment to brighten the "mid-highlights" (screenshot).
  6. To define tonal range more precisely, [Ctrl]-click a specific spot on the image. Then pull the graph at the added point to adjust the selected range.
NB Using the Curves for color adjustments is explained here.
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Curves dialog