CoffeeShop Editing 101: S-Curve Pop PS/PSE Action and UnWrapped Tutorial!

As you know I love Photoshop Elements. Most photographers don't need to invest in its big expensive sister Photoshop CS4 unless they have extra money burning a hole in their pocket or have to process a large amount of images professionally. But PSE unfortunately does have a few things missing that I love to use, such as Layer Masks (download my free PSE layer mask action HERE) and the original Photoshop Curves. However, you can still use PSE curves to get a nice "pop" in your images.

For example, you might have heard people talk about applying a small S-Curve adjustment layer to their image to give it a slight "pop", or contrast enhancement. You can see in the image below the settings for a slight S-Curve.

If you want a nice subtle contrast boost, this is a great setting. Photoshop users, add a Curves adjustment layer and make your RGB look similar to the one above. And even though PSE users can't access the real Photoshop Curves, you can use your version. Go to Enhance, Adjust color, Adjust color curves and make your curve look similar to the image above.

I have written an action that applies it on a copy of your image (Photoshop users can also use this) if you want to save some time. Just run the action and adjust the opacity of the S-Curve Pop layer to taste and flatten your image. I even added a layer mask on the S-Curve Pop layer (great for PSE users as you can't mask out your PSE curves because it is not an adjustment layer, unless you download my free layer mask action and make a duplicate of your image) so you can mask out the effect where needed (skin?) by using a soft low opacity black brush in the mask.

I love subtle ways to pop my color and B&W images, and using a simple S-Curve is one of the best I know.

Download the CoffeeShop S-Curve Pop PS/PSE Action HERE!

Want all of my favorite CoffeeShop Actions or Design Elements in one simple download AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures. For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


Tacey September 4, 2009 at 11:07 AM  

Hi Rita...I'm confused. I have curves available in PSE 7...? Are these different 'curves'?

Staci Brock September 4, 2009 at 1:07 PM  

Girl, you never cease to amaze me!!!

Catherine September 4, 2009 at 5:20 PM  

You are awesome! Thank you so much for simplifying my life!

Digi Free September 4, 2009 at 9:46 PM  

Thank you! Your blog post will be advertised on the DigiFree Digital Scrapbooking Freebie search engine today (look for timestamp: 04 Sep [LA 07:00pm, NY 09:00pm] - 05 Sep [UK 02:00am, OZ 12:00pm] ).

CreativeBusyHands-Scrapbook Freebies Search September 5, 2009 at 11:11 AM  

Thank you so much for this Freebie. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in Creative Busy Hands Scrapbook Freebies Search List, under the Page 7 post on Sep. 05, 2009. Thanks again.

Debbie September 5, 2009 at 12:12 PM  

Thanks Rita....I have read and heard a lot about S-Curves. I'm anxious to give this action a try.

Kim September 6, 2009 at 11:28 AM  

Thank you Rita. :0)

Melissa September 8, 2009 at 2:31 PM  

I LOVE your blog! Thanks for sharing so much info! I have a question about the Pop Curve. I followed the instructions to a T and the action is combining with one of the photo tints. What am I doing wrong? THanks!

Brittany September 14, 2009 at 2:42 PM  

I'm looking forward to using this action often!
Thank you. :)

Julia November 23, 2009 at 9:29 PM  

Hi! I downloaded this and it showed up in my Photo Effects, but when I try to run, it says it can't do it b/c it's not compatible w/ my version of PSE (I have PSE 7). then I get an error message about not enough RAM. ??? My computer has plenty! ideas? I'd love to use this action! :) thanks!!

Chrissy March 8, 2010 at 1:44 PM  

I am getting the same error as Julia about non compatible and not enough ram. Help please! I have PSE

Rita March 22, 2010 at 12:37 PM  

Thanks guys!

And if you are getting an error message, you aren't loading the proper files in your program! Click on my Action Install button on top of this blog. There are step-by-step loading instructions.

If you have PSE5, load the tiny .psd thumbnail and .atn action file. If you have PSE6 and up, load the tiny .png thumbnail and .atn action file.


Tora May 5, 2010 at 8:33 AM  

Thank you so much, this action is great:)

Monique August 16, 2010 at 12:16 AM  

I am new to photography and evn more so Actions, thank you for you brilliant instructions that even a novice like me can understand:) Its like the 'how to use actions for dummies' edition....Thanks heaps!!!

Anonymous December 29, 2010 at 11:14 AM  

thank to you. Good blog

Melissa Valliere November 2, 2012 at 12:44 AM  

I just discovered your blog and I'm HOOKED!!! Thank you (in advance) for all the hours of editing you're going to save me!! I'm looking forward to following your blog in the future!