Monday, June 10

CoffeeShop Lightroom Tutorial and Bonus Preset! Contrast Boost with S-Curve

I ran a poll on my Facebook page to see how many of my readers were using Photoshop, PSE, and/or Lightroom.  I had not realized that so many of you are LR users.  I am sure many of you are like me, combining LR and Photoshop/PSE for the most creative power.

I love Lightroom 4 and use it all of the time for basic adjustments.  LR5 is now available, but you can use LR4 presets in LR5, so I don't see any reason to upgrade at this point. Right now LR4 is almost $50 cheaper than LR5.  I haven't spent much time actually playing with LR4 because the beautiful presets from Pretty Presets have made me lazy...  

Well, that is all going to change.  I am working through relearning the program (my brain is stuck on LR2) and I want to share any editing tips/tricks I pick up with you by posting tutorials (and sometimes bonus presets so you can see the exact settings I used in the tutorial).  And don't worry Photoshop/PSE users, I will still be posting just as much for you, just adding more LR tutorials to the mix.

Today I want to show you how to do a basic contrast boost with an S-Curve using Tone Curve.  I always do this in Photoshop and finally figured out how use the similar Curves setting in LR. There is a bonus preset you can download at the bottom of this post.

I am going to show you how to create the Matte Effect in my next LR tutorial.

Here is my image.  I opened it in LR4.

Go over to the Develop mode and find Tone Curve.  It will probably look like this (sliders on the bottom to change Highlights, Lights, etc.).  Click on the bottom right button to turn it into a Curves similar to what you are used to in Photoshop.

Now this is something I recognize.  Make sure Channel is set to RGB (you can also adjust red, blue, and green to add color tints to your images just like you can in Photoshop by clicking on the RBG pull-down menubar).

The easiest way to do a simple custom contrast boost using Tone Curve is to click on the middle of the curve to leave a point.  This will allow you to adjust the highlights and shadows without changing the midtones.  NOTE:  If you add an unintended point on your curve, simply left click on it and drag it off the curve.

To add the contrast boost, click on the middle of the top of the curve and gently drag it up and to the left to brighten the highlights.  Click on the middle of the bottom of the curve and gently drag it down and to the right to darken the darks.  Now you have a simple S-Curve adjustment!

I created a LR4 RAW preset to share with you.  It is such a simple edit you really don't need a preset, but sometimes it is nice to have the work done for you.

My next Lightroom tutorial will show you how I do a simple Matte Effect.

Download the free CoffeeShop LR4 S-Curve Preset.  You can also download it here.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop Actions or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file 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. 


  1. Thank you!!! I will try this out!!

  2. I will try this out for me. Thanks a lot for sharing with us !!

  3. Thanks for the quick tut. Looking forward to future tutorials from you on LR. I am new to the program and really want to learn it. Also hope Adobe doesn't send it to the cloud too!

  4. Will this work for Lightroom 3, too. I got LR3 right before LR4 came out but haven't spent the time to really figure it out. I just switched to PSE 11 from PSE 9. My brain is on overload learning something new. lol...Thank you for all your tutorials and actions, they help.

  5. can this preset work for jpeg images as well?

  6. I am learning LR4 still and am wondering what the difference is between using the tone curve and the contrast slider? That is something I've always wondered....maybe there are infinitely more possibilities with the curve. Thanks for the tutorial for LR, keep them coming!


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