I was recently hanging out in a forum where someone was asking how to make a Matte look on their images. Then when someone said that it is done with the Tone Curve, she was totally lost. And I know why! Because you have to make a small change to your Lightroom Tone Curve before it can be used like we use the Curves in Photoshop.
When you first install Lightroom, it opens to a default Tone Curve that looks like this:
Using the Curve this way is fine. It just doesn’t give you all the control! And I want CONTROL! And if you want to make artistic adjustments, you have to make a small change. Do you see that little box in the bottom right corner? Click that icon and your Tone Curve panel will change to this:
And guess what? This can be confusing too! Because if you start clicking on this it gets crazy fast! Here is the trick. You need to add points to your “Point Curve” before you start moving it. So click on the line in three places like this to get started:
Okay, NOW you are ready to make adjustments. This is where you could Google the Tone Curve for a very detailed description of what it does. But basically, moving the bottom point adjusts Shadows, center button adjusts Mid-Tones, and top button adjusts Highlights. Dragging upward reduces Contrast, and dragging downward increases Contrast. That is it in a nutshell. Slight changes make a big difference!
Now…I know I said to add 3 points to your curve, but you might notice that there were already two points hidden in the two corners. For an image with a Matte Finish, we adjust the bottom corner point. Here is how I do it: I click the point and drag LEFT out of the box. This will make your line straight. Then, I click on the Shadows point and move it around to find the exact Matte Effect I want. Below is what it looks like as I move it around the bottom corner. The first photo is before Matte. The second is the Matte Starter Preset. Then I drag the Shadow point around…dragging up creates Matte with Haze, dragging down creates Matte with Contrast.
And now…I will give you this Free Matte Preset which I believe is your starting point. You use the preset, then use the Shadow Point to adjust. Enjoy! Just click here to get the Free Lightroom Preset | Matte Starter!
Please note: There is usually a filename problem when LR Templates download to Macs. Please see the Installation page for the fix.
If you love presets, you might also want to take a look at this post for another free preset!
Magazine Model Inspired | Free Lightroom 5 Preset