How to Increase Contrast in Photoshop (4 Different Ways)

how to increase contrast in photoshop

How to Increase Contrast in Photoshop

If you want to add contrast to an image in Photoshop, there are several ways you can do so, and in this tutorial we will show you all 4 different methods.

Let's start with the quickest and easiest method:

Photoshop Actions

1. Increasing Contrast Using a Brightness & Contrast Layer

The quickest way to adjust the contrast is to create a new Brightness/Contrast layer in your Layers Adjustment panel:

how to adjust brightness and contrast in photoshop

Here, you can quickly increase/decrease the contrast by moving the slider to the right/left:

photoshop brightness contrast shortcut

This is one of the fastest and most straightforward ways to adjust the contrast, but let's look at some of the more fine-tuned approaches which will give you a more natural contrast adjustment.

2. Increasing Contrast Using a Solid Black Fill Layer

Create a new Fill Layer by selecting Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color:

what is brightness and contrast in photoshop

Press OK - we will change the Mode and Opacity in just a moment:

contrast tool photoshop

Select black:

how to change contrast in photoshop

Next, set the Blending Mode in your Layers panel to Soft Light, and reduce the Opacity - anywhere between 5%-20% should work nicely:

photoshop contrast

You may also want to try setting your Blending Mode to Overlay, too, as it will add even more contrast than Soft Light.  Which mode you use will vary from image to image and how much contrast you would like to add.

3. Increasing Contrast Using a Curves Adjustment Layer

Add a Curves adjustment layer:

edit contrast in photoshop

In the RGB channel, apply an S-curve to the histogram by moving the points on the curve into an S shape:

increase brightness photoshop

S-curves add contrast to your image by increasing the highlights and decreasing the shadows on the histogram.  Play around with different size S curves to see how the contrast changes.

4. Increasing Contrast Using a Levels Adjustment

A quick adjustment to the highlights and shadows in your levels panel will give you a subtle boost to contrast.

Create a Levels Adjustment Layer:

how to change the contrast in photoshop

Below is an example of the Levels panel before and after I made adjustments to the Shadows and Highlights regions.  As you can see below, I pulled in both sliders towards the center.  The key is to bring them in to just inside where the histogram begins:

how to add contrast in photoshop

If you are more of a visual learner, please watch out Photoshop Contrast video tutorial below:

How to Increase Contrast in Photoshop - Video Tutorial


If you're looking for Photoshop actions to boost contrast, be sure to check out the Pure Color Workflow and the Luxe Newborn Collection, both of which include great contrast boosting actions!

Do you have any questions or comments about How to Increase Contrast in Photoshop?  Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE our tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

Portrait Photoshop Actions