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Dodging and burning in photoshop

This is a discussion on Dodging and burning in photoshop within the Photoshop - graphics programs - pluggins - for photography forums, part of the Education & Technical category; Dodging and burning (making parts of our images lighter or darker) is one of the keys to a great image. ...

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    Marko's Avatar
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    Default Dodging and burning in photoshop

    Dodging and burning (making parts of our images lighter or darker) is one of the keys to a great image. Personally I dodge and/or burn 99% of all my images. I used to do it in the darkroom and now i do it with Photoshop.

    Since there are many ways to do things in photshop, I'd LOVE to know other people's techniques.

    Although I dodge/burn in a few ways - this one is one of my favourite ways.

    I simply make a brand new layer and call it dodge - burn. To dodge (lighten) or burn (darken) I simply use a very soft brush (paintbrush) and set the blending mode to OVERLAY. I usually work with an opacity of 3-10%. When i want to darken something, the black and white squares in the main vertical palette have the black on top. When i want to lighten something, the black and white squares in the main vertical palette have the white on top. This technique works very well for me, and I know lots of photographers that use it. Of course you can also choose other colours (grey, pinks, blues) on specific areas as well.

    Ok - your turn... Got a good dodging and burning technique?

    Thx!

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    tegan is offline Senior Member
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    Using Viveza, it is simply clicking the area and then adjusting the sliders for brightness and/or contrast and then saving.

    With Photoshop it is the irregular trace of a selection, combined with a feather amount of about 28 or so, and then brighten or darken.

    With PaintShop Pro, it is choosing dodge or burn which automatically gives you a brush with adjustments along the top related to size and shape of brush, opacity, hardness, etc. I use the brush only in small areas.

    Tegan

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    Alex Wilson is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by marko
    I simply make a brand new layer and call it dodge - burn. To dodge (lighten) or burn (darken) I simply use a very soft brush (paintbrush) and set the blending mode to OVERLAY. I usually work with an opacity of 3-10%. When i want to darken something, the black and white squares in the main vertical palette have the black on top. When i want to lighten something, the black and white squares in the main vertical palette have the white on top. This technique works very well for me, and I know lots of photographers that use it. Of course you can also choose other colours (grey, pinks, blues) on specific areas as well.
    I dodge/burn most of images using a similar technique, although I use a blending mode of Soft Light on the layer. This has a couple of advantages: It's not as intense, so instead of painting black or white at 3%-10%, you can paint the same with 10%-20%, and go lower for more subtle effects. The bigger advantage is that it's doesn't shift colour as much as Overlay, so on colour images it's not nearly as obvious as Soft Light.

    Overlay I typically use only for images that I know are going to only be monochrome, and where I don't mind the dodging and burning also increasing the contrast.

    Both Overlay and and Soft Light do have limitations. If you are trying to lighten an area that is almost total black, or darken an area that is almost total white, neither of those modes will have much effect. In those cases I will use a layer with a Normal blending mode, paint with 1%-3% opacity, and then adjust the opacity of the layer to get the effect desired.

    Regardless of which method you like best, creating an action to make the layer, name it, and set the blending mode is a huge timesaver.
    Last edited by Alex Wilson; 04-20-2008 at 11:11 PM.

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    hey thanks for that Alex!

    I have to double check this though as now I'm not sure of something. I always thought that the blending modes in photoshop went from 'weakest' to strongist...where overlay ia weaker than softlight which is weaker than hard light etc. HMMM.
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    Alex Wilson is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by marko
    hey thanks for that Alex!

    I have to double check this though as now I'm not sure of something. I always thought that the blending modes in photoshop went from 'weakest' to strongist...where overlay ia weaker than softlight which is weaker than hard light etc. HMMM.
    Paint yourself a dodge/burn layer and try the different blending modes -- you should find Softlight the most subtle, then Overlay, then Hardlight the most extreme, I believe. Try it on a colour image and include some heavy lightening and darkening -- then watch for colour shifts as you switch between modes.

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    Marko's Avatar
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    Thanks Alex I will test that out soon.

    Like many people - I'm sort of an old school photographer and although I have used photoshop for a few years, there's always more to learn (and tutorials that are more accurate or less accurate ) or more efficient ways to do similar tasks.

    Thx!
    Marko
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