photoshop creative

How can dodge and burn improve my photos?

Posted in:
Q&A, by Mark White
November 3, 2016

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The Dodge and Burn tools (O) are used to add light and shade to your pictures. They’re subtle brush-like tools that either increase or decrease the exposure wherever you apply them.

Where they can really be used creatively though is as a final overlay layer in your work. If you create a new layer with a neutral grey colour filled (#808080), set this layer to Overlay and dodge and burn here rather than just on the original layer, you can edit non-destructively. This makes it good for refining portraits delicately, but it’s also a useful tool for completing an ambitious composition.

With this particular picture, the Dodge and Burn tools are used to sculpt the shape of the deer, bring highlights to the eyes, face and back, and increase the contrast. You can create HDR images in this way, or tone down your Dodge and Burn layer’s opacity for a more subtle effect.