BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Ben F
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/30/2004

Dodge and Burn in Photoshop

Hey all,
I have been experimenting with Photoshop and I've discovered what seems to be a god-send: the dodge and burn tools. I've tried it with darkening up a sky, but am having a little problem with getting it even ... it tends to get a bit patchy. I'm wondering if anyone has any tips/tricks to getting even coverage using these tools. Thanks in advance!

To love this question, log in above
8/10/2006 11:22:07 PM

Michael H. Cothran   The dodging and burning tools are best for small, local areas. For large expanses, such as a sky, introduce yourself to the gradient tool.

To love this comment, log in above
8/11/2006 5:17:16 AM

Jane M
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/30/2005
  An alternative is to use the overlay method of dodging and burning, because it's reversible and more controllable - less patchy. Add a new layer, set the blend mode to "overlay" and fill with 50% gray (from the edit drop down menu). Then paint with a low opacity brush on the overlay layer. White dodges and black burns. Not quite the same as you can't easily work on just the highlights, shadows or midtones, but it is often quicker and is great for larger areas where you want to be consistent.

To love this comment, log in above
8/11/2006 6:14:06 AM

Ben F
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/30/2004
  Thanks for your replies!!

AHAH, the gradiant tool.... very good indeed. Took me a while, but I eventually figured out that I had to lassoo the area in which to use the gradiant, and its kind of difficult to get the line right, especially when theres mountains etc etc in the foreground... so when you miss a tiny bit it sticks out big time... rubber stamp job maybe??

Michael, would it be best to use the gradiant in the same manner that jane suggested with the dodge and burn tools?.. ie making a new layer and working on that, then blending in ??


To love this comment, log in above
8/11/2006 7:33:08 AM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/6/2004
  Are you darkening the entire sky?

If so, consider getting a circular polorizer; you'll save yourself loads of time in PS and the sky will look much much much better. I don't have to mess with my skies anymore.

Just an idea. I know it is a bit too late for the pictures you have already taken.

To love this comment, log in above
8/11/2006 4:11:04 PM

Steve Mescha
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/22/2002
  I have one more way of getting dodge and burn effects which works well in many situations. First do whatever overall adjustments to the image and set the history brush to that point in the history pallette. Select the history brush and set it to multiply at low opacity to get a burn effect, or screen to get a dodge effect. At a low opacity you will be able to build up the effect by repeating brush strokes as many times as nesessary. The trouble I find with the dodge and burn tools is that the effect continues to intesify as long as you hover over a spot on the image. The color saturation also seems to change. This soes not happen with the history brush.

To love this comment, log in above
8/15/2006 5:43:33 AM

Fritz Geil   If you want complete control and reversibility, then do it the way I do. I copy the background layer twice, then turn off the visibility on the second layer. Change the blend mode on the first copy to multiply, add a layer mask, then "paint" in the areas you want burned with a low opacity on the brush so that you can build up the area gradually (This also works well for creating shadows). Then make the top layer active, turn on the visibility, and change the blend mode to screen, add a layer mask, and paint in the areas you want dodged. This method will allow infinite control and is non destructive, so you can go back and change the effects as you see fit.

To love this comment, log in above
8/15/2006 9:54:16 AM

Steve Mescha
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/22/2002
  You're right, Fritz. Your method is a more elaborate and better controlled version of my method with the same final result. It sounds like we agree that multiply and screen are a good alternative to burn and dodge!

To love this comment, log in above
8/15/2006 11:37:46 AM

Ken Henry   All good answers, but can be a bit slow.
Maybe the following complicated procedure is slow but when I have to edit 10 photos this can be quick. So here is my step-by-step.....
1. I use the magic wand tool throughout the sky with the shift key depressed and set the tolerance at 10 for fine edging along buildings and solid objects and change to 20-30 to grab the sky thru trees and other objects.
2. I make two duplicate layers. One layer for sky, then right click and 'Select Inverse', and make one layer for landscape. On the sky layer I delete the landscape and vice versa for landscape layer.
3. In the sky layer I select Adjust Hue/Saturation and saturate only the Master setting as this uses ALL the pixels so there is no seperation between different shades of pixels. No blotching.
4. Then I go to Cyan and may need to edge the Hue bar towards blue if needed.
5. Do I need more blue? Now I go to Color Variations and add blue to my liking.
6. Darker Sky? I like using the Brightness/Contrast adjustment. The Sky stays brilliant.
6a. Does the sky have a small amount of blotchiness seperation between lighter and darker pixels? I use the Output Bar adjustment in levels....very carefully slide in the ends until you see a blend as much as possible. The Gaussien Blur will finish it up.
7. Smooth sky? I use the Gaussien Blur, about 8-12 adjustment, don't over do-it.
8. I save as SKY.
9. Now I work in the Lanscape layer using curves,levels,contrast, editing details etc.
10. Next I save as layers.
11. Now I sharpen only the landscape layer. Then Flatten the layers and I save the final as 'title'FE-USM(final edit, unsharp mask). Do I keep the SKY?
And ALL of my exterior photos I use a polorizer filter.
Well anyway, Ken

To love this comment, log in above
8/24/2006 11:08:53 PM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.