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In this chapter we are going to take a look at the subject of focusing on the subject within an image and painters have learned to do this through a variety of techniques over time. But even as a photographic image, you can start to do some things before you start painting in order to help the image have more focus on it. In my workshops, I often describe it to students as the actors on a stage. You've got to constantly think about through the process of creating an interpreted photo into a painting, who is the star of the show, who is the actor on the stage.
In this image it's pretty clear that it's this little bench or swing that's hanging down from the tree. There is all this lovely scenery to provide an environment for it, but ultimately that's the star of the show. I shot it so that it's in a darker background. There is a lot of contrast there, so it is one of the brightest things on the image. But I want to do some things to tone down all of this visual noise basically that is going to be distracting the viewer's eye away from the star of my show. And just like a Broadway play, lighting plays a great deal of role in how you do that.
So, I'm going to use Painter's Dodging and Burn brushes to accomplish this. The Burn brush is the brush that makes it darker. So, when you use the Burn tool, which is right here, this is what's going to darken the image. The Dodge tool on the other hand is going to lighten the image. Now, before I get started, I want to do this mostly for demonstration purposes, but I want to have the ability to see the original image and our affected image, right A/B comparison to one another. To do that, I'm going to make a layer that contains this image.
That way, we'll be able to shut it on and off and be able to see the changes that we are making. So to do that, I'm going to do a Command+ A or Ctrl+A for select all and then I'm going to do Command+C or Ctrl+C to copy, and then finally I'm going to do Command+V or Ctrl+V to paste. If we look over in our Layers palette, you will see, I now have an exact copy of my canvas. So that's a real quick way to just make a layer and this way I'll be able to turn this on and off, once I have started changing it.
So let's go up to the Dodge and Burn tool, and I'm going to grab the Burn tool in this case. Now, I'm going to begin to apply the Dodge tool here and you can see what's happening is I'm starting to darken the surrounding areas, the areas that would be that dim down stage, so that my actor on the other hand is going to shine here. So, we are just darkening this up. And I may do this a little bit exaggerated to show you this. It probably wouldn't be necessarily as dark as I'm making it, but I want to get the point across.
Now, I'm going to switch to the Dodge tool and this is going to let me just brighten this area up and you want to be careful, because you don't want to blow out highlights or anything, but just want to get enough of here, of this on the image, so that I can now turn this on and off. And see what a difference that makes. Everything is still there and yet it's much more focused on the image. Now there is a bunch of other things I could do. Like when I Dodge and Burn, it tends to add Saturation for example, to the outlined parts of the image, and I may want to do away with some of that, through painting, for example.
This technique of dodging and burning is almost always something I employ prior to bringing an image into my painting. That way, I don't have to think so much about who is the actor on the stage. I've already fought that through in the photographic side of things and by applying photographic tools like Dodge and Burn at that early stage, I can ensure that I've already done some things on the way to finishing my image, so that the star of my show literally has top billing. So, knowing and using the Painter's bag of tricks for focusing on the subject will go a long way towards successfully interpreting your photograph into a painted result.
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