Photoshop Top 40
Illustration by John Hersey

26. Dodge and Burn


Photoshop Top 40

with Deke McClelland

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Video: 26. Dodge and Burn

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature 26 comprises the Dodge and Burn tools. This is the Dodge tool and it looks like a little paddle, at least that's what it's supposed to be. If you click and hold on it, then you'll see this hand and that's the Burn tool. These tools together allow you to modify luminance inside of an image by painting directly in the image. So when you paint with a Dodge tool, you're painting in brightness and when you paint with the Burn tool, you're painting in darkness.
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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop Top 40
7h 13m Intermediate Dec 21, 2009

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There's nothing people love more than lists, and Photoshop Top 40 offers a great one, highlighting the best features in Photoshop. Deke McClelland counts down to #1, detailing one great feature after another in this popular digital imaging application. The videos cover tools, commands, and concepts, emphasizing what's really important in Photoshop.

Topics include:
  • Assembling multiple pieces of artwork with layer comps
  • Creating a black-and-white image from a color photograph
  • Merging multiple channels to create an alpha channel with calculations
  • Selecting images with the Pen tool
  • Masking images using the Brush tool
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

26. Dodge and Burn

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature 26 comprises the Dodge and Burn tools. This is the Dodge tool and it looks like a little paddle, at least that's what it's supposed to be. If you click and hold on it, then you'll see this hand and that's the Burn tool. These tools together allow you to modify luminance inside of an image by painting directly in the image. So when you paint with a Dodge tool, you're painting in brightness and when you paint with the Burn tool, you're painting in darkness.

You can remember the difference if you like with this simple analogy. This is old school for me. I have been using this analogy for years. The idea is when you burn a piece of toast, you darken it. So the Burn tool is going to darken things. If you just remember toast and burn you will be fine. Dodge is the other thing. You can't dodge a piece of toast. But if you could, you would lighten it, don't you know? The great thing about these tools is they allow you without any fussing, you don't have to create adjustments layers and masks them and that kind of thing, you just paint directly inside the image and you either brighten up the shadows using the Dodge tool or you darken up overly enthusiastic highlights using the Burn tool, and that allows you to bring out all kinds of information, especially in portrait shots.

It can be very useful. For example, imagine what the Dodge tool you could paint under someone's brow if there is some shading inside the eyes and you could brighten up the eyes quite easily. Now, these tools have been significantly enhanced inside Photoshop CS4. So if you are working inside of CS3 and earlier, you're working with lesser tools, so much so that even though the Dodge and Burn tools were essential way back when as well, I'm not sure that I would have included among the Top 40 list. The enhancements are what really make them sing, and we'll see what that looks like inside of this video.

Now I am going to this photograph, which comes from bargain image vendor Fotolia. I am going to take this image and make it more brooding. So we already have this Intense young dude, hence the name of the image. However, I want you darken up some the shadow detail, I want to brighten up some of the highlights, I want to create this really high contrast image that has all kinds of drama going on. So we are going to create a moody scene here, and we are going to start things off with the Dodge tool. So I will go ahead and select the Dodge tool from the flyout menu, and then I will press the right-bracket key in order to increase the size my brush.

Now before I start painting, because I'm going to be invoking pixel level modifications. I am actually applying so-called destructive modifications to my image. So before I do that, always a good idea to go ahead and protect the original version of your image by creating a copy of that background layer. And I am going to do that by clicking our background. You can see we have a few other layers that are turned off. They will be turned on before this movie is over with. But I will go ahead and click on that background layer and I will press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac in order to jump that layer and name it incidentally.

So I will go ahead and call this something like luminance variation let's say. Then I will click OK in order to create the new layer, there it is. So the original is protected. I also want to be able to be go back and paint with the History Brush. So anytime that you're making pixel level modifications to an image, anytime you are using this middle group of tools right here, the painting and editing tools, you want to be able to erase your changes using the History Brush. It's just a great flexible feature inside of Photoshop. The way you do that, in our case, by the way, we have just created a new layer that History would not otherwise be aware of at this point in time.

So we need to make the History palette aware of the state by going up to the Window menu and choosing a History command. That will bring up this History palette, and then I am going to create a new snapshot by going over to the flyout menu icon, clicking on it and choosing the New Snapshot command. Then I will go ahead and called this snapshot Original, because it represents the original unmodified version of the image. Then I'm going to switch this option here from Full Document to Current Layer, so that we're just tracking this layer and nothing else, using this New Snapshot. I will click OK in order to make the snapshot, there it is, and then I will click in front of it to make it the new history source state.

That way when I paint with a History Brush later, you'll see we will go and paint back to this state. Very important stuff, just a good practice, a good habit. All right, I am going to go ahead and close the History palette and then I am going to paint inside the image. Notice that I am dramatically brightening up the right-hand side of the image. Now if you're painting inside of Photoshop CS3 or earlier, you are going to see kind of a chalky effect by comparison to what we have here. That's a function of this new Protect Tones checkbox. When it's turned on in CS4 and later you're getting better performance out of the tools.

So leave it on, don't go turning it off, unless you want to see how things used to work inside of CS3 and earlier. Now the Exposure value is pretty high by default. It's 50%. If you're noticing your changes are just way over-the-top, then go and reduce that value. For example, I could press the 2 key to lower that value to 20%, or the 5 key to restore it to 50% and so on. You can even press two keys in succession if you want to. All right, now I am going to switch over. We get a sense of what's going on with Dodge there. Actually, you know what, I am going to brighten his eye a little bit like so, so that we have a couple of bright eyes going on.

I'd tell you the two things I use the Dodge tool for, over and over again, almost without thinking is to brighten up eyes and to brighten up teeth, works beautifully for both. All right, now I am going to switch over to the Burn tool here, and I am going to go ahead and darken some of the details, because as I was saying we want sort of a moody sinister look out of this guy. So I press the right-bracket key a few times to make the brush bigger, and I am going to paint across the forehead a little bit, paint down here around the nose. Now, you may feel like you're getting somewhat muted or muddy results out of the Burn tool, and if you end up seeing that kind of muted, muddy, murky stuff going on, note that you also have available to you the Sponge tool.

And a Sponge tool, which works pretty nicely with the Dodge and Burn tools, doesn't really merit inclusion on the Top 40 list, but I will mention it here. The Sponge tool, what it allows you to do, it's a great support tool. You can either desaturate colors. So if the colors get too highly saturated as a result of using the Dodge tool typically in CS4 or if they get under- saturated as a result of using the Burn tool typically in CS4, then you can either desaturate in the former case or saturate in the latter case.

So you can switch whether you are adding or depleting saturation from the image. So that's just something to bear in mind. Now, what I prefer to do though with the Burn tool is notice if I paint over this eye region, because I do want this eye to look very much shaded. But if I paint over it, I'm painting not only the skin tones around the eye, but I'm also painting in the eye. And I just got done dodging, and so why would I want to turn around and then burn that eye as well. So make it brighter and then make it darker and then make it brighter again. That's hopeless, right. We are going to end up destroying our detail over time.

So I will go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that modification, and instead I'm to switch my Range from Midtones, and Midtones by the way are the middle luminance levels. So they are neither the Highlights, which are the brightest colors in the image, nor are they the Shadows, which are the darkest colors. They are those luminance levels in between. The grays, don't you know, and all the medium colors, they are Midtones. So normally that's what you want to do. You want to work on your Midtones. But every so often, you want to switch your Range. In my case, I am going to switch over to Shadows so that I am protecting the Highlights.

So I will switch to Shadows and now I will paint over his eye, and notice as I'm painting over it, even though I am making a complete mess out of his skin tones, I am protecting that information inside of the eye. Well, that's too much. So Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. Let's press the 2 key in my case, to reduce the Exposure value to 20% and then I will try painting over this region again. That's much better. I will press the left-bracket key in order to reduce the size of my brush a little bit there. Now that's over-the-top once again. So let's try an Exposure value of 10% by pressing the 1 key.

Now, I do want it to go fairly over-the-top. I just don't want to go too far over the top. Let's go ahead and brush in some more right there, and I am making him way too dark over here on the left side of the face. That's okay, we will come back and we'll fix that in just a moment. But I'm going to paint down the forehead a little. Let's go ahead and paint over here on this brow as well. As we do, when you're burning shadows, you may end up increasing the saturation, so you might have to follow it up with that Sponge tool set to the Desaturate mode. So that might be something you have to do, might not, you never know.

Anyway, I am going to switch the Range back to Midtones now in order to darken up the right side of the face. Also, by the way, I am going to increase the Exposure value to 30% by pressing the 3 key there. Now, I will just paint, paint, paint away. Sometimes you want to scrub at the area, sometimes you just want to click in order to add just a little bit of darkness here and there. If you go too far, don't worry about it, you can always pull back using the History Brush as I will show you in just a moment. All right. So this looks pretty darn good so far I think. Let's go ahead and paint in some bounce light and I will do that using the History Brush.

So this is the History Brush right there. Now the History Brush goes ahead and paints from that history state, that source state that you defined here inside the History palette which will be that original snapshot right there. The beauty of working with the Snapshot as opposed to some other state inside the images is that it doesn't roll off so that snapshot stays there throughout the length of your sessions, so long as the image is open. Anyway, I will go ahead and close the History palette. I am going to make my brush bigger. Make sure that it's nice and blurry all the time when you are working with the Dodge tool, the Burn tool, the Sponge tool for that matter, and the History Brush, nine times out of ten you want your brush to be nice and soft.

So you want a Hardness value of 0%. That's what you have by default incidentally. All right, now I will paint along the side and notice how that goes ahead and opens up those shadows. It gives us a little bit of bounce light, which is always a wonderful thing. I might also want to add a little bit of additional light here and there by backing off still more from my shadows. But if I am going to do, I want to take down my opacity value. Right now it's 100%. Let's press the 3 key to reduce the opacity to 30%, and then I will paint like so around certain details here and there just to add a little bit of bounce light in different locations.

I might paint back some of the highlights inside of his face. Then I might go back with the Dodge tool. Now you have to be careful by way of a little bit of an FYI. You want to be careful about dodging and then burning and then dodging and then burning that same exact area over and over again. However, inside of CS4 you have a lot more latitude, because your tones are protected, meaning the essential color values and much of the luminance information as well. Because that is protected, you have a lot more flexibility. So you can go in there and paint fairly freely, but you still do want to be a little bit careful.

The more you paint over the same area with Dodge and Burn and then Dodge and so on, the more damage you are going to potentially do to your image. And I do want to emphasize the word potentially, because people talk about destructive edits all the time, but frequently they just mean potentially destructive edits. In other words, even though you are changing pixels, the end result looks better. That's what it's all about. You have got to get in there and change pixel sometimes. So I am painting all over the place here as you can see me doing. I might as well paint inside the eye a little more as well. I reduced the Exposure value to 30% while you weren't looking.

All right, of course, my goodness, he has got highlight in his hair, we have got to increase the highlight of the highlights there just a little bit. We might want to add a little bit of burning up at top on his forehead. So I will go ahead and grab that Burn tool once again and just paint over the top of the forehead a little bit. This is what we've got so far. He looks pretty darn striking, pretty darn moody. But you know what, I'm not sure this is enough. I ended up going at this image quite a bit in order to get this result right here. So I have done some work in advance.

I have been playing around with this image for a while now. So here's my D&B Final layer, and this is the effect I ended up creating. Now it seems a bit over-the-top, especially where the saturation values are concerned. We have a lot of intensely saturated colors going on in his brow here, and in his forehead and if that bothers you, you can just go ahead grab that Sponge tool, make sure that it's set to Desaturate. You might want to Flow value down, I will take it down to 30% by pressing 3 key and then I will go ahead and paint inside of these regions to reduce the saturation a little bit, to just rein it in ever so slightly. You know what? You know why I am not seeing the results people? How tragic is that? Let's go to the History palette.

I will go ahead and bring it up and get rid of all my sponging, because I wasn't applying any of my sponging to the proper layer. I am working on a layer I can't even see. I want to switch to D&B Final right there, and now let's paint on it, and we should see some changes happen right away. And yes indeed we do. All right then, here is some other stuff that I have done to this image. I went ahead and added a B&W layer. We saw that back in feature 36. And I went ahead and added a little bit of colorization as well using this B&W layer.

You may recall the Tint option that's available to us there. Then I added some redness to his eyes with a little bounce lighting in his eyebrows right there. Then finally, I added some Lens Flares. The Lens Flare effect which is a filter under the Filter menu incidentally. That is the final version of the image. Just to give you a sense of how far we've come, here is the original version as it appeared when we first opened the image at the outset of this exercise. Interesting, but not nearly so dramatic as this one right here. Here is a vampire, good looking one too.

How romantic is that? Thanks to the power of the new and improved Dodge and Burn tools feature 26 here inside Photoshop.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop Top 40 .

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Q: Is there a way to batch convert an entire folder of photos from the RBG color mode to the CMYK color mode without having to open and convert each individual image?
A: In the Actions panel in Photoshop, create an action that converts an image from RGB to CMYK. Then link to that action from File > Automate > Batch inside Photoshop.
Next, in the Bridge, select a folder of images. Choose Tools > Photoshop > Batch. Select the action inside the ensuing dialog box.
Or, in Photoshop, select File > Automate > Batch, and select the action and the folder inside the dialog box.
See also: Photoshop CS2 Actions & Automation, Chapter 2 “Action Essentials.”
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