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Photoshop is the world’s most powerful image editor, and it’s arguably the most complex, as well. Fortunately, nobody knows the program like award-winning book and video author Deke McClelland. Join Deke as he explores such indispensable Photoshop features as resolution, cropping, color correction, retouching, and layers. Gain expertise with real-world projects that make sense. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, we're going to use the Dodge tool to lighten some of the darkest details inside of this rather dark portrait shot in the first place. So I'm going to drop down here to the Dodge tool and click on it in order to make it active. It's the tool that looks like a little paddle or lollipop. And notice if you start painting in the image, you will brighten that portion of the image. So here I am painting underneath the eye. Now that's a lot of lightning for my taste. In other words, we're brightening the photograph more than I think we should in a single brushstroke and that it has to do with some settings that are available to you up here in the Options Bar.
So I want to give you a sense of what's going on. First of all you can brighten one of three Ranges that is the Midtones which are those middle colors that we've discussed a couple of chapters ago, the Shadows which are darkest colors in the image, and the Highlights which are the lightest colors. Now it's very unlikely you're going to want to brighten the Highlights inside of the image using the Dodge tool. That would indicate that your entire image is too dark and you need to enhance it using Brightness/Contrast or Levels and Curves as we'll learn in the future chapter. Although, I will say dodging highlights is useful for masking which is something we'll learn later as well.
More likely you're going to want to stick with Midtones that are the default setting or dig into those Shadows, but when you're brightening Shadows, you really need to be careful and take it easy. Anyway, I'm going to leave that set to Midtones for now because I want you to know that there is a keyboard shortcut for these guys and that's Shift+Alt on the PC or Shift+Option on the Mac along with the first letter in Shadows, Midtones or Highlights, so Shift+Alt+M for Midtones for example, Shift+Alt+S for Shadows. But hey! That just didn't work.
The reason that didn't work here in the PC is for a couple of reasons. First of all, we've got the Alt keys, so I'd like to bring up the menu, so you have to watch that, but even more to the point, we've got this option right here that's highlighted. So notice that all the menus have these little underscores that are showing you that if you press a key you're going to bring up a menu. Then we've got this sticky option up here next to the word Range. This is specifically Windows issue, it does not occur on the Mac. If you run into this and your keyboard shortcuts deliver completely unexpected results or refuse to work, it's because something is stuck and what you need to do is press the Esc key and if that's not enough, you may have to press the Esc key more than once.
So I had to press the Esc key once to unstick the word Midtones, and a second time to unstick the menu so the underscores went away. Now I'll press Shift+Alt+S or Shift+ Option+S on the Mac to switch to Shadows, Shift+Alt+H or Shift+Option+H on the Mac to switch to Highlights and Shift+Alt+M or Shift+Option+M on the Mac to switch to Midtones. Next, you have this Exposure option and notice if I really crank it up to 100% then I'm going to do a lot of brightening very quickly. You can see as I'm doing it what I was talking about with the Dodge tool adding saturation as a rule of thumb, particularly when you're working on Midtones, but not only that, we've gone way too far in a single brushstroke.
So it's really easy to be impatient with the Dodge and Burn tools and try to get too much work done too quickly, but if you go that route, you're less likely to get credible modifications. So I suggest that you work slowly and patiently. Anyway I'm going to undo that brushstroke by pressing Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac. I want to show you that you can change that Exposure value on-the-fly from the keyboard by pressing a number key. So for example, 1 gets you 10%, 2 gets you 20% and 3, 30%, all the way up to zero for 100%, and if you want to dial in a specific value, you can press two keys, like 78 gets me 78%.
Anyway, I'm going to press 3 for 30% and paint around the eyes here in order to try to lighten up a few details and I just painted five brushstrokes by the way and one went all the way around the eye, but the other guys were very short little brushstrokes inside some of these crevices here. Now I'm going to paint a few short brushstrokes around these areas as well. Possibly increase the size of the brush by pressing right bracket key a couple of times so then painting under the nose. I'll decrease the size of the brush by pressing the left bracket key and paint over the mouse and so on.
Now another thing that I want you to notice about this tool, I'll right click with it in order to bring up this popup panel. Notice that the Hardness is set to 0% by default. That's where you want to leave it. It's rare that you want to work with any Hardness value other than 0% and that may sound like strange advice. If I press the Esc key to hide that panel for a moment, I'll increase the size of my brush fairly dramatically and press the 5 key to change the Exposure value to 50% and paint over that ear and into the jaw and notice that I've painted a halo into the background at which point you might say well, there's an example of a situation where it would have been a better idea to paint with a hard brush instead of a soft brush so you can stay inside of that ear.
Had I done that, however, I'll go ahead and right click to bring up this panel and change the Hardness to 100% and now I'll show you what it looks like if you paint with a hard brush. It looks terrible. You can see the edges of your brushstroke even if you're lowering the Exposure value to 10%, it's very easy to see those edges. So I recommend you avoid that. So what is the solution where this halo is concerned? Well, first thing I'm going to do is right- click and reduce that hardness back to 0%. Press the Enter key a couple of times to hide that panel. Return on the Mac.
What you do is you erase. You go back here to your History Brush which you get by pressing the Y key incidentally for the last letter in history and then if you bring up the History panel, you'll note that flipped original is set to my source state for my history painting. So I'm in good shape. I'm ready to paint. Then I would reduce the size of this brush, there is also a soft brush by default, and you can change that if you want to but I'm going to keep it soft, reduce the size of the brush and then paint over the area that you want to restore like so.
So that tends to be the better way to go. Just keep that History Brush handy so that you can always revert your modifications on-the-fly. All right, let's go back to the Dodge tool, there might be other things that we want to do with it. In fact at this point, I think I'm going to switch over to Shadows by pressing Shift+Alt+S or Shift+Option+S on the Mac and I'm definitely going to take that Exposure value down. Notice that it's at 50% right now, I'm going to change it to 20% by pressing the 2 key, reduce the size of my brush and paint up here on the side of the forehead. Now notice that I'm reducing the saturation in this area.
So you just have to be prepared to go both directions. We'll come back with the Sponge tool in order to restore or quell the saturation inside this image. Also bear in mind that I've got all this yellowness going on, so I'm going to have to fix that too. I'll paint here in these little jowl areas, not to get rid of them but just to basically draw some attention away from them and then I'm going to increase the size of the brush and paint underneath my chin just a little bit, I might add couple of brushstrokes to the jaw lines.
I could come back into the ear. I actually think that's fine, but I am going to paint under the eyes and more inside of some of these dark areas like so and then I'm going to paint over the eyes in order to brighten them a little and I am going too far. I should acknowledge that that I'm starting to look a little crazed at this point from all of the dodging that I'm doing, but I tend to work that way. I tend to push it a little bit too far and then draw things back using either the History Brush or some combination of other controls as we'll see.
This is good for now, good as things get insofar as a portrait of me as concerned. I'll go ahead and press the F12 key in order to revert the image. So we can see this is what it originally looked like. This is how it looks now when I press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z, thanks to the lightning power of the Dodge tool here inside Photoshop.
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