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The blend modes in Photoshop offer incredible creative options for designers and photographers wanting to enhance images. In Photoshop Blend Mode Magic, Michael Ninness shows Photoshop users how to access and apply blend modes efficiently to achieve an aesthetic vision. He explains the building blocks of layer blending and demonstrates how blend modes can be used for color correction, sharpening, blending images together, adding dramatic glow, applying custom edge treatments, and many other creative effects. Michael also introduces advanced blending options for more experienced Photoshop users. Most of all, he demystifies this essential feature in plain, easy-to-understand terms and inspires photographers to use blend modes in ways they may have never considered before. Exercise files accompany the course.
This image gives me another opportunity to kind of show you the versatility of a Dodge & Burn layer and what it can be used for. So rather than Dodge and Burning a landscape or whatnot, we are going to use a Dodge & Burn layer to de-emphasis the deep wrinkles that are on these two people. So if I go to actual size here Command+ 1 or Ctrl+1, I'm going to just pan this around so I can see both sets of eyes here, and you can see there are some pretty deep wrinkles here. Now what is a wrinkle? In Photoshop's definition it doesn't actually know whether that's a wrinkle. It's just a bunch of dark pixels next to a light pixel.
So another way of saying it's an extreme edge that's an area of contrast. So if we can deemphasize the contrast here, if I can make the dark part of the wrinkle lighter and make the light part of a wrinkle darker, or in this case some shine here, then what I can do is draw attention away from the brightest and darkest parts of the image, and put the focus back on their eyes. So let's begin by creating a Dodge & Burn layer. To do that we are going to hold down the Option key or the Alt key and click the New Layer icon then we'll call this Dodge & Burn again. We'll set the layer to Overlay, which ignores 50% gray, so we'll go ahead and fill that layer with its neutral color.
50% gray, great. And now I'm going to switch to my Brush tool, type B on the keyboard for the Brush tool. I obviously need a much smaller brush. I'm going to use my Left Bracket key to make the brush much smaller. Great! Again I'm going to start with a very low opacity, maybe 20% so I just type a 2 for 20%, and if I want to lighten these shadows here, the wrinkles here at Etere's face on the left, I'm going to start with white. So X for exchange. If your default colors are not black and white right now just press the letter D to get them back so and then X to make white the foreground color.
And I'm just going to start painting very softly with a brush. We are just going to test our Opacity setting here, and I'm thinking it's a little bit too hot so I'm going to undo that, the initial stroke there, make it more like 10%, and we are just going to very carefully go in and lighten the shadow area. So that's going to take a few minutes to kind a work this area through, but we'll kind of come around the corner of the eye here, and we come on this individual wrinkle here. Now what we are trying to do is just lower that contrast, okay, and on these individual wrinkles here. Now I happen to be using a tablet, a Wacom tablet.
I find that very helpful, especially when you are doing a lot of painting, because its pressure-sensitive, and you can just press harder and softer to get a larger brush. Every once in a while, you are going to want to check your work and see the before and after, because sometimes it doesn't look like you have done much, because your eyes get accustomed to the area that you are looking at. So come over here and turn the layer off. There is before and there is after. You can see it's made quite a big difference already. So don't overdo it. Just every once in a while just turn that on or off, so you can check your work as you go.
So let's come over here and we'll continue to use white and we'll lighten these shadows here. Now you'll notice I'm not using the Healing Brush, right. I'm not looking for that big hammer. Etere is a good family friend and I happened to know how old he is. I'm not going to share that information with you. But my point is not to make him look like he is 19, all right? I'm not trying to get rid off these wrinkles. Those are his wrinkles. I'm just trying to deemphasize them a little bit so they don't dominate the photograph. Okay, and again come over here before, and after.
And you can see I'm getting a very nice lightening effect of those hard shadows underneath his eyes. If I want to take away some of the shine here, I'll press X for exchange and I'll switch to black. I'll use a much larger brush here. Again just stay with 10% and I'm going to very gently go over these hot spots or the shiny spots on his forehead here and maybe under his cheek there. And again it may not look like you are doing much. Let's go over here on the lip part.
And let's turn that on and off and back and forth and you can see the before and after. Now when you come over to Elena here, kind of a thing to remember is pay attention to your brush size a little bit. It's less of an issue if you are using a tablet because you can just press harder of softer to get a larger or smaller brush stroke. But if you are using a mouse, if you look at Etere, his wrinkles are quite a bit wider than Elena's and that's because they are quite a bit different in ages. The older you get, the longer your wrinkles get, and the thicker they get.
So as you are retouching people of different ages you kind of have to make sure that you don't paint the same sort of stroke widths across all the people equally. So I laid down a stroke here. I'm going to Undo, Command+Z. We are going to lighten these areas again around her eyes. So again I'm going to press X for exchange and have a white be my foreground color. I'm going to make the brush size just a little bit smaller, and I'll come in here and lighten these deep shadow areas in the wrinkles here. And again I'm just kind of go into the dark side of the wrinkle, just to lower the contrast of the dark part of it.
It doesn't take long and what's really nice about this technique is you really get to dial it in very specifically. So it's something that's a little bit hard to accomplish with just Curves or Levels alone. You end up having to paint the mask and you are doing the same thing. I just think it's more work to do it that way. So I really like the flexibility of Dodge & Burn layers. Okay, let's see our before and after, before and after. If I take a look at the layer by itself, let's turn off the background layer, you can really see the difference here right. Everywhere it's white I've lightened the image, everywhere it's dark I have darkened the image. And if you want to take this down a little bit so that's it not such a harsh transition, you can always blur this layer a little bit.
If I go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and just give it a slight maybe one pixel blur, just to soften those transitions maybe even take it up to 1.5. And that way you don't get any weird haloing effects. If you want, you may want to turn this Dodge & Burn layer into a Smart Object so you can adjust the blur after the fact. If you blurred it too much, you can always go back and just do a live edit of that as a smart filter, but I'll skip that for now, just kind of point that out. And there you have it. This is just another use of a Dodge & Burn layer to do specific retouching of portraits where you just don't want to deemphasize these harsh shadows and shiny spots to make a portrait look more in character with who the subjects actually are and to draw attention to their great attributes, to their eyes and their smiles.
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