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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.
In this image the background could use a little bit of darkening, bring out some contrast there. It's pretty typical in landscape photography for the distance to be a little bit faded, and lacking contrast where the foreground has most of the contrast. Now some of you may have used the Dodge & Burn tools. Nothing wrong with those tools. They have actually gotten better in CS4. But I actually find using a Dodge & Burn layer to be much more flexible and faster, even faster than using my curves or levels and having to mask things off as adjustment layers and whatnot.
So a Dodge & Burn layer, what is a Dodge & Burn layer? Well, a Dodge & Burn layer is nothing more than a layer filled with gray set to Overlay. Now if you remember the make better key is the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key in Windows. If you click the New Layer icon without the modifier key down, you just a get a new layer Layer 1. Okay I'm going to undo that. If you hold down the Option key or the Alt key and click, you get a chance to name the layer. So I'm going to call this Dodge & Burn. But you also get a chance to choose a blend mode for the layer. So we'll choose Overlay and then you can fill that new layer you are creating with the color that is neutral to that blend mode, meaning the color it ignores.
So Overlay ignores gray. So I'm going to turn that on. Click OK. And now I have a Dodge & Burn layer waiting for me to use. If I turn the background layer off, you will see that indeed there is a layer filled with 50% gray, but when it's being composited down and it's set to Overlay of course, the gray pixels are ignored. So now I'll get my Brush tool, B for the Brush tool, pick a nice big soft brush here. Maybe start with a medium Opacity maybe 30% or 40% just by pressing the number 3 of 4. And now anywhere I paint with black, I'm going to be darkening the image or burning it. Anywhere I paint with white I'm going to be lightening the image or dodging it.
So it's pretty easy to start doing this now. You just reset your colors back to Black & White D for Black & White, turn out that way already, and then you just lower the Opacity by typing a number and then you just start painting. So I'm darkening the sky. So I'm going to paint with 30% black and I'm just brushing real big soft brush strokes here, kind of filling the background area, and as I go across you should see the contrast of the water and the mountains getting improved and seeing some more details, just kind of taking that background haze of the image here. Come back over here on the mountains, and real simple, nice big soft strokes and nothing too complicated here.
Okay. So I'll just stop for a second and let's go take a look at this Dodge & Burn layer now. Now if I turn the bottom layer off, you will see anywhere it's 50% gray nothing happens. Anywhere it's darker than 50% gray the underlying image is going to get darker. So let's switch our colors X for exchange, do exchange of our foreground and background colors, and I'm just going to go across the foreground a little bit, with white now, I think this is too fast, so I'm going to Undo that Command+Z, Ctrl+Z. I am going to lower my Opacity. Right now its 30%. I'm going to make it 10% by just pressing the number 1, and I'm just going to very gently come in on some of the darker parts of the foreground here and just going to go again kind of come in with a nice big fat strokes here, with my big brush, set to a low Opacity.
And again let's take a look at the before and after. Here is before and there is after. You should see a pretty big shift happening now, and if I turn the bottom layer off again, again anything that's 50% gray, no change anything that's lighter than 50% gray, the underlying image is going to get lighter, anything that's darker than 50% gray the underlying image is going to get darker. So it's a very versatile, if you burn too much of an area here come back in multiple strokes here and now this is getting too hot. Just press X to exchange and paint back with the other color to darken that back up again.
So it's non-destructive, it's on its own layer, you can go back and change it anytime, very flexible, trick here. I'm going to go burn this little bit up. That's the wrong color. So I'm going to undo it. X for exchange again. I'm just going to take off a little bit of haze here. A little bit more in the mountains, just kind of bring out some more contrast in that portion of the image. So there you have it. That's using a Dodge & Burn layer and again that's just a layer filled with gray set to Overlay, then just paint with different percentages of white and black and you've got your custom way to Dodge & Burn an image.
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