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- Using adjustment layers in a non-destructive image-editing workflow
- Correcting color with curves
- Adjusting brightness and contrast with levels
- Dodging and burning photographs
- Reading histograms accurately
- Converting color images to grayscale with a Black & White adjustment layer
- Customizing auto-corrections for more accurate quick adjustments
Skill Level Intermediate
Unfortunately Photoshop's official Dodge and Burn tools, which are used to darken and lighten local areas of a photograph, are not nondestructive as you learned in the last movie. If you are looking for a way to dodge and burn while preserving your original photo and while offering you the ability to reedit your dodge and burn marks. You'll probably prefer the method I'm going to show you in this movie. It makes use of the magic of blend modes to dodge and burn on a special neutral layer. The first step in this technique is to make a new layer that's going to hold all your dodge and burn marks, so that you're not painting directly on the image, and this is what makes the technique nondestructive.
To make that kind of a layer, I'm going to go down to the bottom of the Layers panel, to the Create New Layer icon there, I'm going to hold down Option on a Mac, the Alt key on a PC and click on that icon to open the New Layer dialog box. In this box I'll give this layer a name. I'll call it my dodge burn layer. This is the important part. I'm going to change the blend mode of this layer from Normal down to either Overlay or Soft Light. I usually use Overlay because it'll also increase the contrast, which usually makes an image look a little better.
For a more subtle look I could use Soft Light. But now I'll choose Overlay and the other important thing I need to do here is check Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray), and you'll see what that means in just a second when I press OK here. Now in the Layers panel I have a brand new layer called dodge burn. I'm going to turn off the Background layer so that you can see that this dodge burn layer is filled with 50% gray, in the layer blend mode you can see that its blending mode is set to Overlay.
What's important about all that is that the Overlay blend mode is blind to this shade of gray. So this gray layer has no impact on the image. If I turn the Background layer on, you just see the photograph. You don't see the content of the dodge burn layer. In addition when I paint on this layer with any shade that's darker than 50% gray, it'll have the effect of darkening the appearance of the image of image on the layer below just as if I was burning. If I paint on this dodge burn layer with any shade lighter than 50% gray, it'll lighten the appearance of the image on the layer below just as if I was dodging. That's what makes this technique work.
I don't paint with the Dodge and Burn tools with this technique; I'm just going to paint with the regular Brush tool. So I've selected the Brush tool here in the Toolbox, I'm going to go up to the Options bar where I think it's important to lower the opacity of the brush. I usually start somewhere around 20%, I can change opacity either by scrubbing over the Opacity label by moving the Opacity slider or by just pressing 2 on my keyboard to change Opacity to 20% as I showed you how to do in the last movie.
Now I'm going to come into the image, I'll make my brush a little smaller by pressing the left bracket key. I also want the brush to be soft, so I'll hold down the Shift key and press on the left bracket key again. Then I'm going to make sure that I have white as my foreground color here in the Toolbox. I can do that either by clicking this double pointed arrow or by pressing X on the keyboard. Now I'm ready to dodge over the ballerina shoe. So I'll just click and drag over the shoe and as I do you can see that it's getting lighter. If I click and drag and hold my dodge mark doesn't get stronger but if I release my mouse and then I drag again in the same place, the effect is cumulative and that area will get lighter. So I'll continue to dodge wherever I want the image to be lighter, I'll do a little, up here on the stocking.
Now let's say that I add a dodge mark in an area and I change my mind. I'd rather not have this area of the dancer's leg be so light because that draws attention to that area. So when I change my mind, how do I undo? Well I can't erase because then I'll be erasing the gray on the dodge burn layer. So here's what I do instead, I'm going to set the foreground color to the same 50% gray with which I originally filled the dodge burn layer. If there is still is some 50% gray on that layer, I can just get my Eyedropper tool, turn off the Background layer so I can see where to click and click on that dodge burn layer to sample that color gray.
But if I've been doing a lot of dodging and I don't have any of the original gray left on this layer, I can just click on the foreground color box to open the Color Picker, I can set 50% gray by typing 128 in each of the Red, Green and Blue fields because that's the RGB value for 50% gray. I'll click OK here, I'll turn my Background layer back on, I'll select the Brush tool again, I'm going top set the Opacity of the tool to 100% in order to fix that error, then I'll come into the image and I'll just click and drag over the part that I don't want to dodge. I'm effectively undoing that dodge mark.
Now what if I want to burn or make part of the image darker? All I have to do is paint with black or a shade of gray that's darker than 50%. I'm going to switch my foreground color to black either by pressing this double pointed arrow or pressing the X key on my keyboard. I'll lower the Opacity to 20% by pressing 2 on my keyboard, then I'm going to come in, I'm going to paint around the corners and the edges of this image in order to focus the viewers attention on the brighter parts of the image.
This technique is called vignetting and it's one thing that I often use burning for. When I'm done, I can see a before and after view by going over to the Layers panel and clicking the eye icon next to the dodge burn layer. This is the result of dodging and burning on the separate layer and this is where I started. So what I'm using dodging and burning for here is not just to change tonal values but to change the impact of the image on the viewer.
I think this changes the mood of the image and it helps to focus the viewer's eye on the important subject matter. The beauty of working this way on a separate neutral dodge burn layer rather than directly on the image with the official Dodge Burn tools is that I've preserved the original photo and I have retained the option to lower the opacity of the dodge burn layer to go back in and edit my marks or even to throw the dodge burn layer away completely and start over.