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Published on 01 Mar 2013 | over 4 years ago

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Dodge and Burn Secrets: Adobe Photoshop CS6

You can add incredible depth to your images by enhancing the highlights and the shadows. This method is called dodging and burning.

How to Use a Light Layer

On a new layer, set your brush color to white and lower the flow to about 0.05. Here we're using a custom brush with a minimum diameter of 40% and the flow jitter set to pen pressure. (This brush setting works the best when using a tablet).

Now, paint by simply following the highlights of the image. Where the image is lighter, softly paint a layer of white. Be sure to focus mainly on areas you want to draw attention to, like the cheekbones, eyebrows, and cupid's bow. Set your layer Blend Mode from Normal down to Soft Light for the most natural look.

Knowing where to paint and when to stop is an important skill for this technique! However if you're new to dodging and burning, a helpful tool is 'Blend If', which will isolate your painting over just the lightest parts of the image.

How to Use a Dark Layer

On another new layer, set your brush color to a darker and less saturated tone of the skin. Do so by sampling your subject's skin color using Alt/Option, and then adjusting it in the dialogue box.

Paint your burn in a similar way to the dodge, except in the places you want darkened and defined. Under the eyebrow, just below the cheekbone, and along the nose are great places to start. If you feel you went a bit too far, just use your eraser tool and clear it away.

Don't worry if it takes a little while! A good dodge and burn will always takes time.

How to Use a more General 'Blend If'

To really highlight the entire subject, sample the lightest color in the image and paint it until it completely covers the subject. (Ideally, don't color the subject in areas that are too far from the focal point).

Then, go to 'Blend If' and do the same thing as with the dodging before. Be sure to set the blend to Soft Light to really get that low-lit effect.

Do the opposite by choosing a dark color and painting over the areas furthest from the focal point. Use 'Blend If' and see the contrast it makes! If it adds too much color to the image, lower the Hue/Saturation of the layer. Likewise, go ahead and color correct the face if you see it's lost any tone from the dodging and burning.

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