How to make Non-Destructive “Dodge” & “Burn” adjustment layers in Photoshop

Applies to all versions of Photoshop

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Dodging and Burning are methods used to subtly brighten the shadows or darken highlights within an image. Primarily to enhance the viewing experience and draw the “eye” to a particular location within the image.

After opening an image in PS do the following to setup a Dodge adjustment layer – Always start on a copy of your background layer – Fig 1

On your Adjustments Palette – select a Curves adjustment – Fig 2

This will make an adjustment layer titled “Curves 1” in your layer palette usually above your background or last adjustment layer you made

At the top of your layers palette you’ll see the word “Normal” and it has an up/down arrow next to it. select the arrow and in the open drop down menu select “Screen”. Your image should brighten considerably. this is how much “dodge” effect you can have. – Fig 3

Your Layer Palette should look like – Fig 4

Now go to “Edit” at the top left of the Photoshop program window. In that drop down select “Fill” – Fig 5

A dialog box will open. In that box where it says “Use” make sure it says “black”. The remainder of the box should be “normal” and “100%”, the “preserve transparency” box should not be checked. Hit “OK” and your image should go back to its former brightness. – Fig 6

Back on the layers palette and your new “Curves 1” layer, double click on the title “Curves 1” and rename it to “Dodge”

Now select the black box just to the left of the word “Dodge” NOTE: This box must always be selected for the effect to work. – Fig 7

On the Far left of your screen select the brush tool and make sure it is at its softest setting. – Fig 8

Also on the far left of your screen make sure the color swatch boxes (the white over black box tool) is set to show the White is over Black box. White over black allows the effect – black over white removes the effect.

WoB

BoWWhite over black applies effect

        Black over white removes effect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now make sure you have a low opacity to your brush starting around 15%. – Fig 9

You can now begin to “paint” in the effect where you want it. Adjust the opacity as needed either up or down in percentage.

I know it sounds like a lot of steps but it comes faster as you get used to it. You can make it as an action preset if you want.

To make a “Burn” adjustment layer it is very similar.

Follow these steps.

(The only difference in step is to you select “Multiply” instead of “Screen” in the blend selection – Fig 3) Read on…

After opening an image in PS do the following to setup a Burn adjustment layer- Again, always start on a copy of your background layer. – Fig 1

On your Adjustments Palette – select a Curves adjustment This will make an adjustment layer titled “Curves 2” in your layer palette usually above your background or last adjustment layer you made. – Fig 2

At the top of your layers palette you’ll see the word “Normal” and it has an up/down arrow next to it. (This is the only step which is different than making a Dodge effect)Select the arrow and in the open drop down menu select”Multiply”. Your image should darken considerably. this is how much “burn” effect you can have. – Fig 3

Now go to “Edit” at the top left of the Photoshop program window. – Fig 5

In that drop down select “Fill…” A dialog box will open. In that box where it says “Use” make sure it says “black”. The remainder of the box should be “normal” and “100%”, the “preserve transparency” box should not be checked. Hit “OK” and your image should go back to its former brightness. – Fig 6

Back on the layers palette and your new “Curves 2” layer, double click on the title “Curves 2” and rename it to “Burn” Now select the black box to the left of the word “Burn” NOTE: This box must be selected for the effect to work. – Fig 7

On the Far left of your screen select the brush tool and make sure it is at its softest setting. – Fig 8

Also on the far left of your screen make sure the color swatch boxes (the white over black box tool) is set to show the White is over Black box. White over black allows the effect – black over white removes the effect.

Now make sure you have a low opacity to your brush starting around 15% and begin to “paint” in the effect where you want it. Adjust the opacity as needed either up or down in percentage. – Fig 9

That’s it!

Now just paint in the effects to enhance either a light or dark area. Go slow using lower than higher opacity on your brush, just go over the area repeatedly until you get what you want.

As a final step on your image, try burning down the outer perimeter to bring the viewer’s “eye” into your image

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