Dodge and Burn are tools often used by photographers of all kinds to enhance their images. To highlight details, improve contrast, make an element stand out more, brighten up eyes in a portrait… There are plenty of applications.
These tools have been available in Photoshop for quite a long time now. But using Dodge and Burn “as is” is not recommended as it would be a “destructive” edit (meaning you cannot undo after you save and close). Therefore, new solutions were created.
Most of them are based upon creating a 50% grey filled layer set to Overlay blend mode and then painting with a brush over it with black (Burn) or white (Dodge).
This has been the norm for a long time now and it’s served the purpose very well. But it had its own limitations. For example in order to erase a brush you have to paint over it again with a 50% grey brush. And being one layer only, you could also only use one blend mode (usually Overlay), which may not yield the optimal result.
Photoshop has evolved and so has its usage. So I was myself looking for a different way to Dodge and Burn and I came up with something that fits my editing style very well.
It seems more complex because it uses 2 layers rather than one. But it gives me so much flexibility and precision that I’m very much fine with an extra layer.
I do explain everything about Dodge and Burn, old and new, in this video:
And as usual, here’s the direct link, in case the embed doesn’t work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbU0W_7-CsQ
I hope you find this new technique to Dodge and Burn as useful as I do. I know that there are also other ways to apply this effect. But again they seem to fall short on flexibility.
And I don’t think this will be my last try to perfect the technique to Dodge and Burn in Photoshop. But it seems it might stay with me for a while at least.
Let me know if you plan to use this technique and if it helps you!