Dodging and Burning in Adobe Photoshop CS5

I know the name of the technique sounds like a game you used to play at recess, but I promise it’s legit. This skill can come in handy when you want to make an object in your pictures “pop”, as they say. It allows you to darken/lighten certain parts of the picture while leaving other parts untouched. Although you can use levels to darken/lighten your picture as well, levels will apply to the entire picture instead of just the parts you want darkened/lightened.

Alright, let’s get started. First, open up the image you want to edit in Photoshop. Once it is opened, you will see a layer labeled background on the bottom right area of your screen. (It should have a picture of a lock next to it)

Since you’re going to be editing your picture, it is always best to create a duplicate layer. To do this, simply right click on the background layer and select duplicate layer as shown in the image below.

Sorry about that, folks! Should’ve warned you about the croc. My apologies.
Anyway, once you click on duplicate layer a window should pop up that looks like the one below. When it does, click ok.

Next, you’ll want to go up to the top menu bar where you’ll click on Edit >Fill.

(If you notice, I also changed the image from color to black & white. Of course, you don’t have to do this. I just feel that most animal photographs look better in black & white. If you do, however, want to convert your picture, all it takes is one quick step. Go to the very bottom right area of your screen under where all your layers are located. You should see 7 different symbols. One of these will be a black and white circle. Click on it and then click on black and white.)

Now let’s go back to where we left off with dodging and burning. You have just clicked on Edit > Fill. So, a window should have popped up that looks like the one below. As shown, there will be a drop down menu next to the word foreground color. Click on that and then select 50% gray. Then click ok.

Now, do not freak out when your image turns gray. That’s SUPPOSED to happen. Just go over to the right side of your screen above where the layers are located. You should see a drop down menu with the word Normal on it. CLick on the drop-down menu and then click on Soft Light.

See? Didn’t I tell you not to worry?

Now that your image is safe and sound, go to the left side of your screen with all the tools and select the brush.

Almost there. Once you’ve done that, you have to resize your brush. To do so, go to the top left of your screen, right below the main menu bar. When you’re there, you should see a number with a black dot over it. Click on the drop-down menu next to it and use the lever to resize the brush. (Make sure the hardness lever is at 0 otherwise your editing will be obvious)

Then, near the same place you resized the brush, you should see the word opacity and a number next to it. CLick on the arrow next to the number and again, use the lever to adjust it. (I’ve found that it is best to keep the opacity on the lower side so your editing does not appear too harsh)

Now all that’s left is the actual editing. Using the brush, click on the areas of the picture that you want darkened/lightened. If you find your brush is doing the opposite of what you want it to do, you may need to switch the background and foreground colors. To do this, go down towards the bottom of the left menu bar (the one with all the tools). You should see a black and white square diagonal from each other. Click on the arrows above it to switch the two colors, allowing you to lighten or darken.

Here is my finished product.

Happy editing! And remember, don’t forget to save your work!

~Indira Mukerji

~ by indi50093 on October 20, 2011.

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