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Tips & Tricks

One Of The Fastest Ways To Dodge & Burn In Photoshop

By Kishore Sawh on October 5th 2014


Dodging and burning is probably my most used process in post. That’s likely half due to the fact it’s an extension from my film developing days, and the fact it’s so easy, and so effective. Too many people, when confronted with Photoshop without much experience, are intimidated by the interface and just how dauntingly powerful a tool it is.

Even to dodge and burn, there are a handful of ways to go about it. Mine, which I’ll explain in a later post, is generally easy, where I create two curves layers, adjust one up and one down, then mask, and then paint over the areas desired. The way Aaron Nace will show you today is another simple way to go about it, and unlike my method, sort of helps guide you as to where the highlights and shadows should be strengthened.

[REWIND: How To Make The Most Out Of Graduated Filters In Post | Camera RAW Makes It Easy]

Here’s How:

Duplicate the background layer and then desaturate the layer by keying in Shift + Smd/Ctrl+U, and then changing the blending mode of that layer to Vivid Light.

Next, you’ll be using a High pass filter, but selecting Filter>Other>High Pass. Aaron points out that this is very similar to the technique used to sharpen an image spare the fact that in this scenario, you’ll be bringing the radius extremely far to the right, in order to focus on broader details.

At this point, you’re more than halfway there. You’ll notice the whole image looks much too sharp and not how you’ll desire it, so create a layer mask and simply paint back only what you’d like to be visible. Of course, you can also change the opacity at this point and Aaron suggests shifting the blending mode to something like Soft Light if what you’re going for is more subtle. All in all, very cool, very fast.



As always, if you are a fan of Aaron’s teachings (and who isn’t?), be sure to check back here for updates, and follow along with Aaron on YouTube and Phlearn. You should also consider becoming quickly adept at Photoshop with the Phlearn Photoshop 101 & 201 sets as they are extremely comprehensive, and will have you quickly doing things with Photoshop you may have otherwise thought too complex, or didn’t even know you could do.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar

    Great article !

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  2. Al cu

    P.S. good article

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  3. Al cu

    I know will sound immature but I lift weights so I can’t not look at that little DB compared to his size, Art direction was not there. Sorry folks, I had to please look over me

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  4. Steven Mole

    Definitely works well with the example image, looks like it could be a neat trick for high-impact images, boxers, fighters and the like.

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  5. Ryan Orcullo

    Wow this is really great. Efficient and effective technique. Thanks :D

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  6. Mi Guel

    Really like the work done by Aaron of Phlearn. Thanks all for the share.

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  7. Chuck Eggen

    Simpler solution to dodge and burn. Maybe not for every situation but a nice trick to keep in the bag. Thanks SLR and Phlearn!

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