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TIP: Burn and dodge the gentler way

Started by kiska, August 12, 2007, 10:38:21 AM

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 Instead of the burn/dodge tools which I find too strong, I sometimes use this method I found somewhere. ( AND YOU CAN ERASE OR TRASH IT !  ;D )

1 Create an empty layer above what you're working on. Set it to soft mode. Lower opacity to about 20%.

2 Set your color picker to the default black/white. Black = burn. White = dodge.

3 Paint with a soft brush, medium opacity with whichever color is applicable.
Photoshop 2021, MacPro


Hi Kiska

This is a great tip.  I think it explains very succinctly why I have so little luck with the dodge and burn tools.  It's so difficult to not be too heavy handed, and this is non-destructive and allows room for experiment.

We have to be sure this gets into our tips & tricks thread or PDF – whichever we decide will be the most helpful.

Thanks for sharing it.

What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal. ~Albert Pine

(Photoshop CS5 /Mac Pro)


Thank you Kiska.

I'm terrible with the burn tool.  This sounds like a great alternative.



I've used an almost identical method for dodging and burning.  Create a new layer from the menu bar:  layer>new>layer.  I then set the layer mode to soft light, and below it, check the box to "fill with soft light neutral color 50% gray", and then click OK.  I then use either white or black, depending on if I'm dodging or burning, and change my brush opacity anywhere from 20% down to 5%, depending on the need.  This has worked quite well for me.



Kiska, this is a great tip. Using the dodge and burn tools is like restoring a photo with a sledge hammer for me. I've had no luck at all with it.  I do a similar procedure but use screen and multiply and then set the opacity where I need it  I'm going to try your method.



I'd like to add another method that's almost the same yet slightly different:
Make two layers above the original, filling both with 50% grey and setting both to Overlay (or Soft Light, if you prefer).  As, I'm sure, most of us already know, 50% grey has very little, if any, effect on the underlying image in Overlay mode.
Use the Dodge tool on one layer and the Burn tool on the other - this way you can adjust the opacity of the highlights and shadows independantly from one another and, by using Dodge and Burn, as opposed to black and white, the changes can be even more subtle.


Yet another great tip.  I'll have to try that one too.



Three great tips  :up: I have been using the same method as Zapphnath and have found it very good, but also took me a long time to get it right!I find dodge and burn to be one of the most difficult in photoshop to master.


I was showing these tips to my Mom last night (who's an OPR volunteer) and she was really impressed with what these techniques could do.



As with all things PS there are many ways to achieve our goals. It's so great to have these alternative methods because as we all know; what works on one photo doesn't necessarily work on another. The tips and techniques board is a wonderful part of OPR.  Keep em coming!



One way I have learned that, to me, gives better results is to duplicate the layer (or merge visible), then set a history point and use the history brush in either screen or multiply mode with 10-20% opacity.

I have set up an action to do this much more quickly (if anyone is interested, I can probably find a way to post it).

To me, this keeps the colors from going funky like what can sometimes happen with the other methods.


Thanks for sharing that tip Kevin, I will have to try that!

Hannie Scheltema
Distribution Coordinator
[email protected]


Well, I suppose I should add yet another way to D&B...
Make 2 curves adj layers, adj 1 light(dodge), 1 dark(burn), make it plenty  so you can see what you're doing.can always adjust it later...
Make the mask on both black, then paint with white where you want to dodge or burn. Yes it will look like crap while you're doing it, ah, but then the magic...go to the mask properties and feather the mask and watch it all smooth out as you adjust...and don't forget, you can adj the curves too...hope this is clear as mud now...lol...cheers...
The early bird gets the worm, but the SECOND mouse gets the cheese...




You can set the exposure (strength) of the burn/dodge tool in the tool bar settings on the top left of the Photoshop interface after you select the tool itself...