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How To Dodge And Burn Using Brushes

Last Updated on November 1, 2020 by Devaun Lennox

In today’s video I’m going to show you guys how an affinity photo to do dodging and burning using the Dodge and burn tools

So the photo that you guys see on screen right now is a photo that I took last month this or Marvel serie and almost done it editing this image we are getting super close this is not the final edit that you see on screen there is another project for that but so this is like I said this is a photo I took last month with my creative team out here in Las Vegas but I’m going to show you guys the before and after what we’re gonna be doing here today so it’s gonna be this

guy right here right so we’re gonna be doing I’m just adjusting the opacity right now so you can see what we’re doing I will be doing this on the face as well so you can see what it looks like on the face and that’s kind of what it does and let me zoom in a little bit here as well so you can see more apparent before and after or what we’re doing that’s what we’re gonna be doing is fixing all of that ignore some of the texture fixes that you’re seeing there on that below layer we’re just gonna be doing that right there with the dodge and burn tool so how did I get to

this point I am using frequency separation which is a filter over here frequency separation it’s in the sharpening filters I will be doing a video here shortly on how to best practices with how to set that up but I am using frequency separation for this technique I will be doing another video as well showcasing how to use this specific technique among a couple of the techniques that are very very similar to what we’re going to be doing today but not using it through frequency separation just using it through a single layer there are some ways that you can kind of

adjust it to do it on its own separate layer which that would be coming here shortly but for the suffice to say for this particular photo that is how I’m using it so with frequency separation they’ll create a high frequency layer which is up here and a low frequency layer which is technically the combination of these three this is original there so I’m doing the Dodge and burn technique that we’re gonna showcase right now on the low layer which is down here the high layer up here has our texture which we’re not going to touch we’re gonna just focus on fixing

the highlights and shadows so let me explain really briefly what is dodging and burning so you have an idea what dodging and burning is dodging and burning is a tool that allows us as photographers or retouchers to contour after the fact after the fact of taking a photo and not only that it also allows us to fix improper lighting techniques so so with that if you’re saved for example you’re shooting your shooting beauty and you’re using a beauty dish or a small modifier that’s focused mostly on the face there’s intent any natural follow that happens between the

neck and the shoulders on downwards that’s just how those model fibers work so with that there’s always going to be kind of an unevenness in terms of lighting just because it’s a small modifier it’s focused mostly on the face and then there’s gonna be just light fall-off that’s really what’s gonna happen so with that if you want to be able to fix that use dodging and burning now outside of that use dodging and burning to contour the the face and the body the body structure in the body just body parts and the actual figure of someone to basically give them

more depth and to give them more shape that’s what dodging and burning those are the two reasons why people use dodging and Bernie’s to either fix lightning or to add more dimension to your photo and it’s also to fix and bring out someone’s jaw structure so that’s just kind of the mindset on what we’re gonna really be doing I’m gonna be doing a mixture of both of those things so since we are do we have our frequency separation setup I’m gonna disable these two so you can just see the flat image since this is the original layer down here what I’m gonna

do is go up here and duplicate that layer so I can do it before and after for you guys how do we find the dodge and burn tool well we go over here into this these are like the they’re not like really the peeling type tools but these are like the the sharpening in the highlight and contouring type of tools and this is where we find the Dodge and burn tool so my my rule of thumb is always to start with dodging first dodging is lifting up shadows that’s really what it does it lifts up shadows it makes things brighter basically what is what dodging does by default

when you guys open up this tool you’re gonna have opacity set to a hundred percent flow should be a hundred percent as well and hardness may be at fifty percent what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna drop the opacity down to between ten to twenty five percent and the reason why is because for me my rule of thumb is I rather do larger strokes and just do them over and over again so that it adds up and it’s more of a subtle effect and I have a little bit more control and that’s part of the reason why I leave they’ll pass to be lower and then as far as flow as as

opposed to having a hundred or something less than a hundred percent I just leave it at hundred percent so that I can I can modulate and I can control the amount of this effect which is opacity only you could do the same thing with with flow we’ll do another video showcasing the difference between opacity and flow but you could do it that way as well we want them to make sure the hardness is set to zero percent because we want a very soft and edge free transition between where we’re applying the effects and the rest of the image we don’t want it to be hard edges and we’re gonna leave the width between 200 to 300 pixels just because I you as you’re doing this you want the brush the brush size to be very large and very subtle so you can you can have more even transitions between where you’re planning the effect also by default

it should be set to mid-tones I’m going to show you guys really quickly what that means so a mid-tone is right here in the image it’s not quite a shadow it’s not quite in the highlight it’s just kind of like an even right in the middle of the exposure the exposure I guess the exposure slider if we’re looking at exposure slider and this is a shadow over here and a highlight would be right here so that versus something like this versus something like that those are all different exposures so what happens when you go over into this tool and it’s saying okay select your

range you can either set it to effect shadows only mid-tones only or highlights only by default it should be set to mid-tones leave it at mid-tones and then change it as needed I’ll show you guys that as we kind of go along but the same kind of overarching settings that you can change on the dodge tool that we’re using right now are the same settings that you can change on the burn tool so I’m not gonna cover this changes again I’ll just let you know what I’m the settings that I’m using so I’m just gonna get kind of get started we’re talking a lot there’s a lot

to kind of cover before we get into it but I’m gonna just kind of just start kind of hitting this thing and you’ll you’ll see a little by little what it’s doing so main thing that I do when I first start using this tool is that I start to fix any of the uneven areas that I know for a fact that I want them to be more even holistically across the image and then from there I then switch over to the burn tool and I do contouring for me even dodge tool is mostly just fixing bad lighting I’m not gonna lie about it it just fixes for me I use it to fix a mostly bad lighting and then I use the burn tool

to really just contour granite you can use the Dodge tool as well to contour but yeah that’s just kind of the way I personally use it so and I’ll show you guys the before and after as we’re kind of hitting it already boom ba boom ba boom / – BAM boom okay so that right there just evening out the face versus the shoulders neck then now we’re gonna go back to our sharpening our brushes I don’t know what this brush window is called but this is this brush one over here we’re gonna hit the burn brush same settings as before – time 300 with opacity 25% and

then you can increase your decrease that has needed flow 100% hardness zero so it’s soft and we’re gonna set to mid-tones and I’m gonna show you guys where some of the areas that you want to make sure that you are actually adding some contouring I will do a separate video showcasing a little bit more in depth where to contour but we’re gonna hit that nose bridge of the nose right there we’re gonna hit these bad boys right here a little bit and you’ll see me I start to adjust the the opacity a little bit I mean with a little bit here and the opacity it’s a matter

of fact and then we’ll kind of add a little bit right there a little bit right there and we’ll add a little bit up here we’ll be right there I’m gonna increase the opacity and hit those collar bones a little bit just a little bit on the collar bones okay a little bit on there and then one of the main hair is gonna be right around the eyes to bring out the eyes get those eyes right there and get the eye brows and then from there we’re gonna zoom out make the brush bigger and then we’re gonna hit the hair add some more contrast to the hair brush that in and we’re gonna hit the

flowers a little bit a little more contrast there and then now I’m gonna go back over to the Dodge tool and we’re gonna actually move this over to highlights drop the opacity down and then we’re gonna just start to do some more massive contouring or something here hit right here underneath the eyes we’re gonna hit the eyes themselves okay as themselves bring out the eyebrow a little bit and make the brush a little bit larger hit the forehead open that up and then we’re gonna go back down here and we’re gonna smack those collarbones okay a little bit of

that okay okay get this cheap a little bit right there to even that out and we’re gonna hit the flowers on the head okay and maybe some of the flowers down here a little bit and I will show you guys it before and after it’s gonna be a little bit slow because I’m recording but that before and after like I said I will be doing a future video on letting you guys know exactly where to contour I’m not explaining that in this video that will come but that right there is how you use those two brushes right there there are going to be a lot more strategies and techniques

weekend’s probably spend a half now we’re talking about these specific tools but I just want to showcase to you guys what is possible with them from there you can kind of just if you’re just like oh no that that’s setting that effect was too strong just go on that layer this is part of the reason why I duplicated it on this particular layer and just change the opacity boom there you go and then you could just kind of adjust that accordingly I would think maybe about sixty percent would be great and then there you go you can see the before and after so I use that

technique mostly to fix like I said before bad lighting and then from there I contour just to bring out a little bit more highlight in the cheeks and a little bit on the eyes a little bit on the hair if there’s accessories and garments and things that nature that I want to accentuate boom hit that if I thought for whatever reason that this that’s the shawl or this this item that she was wearing which is just a throw but if I thought that was too bright I would just use the Dodge tool to or starting to burn tool to just burn that down and they dropped it I use it selectively to

basically face lighting honestly and then contouring like I mentioned before let’s that my friend wraps up today’s video we’re all set here as always hit that subscribe button down below while you’re over there mouse-over and hit that Bell button as well so you can stay up to date on the latest content that we’re dropping on our page as always if you have any comments questions or you’d like to see a future video that we have the capabilities to do on our channel bombings let us know we’ll give that knocked out for you we review every single comment that we

get from you guys which is awesome we appreciate every single one and then outside of that you know stay tuned to our channel we got some great content coming up soon some more different techniques to show you guys so you have some more tools in your quiver built in in your arsenal so that you’re well prepared unlike I was when I first started which is great so and then you know as always my friends peace out

Photo of author

Devaun Lennox

I'm a fashion, beauty, and commercial photographer turned impromptu photojournalist. Based in Las Vegas, my images are graphic, bold, and full-on contrast.