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The Simplest Way to Dodge & Burn In Photoshop – Using Curves

Last Updated on November 1, 2020 by Devaun Lennox

In today’s video I’m going to show you guys how to do dodging burning in Photoshop using curves



Alright so here we are in Photoshop this is the photo loaded up I am going to be using my Wacom tablet today I’m using the medium into its pro and I have the accompanying pencil as well the stylus so let’s head over into Photoshop this is going to be the image I’m gonna show you guys let me go back into full screen and just do a tab alright so I do have some shortcuts loaded up on the Wacom tablet I’m just gonna be basically adjusting the brush I brushed size I don’t think I’m gonna be using anything else and I do have a shortcut for the hand tool as well so I

can move around in the frame so I’m gonna show you guys this is the before and this is the after I’m just going to show you guys this technique really quick it’s not necessary this is not necessarily the way that I would do dodging burnin as far as like on this particular image I would spend more time but I just wanted to just get a quick kind of reference so you can kind of see what this this technique looks like so you understand what we’re gonna be kind of doing so we’re gonna be doing this with curves essentially what dodge and burn does it accentuates

highlights and shadows it’s a way to basically do selective contrast in areas that you want people to focus on or you want people to have more attention bring their eyes towards not only that it just accentuates a person job structure their bone structure their definition it said it helps accentuate makeup and eyes and things of that nature so basically that’s what dodging burning is used for is to really recontour someone’s face and then also position the viewers eye so that’s the before and after okay so we’re gonna just set this up right now so first things first

we’re gonna go down here to adjustment layer and we’re gonna grab a curves adjustment layer so what we’re gonna do here is we’re gonna do the midpoint and we’re gonna bring it up about 1/3 of the way if you guys have seen the tutorial on me fixing bad or poopy lighting this is a similar Niq but the intention behind doing these two techniques are different what we’re gonna do is delete the layer mess by right-clicking we’re gonna hold down option or all on our keyboard and then add layer mask so that it’s black the next thing that we’re gonna do is that we’re

actually going to put this to this layer here we’re gonna put that to Lumosity just like that previous tutorial you want to make sure when you’re using curves if you don’t have the blend mode set up properly it actually changes the exposure of the photo as well as changing the color and the contrast so with that I just wanted to focus on pulling highlights and shadows I don’t want it to change the color or the contrast in that way I just wanted to as a tool to basically increase or decrease the the brightness of a certain area that I’m brushing over so with that I’m

going to make sure it’s set to luminosity next thing we’re gonna do is right click on that layer and we’re gonna duplicate that layer and hit OK and we’re gonna go into that top layer that we just created and we’re gonna do the opposite and we’re gonna put it down over here one third of the way as well next thing is gonna be setting up our brush so we’re gonna press B to go to our brush tool by default it’s gonna be set to this brush right here 80 pixels and it’s giving 100% hardness we’re gonna go to the one that’s leftmost over which basically sets your hardness

of your brush to 0% with the same size as that previous brush again with this technique you when you’re doing the brush strokes you want to make sure that it’s smooth and you don’t want it to be hard so that every time you press there’s a defined edge around the areas that you’re applying the adjustment so with that I’m gonna make sure the hardness is set to zero and I’m gonna just use choosing that brush because it defaults but to doing that okay I’m gonna increase my brush size and the bottom layer is highlights the top layer right here is shadows so

we’re going to start focusing on the highlights and now we’re going to do some contouring the only thing that I’m changing up here’s I’m decreasing my opacity from 100% to 50 so that it gives me a little more leeway with applying this effect but you could just leave it a hundred percent and then decrease the opacity of the the blend mode right over here they both work the same way but for me I rather just do that this person burns and then we’re just gonna kind of brush make sure our our colors set to white as opposed to black and we’re you’re going to

just start brushing okay we’re going to just even that out and make the brush a little bit smaller hit the nose get some nose action okay even that out we’re going to hit those cheeks cheekbones okay we’re gonna hit those cheeks and come down a little bit okay and we’re gonna hit the other cheek over here and bring those down and then we’re gonna zoom in and we’re gonna hit the this little area right here accentuate right here and right here also go any accentuate the lips bring those lips out same thing with the teeth bring those teeth out as well I’m gonna

zoom back out okay you use my hand tool and I’m gonna just do the chin right here there’s a nice smooth gradient going down and then now I see on the cake we’re gonna just hit some of these areas that on the flowers that we want to bring out the same thing with some of the areas around the eyes around the makeup the eyes themselves and just around them hair and let’s do something in the hair bring out some of those highlights in the hair as well okay so let me show you guys before and after here we go so that’s just the highlights and again this is

basically selectively adding contrast that’s essentially what we’re doing at dodging burning now we’re gonna go up to our that top most curve layer which is our darken our shadows make sure that our all of our settings are the same which they should be and we’re gonna hit the eyebrows darken up the eyebrows adjust our brush size as needed darken up those eyebrows we’re gonna do around the eyes to add a little bit more contrast and pop to the eyes including the pupils as well alright add some there we’re gonna do the corners of the lip right here and

under Neath the lip itself we’re gonna do some of these darker areas in the hair make the hair pop over here the shadows right here we’ll do a little bit of shadows around the flowers as well really anything we want to pop they could be anything you guys can play around with this but once you do Dodger burning for enough times and you’ll you’ll kind of get it an idea where you know I’m gonna do just accentuate the nose bone right here by just kind of doing that and then I’m also gonna just do the opposite right here around those two corners and then I’m gonna

make this really big and I’m gonna just do underneath the chin underneath the chin and then right around here on that side as well okay so now we can see the difference there now you know with this it’s not this is not 100% the way that I would do dogs and burning on this image but this is just general contouring which is like makeup stuff definitely go on Pinterest and check out I will do a video on this particularly but in the meantime until I do that go on Pinterest and just look at makeup references to know where to apply highlighter or contour basically

made it makeup artists ease that to bring out people’s jaw structure but that right there is basically it but you can see the difference right accentuated all that jaw structure in fact this actually looks much better than the first time I did this which is great but I situated all that jaw structure just using curves and that again that’s the purpose of doing dodging burn is really to basically bring out so much jaw structure to contour the face to contour the person’s physique wherever that may be collar bones things that nature their neck whatever their shoulders

and then also its to fix and accentuate highlights and shadows to basically create more contrast and pop in the image without actually adding contrast or a sharpening kind of filter or something like that it’s just doing it selectively just through the paint brush so that right there is basically where we got so I hope that video added some value you guys I hope kind of demystified how to do dodging burn there’s a multitude of different ways to do this this is just one way to do it I’m gonna do another video right now which is showcasing another technique but

there’s a couple other techniques on how to do this but this is just the one way that I found that’s the most effective and it’s super easy you just use one tool it’s just super fast it’s five minutes not even so I hope this video added some value you guys let me know in the comments down below if you have any questions or maybe I missed something or you think maybe there’s be a certain change that should make to basically make this technique work a little bit better and then like the video as well and if you’re if you’re new and you haven’t subscribed yet please consider doing so we love your support we’d love for your feedback as well and until the next time and the next video my friends peace out and

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.