Beginners guide to dodging and burning with Photoshop elements

Non destructive

The dodge and burn tools in Photoshop elements don’t do a particularly good job, so here’s a better way to dodge and burn your photograph, it’s easy to use, and it’s non destructive. Ive used elements 9, but you can use elements 10 or earlier elements.

Begin by opening the photograph that could do with some dodging and burning. In the photo I’ve chosen below, there seems to be more burning (darkening) needed than dodging; the sky alone looks a bit washed out.

step 1

Next, you need to add a new layer; you can click on the down facing arrow in the layers palette and choose new layer from the flyout menu, or ( much simpler)  just click on the create a new layer icon and press alt-click at the same time.

step 2

You now have access to the new layer dialog box shown below.

step 3

Now in the dialog box from the drop down menu, change the mode to overlay.

step 4

Next, click on the check box for fill with overlay-neutral color (50% grey), now click ok.

step 5

Just above your background layer you’ll see a new layer (a grey thumbnail called layer 1) filled with 50% grey- it will appear transparent in your image window.

step 6

Click on the brush tool (or just press B), then pick a medium, soft-edged brush from the brush picker. Lower the opacity to anything from 30% to 5% (below).

step 7

Press X then D to set your foreground colour to black if you need to burn (darken) an area on your photo, or press X to set your foreground colour to white  to dodge (lighten) an area. Use the slider in the size box to make the brush bigger or smaller.

step 8

Now paint over the areas your want to highlight, remember to press X to lighten an area, and press D to darken. As you paint an area you’ll see light grey strokes appear in the thunbnail of your grey transparent layer; in the image window you’ll see soft highlights.

If you paint over an area and it looks a bit too intense, then just lower the opacity to soften it a little, if it doesn’t seem enough, then just keep painting over the same spot again until it looks about right.

step 9

Before and after…

before editing…

…after edting.

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