Dodge and Burn Action

Posted in Tutorials.

This post will not only go over how to make yourself a good dodge and burn action in Photoshop it will go over how to make a “PROFESSIONAL” action. What I mean by that is making an action is actually pretty simple. Making an action that you can apply to ANY picture with ANY number of Layers that are named anyway you would like is much harder.

Making an action that is generalized actually takes a lot of thought and the use of Command keys.

What is an Action in Photoshop?

An action is the ability for Photoshop to “RECORD” a set number of manual steps. When you click on ANYTHING it is recorded!

Where people run into issues is when they start getting “Mouse happy”. “Mouse Happy” is when you make your actions by clicking with your mouse instead of keyboard shortcuts. When you click on layer 3 you will see in the action “Click layer 3”.

What happens if you are working on a 17 layer HDR image and you want to apply the action to the top most layer? Guess what? The action is going to go down to layer 3 and click it!

You must completely understand this concept before we move on.

Abraham Lincoln once said this… Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

Let’s be like Abraham Lincoln and make a game plan! First let’s write out the steps we would use to create dodging and burning layers. Is there any other tasks besides creating the layers that we would also need to do? If so, write them down in the planning stage.

  • 1.) Make Dodge Layer
    • 1.) Create a curves layer
    • 2.) Make adjustment on curves layer to brighten image
    • 3.) Apply Luminosity Blend Mode
    • 4.) Invert Mask
    • 5.) Rename Layer
  • 2.) Make Burning Layer
    • 1.) Create a curves layer
    • 2.) Make adjustment on curves layer to darken image
    • 3.) Apply Luminosity Blend Mode
    • 4.) Invert Mask
    • 5.) Rename Layer
  • 3.) Group the two layers
  • 4.) Rename the Group to Dodge & Burn
  • 5.) Reset the color swatches to the default (White and Black) because we are going to need to paint with white in order to see the dodging or burning

That wasn’t hard was it was it?

Please NOTE. When I ask you to rename a layer you must do it this way!

Now on with the tutorial Smile

1.) Open any image and make sure that the actions window is open (Alt+F9).

2.) Make sure that you don’t have your actions set to button mode.

3.) Create a new action

new-action

4.) Name the Action and Hit Record

New Action

5.) There are going to be 5 steps to create your dodge layer

  • 1.) Create a curves adjustment layer
  • 2.) Go to the 3rd vertical line from the left and the 1st horizontal line from the top. Raise the point about 1/4 of the box
  • 3.) Change the blend mode to “Luminosity”. This will prevent weird saturation issues that you normally get on most of the other dodging and burning tutorials you’ll see on the net.
  • 4.) Rename the layer using the technique noted above to Dodge
  • 5.) Hit CTRL+I to invert the Mask Layer.

Here’s a graphical version of the 5 steps above.

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6.) Let’s create a second layer using the same steps except we are going to darken the curves adjustment layer and name it Burn.

  • 1.) Create a curves adjustment layer
  • 2.) Got to the 1st vertical line from the left and the 3rd horizontal line from the top. Lower the point to about 1/4 of the box
  • 3.) Change the blend mode to “Luminosity”. This will prevent weird saturation issues that you normally get on most of the other dodging and burning tutorials you’ll see on the net.
  • 4.) Rename the layer using the technique noted above to Burn.
  • 5.) Hit CTRL+I to invert the Mask Layer.

 

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7.) Now it’s time for Photoshop Yoga! Hit SHIFT+ALT+[ (that is a left square bracket) to mark the current layer and the layer below it as selected. If you did it correctly it should look like this:

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8.) We now need to group these two layers by Hitting “CTRL+G

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9.) Rename the group layer

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12.) Because we  won’t know what color our brush will be when we run the action let’s reset it. We can do this by double-clicking the icon I’ve highlighted.

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10.) Let’s make the brush white now by switching the background and foreground colors.

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11.) Turn off the action recorder

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Now you can just select the action on any image and hit play. Photoshop will do all these steps on any image you choose! To use the dodge or burn layer just select the layer and start drawing white on that particular layer. Just remember burn means darken and dodge means lighten.

ADVANCED Tips

Who doesn’t like advanced tips? This section will go over some advanced techniques to so you how you can control your dodging and burning even more!

1.) Typically you want to set your brush opacity and flow pretty low. This requires you to press harder or more times in order to build up the dodging or burning. Because of this it really allows you to gradually work the picture and not overdo it.

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2.) After you are finished dodging and burning it’s important to go back and review to make sure you are happy with the results. Trust me it’s so easy to overdo things!

3.) If you are finding that you can’t apply enough dodging or burning to an image go back and bump up/down the curves layer you are working on.

There are a couple of ways of controlling each layer when you finished dodging and burning.

1.) You can either change the opacity of the layer to slightly reduce the effect

and/or

2.) Holding ALT and double clicking a layer you will bring up the “layer” style. Holding ALT and Double clicking the black or white markers you can split the marker. You can then effect the range of the dodging or burning. I truly believe it is this step that sets apart the hobbyists from the professional retouchers. It really allows you to fully control your edits!!!

Please note the amount of you set the range to will be slightly different for each picture.

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Hope you liked this dodging and burning tutorial!