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Dodging and Burning

Using an overlay layer to dodge and burn

To use a single overlay layer to both dodge and burn, follow these steps.

  1. Create a new layer, not an adjustment layer, by clicking Layer > New > Layer.  Or, Alt + click (Option + click) the Create a new layer icon New layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
  2. In the New Layer dialog box (see Figure 1 below), change Mode to Overlay or Soft Light.
  3. Check the Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray) box.
  4. Click OK to close the New Layer dialog box.
  5. Make the Brush tool Brush tool the active tool and select an appropriately sized brush with a soft edge.
  6. Set the brush opacity (not the layer's opacity) to 10 - 15%.  I prefer a low setting because to increase the effect, you continue to paint over the area.  The brush opacity setting is on the Options bar.
  7. Type the letter d to set the foreground and background colors to black and white.
  8. To dodge an area (make it lighter), paint with white.  To burn an area (make it darker), paint with black paint.
  9. Type the letter x to switch, as needed, between black Black foreground and white White foreground foreground color.


Overlay layer

Figure 1.  Overlay Layer Dialog Box


You can paint with 50% gray to erase a change.  50% gray can be found in the Swatches panel.



Soft edged brushes can be found on the Downloads page.