My Complete Dodging and Burning Workflow in Photoshop

Table of Contents

0:00Overview of the Dodging and Burning Workflow
2:43Setting Up the Burn Layer
5:37Why a Solid Color Adjustment Layer is Better than a 50% Grey Layer
10:53Using Curves to Add More Texture
13:35Setting Up the Dodge Layer for Light Painting
16:18Color Dodging and Burning
18:36Using Luminosity Masks to Prevent Washed Out Contrast
20:44Using Dissimilar Colors to Dodge and Burn a Color Image
23:37Tips on Burning a Color Image
26:27The Benefits of Using Curves to Dodge and Burn
29:54Repurposing Layer Masks

Dodging and Burning …

This is the most effective Photoshop technique for directing the eye through the frame. By manipulating light and shadow, we can literally draw a path for the eyes to follow by subduing distractions and enhancing our focal points. When done correctly, you can transform a strong composition into something extraordinary.

Because this is a powerful technique, the risk for side effects is also great. Muddy detail, loss of contrast, unwanted color shifts…these are all things you need to compensate for when dodging and burning. And sometimes, you may not even be aware that you are damaging your image until it’s too late.

So for this tutorial, I’d like to show you my new dodging and burning workflow that accomplishes two very important things:

  1. Minimizes the unwanted side effects of dodging and burning by protecting your image, and
  2. Grants you the most creative freedom while retaining the highest quality detail.

This lesson is pulled directly from The Darkroom, my private mentorship program for those looking to create more meaningful images in Lightroom and Photoshop.