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Contrast with Dodge and Burn

How to Add Contrast with Dodge and Burn in Photoshop

Last updated on Dec 21, 2018 by Waseem Abbas

Do you want to add contrast to your photos? Some images need a dodge and burn effect to add a combination of lightness and darkness. In this article, we will show you how to add contrast with dodge and burn in Photoshop.

If you don’t have it yet, you can get Photoshop from Adobe’s site here.

Adding Contrast with Dodge and Burn

First thing you need to do is to open your image in Photoshop.

Next, go to Adjustments panel at the right side of your Photoshop screen and add a Curves adjustment layer. (We named ours ‘Dodge’.)

If the Adjustments panel is not visible, you can go to Window ยป Adjustments.

First Curves Layer

In the Curves settings, you should pick the drag tool (hand-shaped tool). You’ll need to click on the lightest color of the skin.

Drag Tool

Simply drag up to enhance the light color of the skin in your image.

Drag Color

Next, click on the layer mask of the Dodge layer in the Layers panel and press Ctrl + I. It will inverse the color of the layer mask.

Inverse Layer Mask Color

(You will notice that all your changes are now invisible and the image is back to the original colors. We will work on specific areas in the next steps.)

After the Dodge layer, you should add another Curves adjustment layer from the Adjustments Panel at the right side. (This time, we named it ‘Burn’.)

Second Curve

Like you did with the Dodge layer, pick the drag tool, but this time click on the darkest area of the skin.

Dark Tool

Drag the cursor down to enhance the darkness in your photo.

Dark Down

Go ahead and click on the layer mask of the Dark layer in the Layers Panel. Press Ctrl + I to inverse the layer mask color.

Inverse Color

In the next step, choose a large brush with 0% hardness. Set the brush color to white.

Select White Brush

Now, select the Dodge Layer in the layers panel.

Set the opacity of the brush to 20%. Then brush the face over areas you want to lighten, like the forehead, nose and chin. You should cover the details of eyes, lips, and the ridges under the nose.

Brush Tool

Next, select the Burn layer in the Layers panel, and brush over the areas you want to darken, like the cheekbones, hairline, and jaw to add more contrast.

Work on the details like the eyelashes, brows, and contours of the lips for a beautiful result.

Lastly, you should change the blending mode of the Burn layer to Multiply. You can also increase or decrease the opacity of the Dodge and Burn layer.

Blending mode and Opacity

That’s all. You can see the before and after image below.

Contrast with Dodge and Burn

We hope this article has helped you to learn how to add contrast with dodge and burn in Photoshop. You may also want to check out our guide on how to add faded film look to your images in Photoshop.

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