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A-V Tutorials

Using the Dodge/Burn Tool

The Basics


I mostly use this for times when I want to make a background darker to help make the main part of the graphic stand out which means that I know more about using the burn tool than the dodge tool.  (They’re the same, just opposite functions of the same tool.)  I’ll talk briefly about both and then focus specifically on how each can be used.


The dodge tool basically makes everything it is used on lighter.  This can be very helpful when you want to lighten parts of an image and decrease the contrast or if a picture is very murky.  In the later case you can actually use the Brightness/Contrast tool to make it look fairly normal but a lot lighter.  If you are working with the whole image it is often easier to simply use the Brightness/Contrast tool, increasing both.


The burn tool does the opposite; making everything it is used on darker.  As I said, I often use this to highlight the main part of the image.  It is often possible to create basically the same effect using the Brightness/Contrast tool but when you use this method you can end up with an overly contrasted main section.  In this case it is simpler and more effective to slightly increase the Contrast and use the burn tool to darken the background.




We’ll start out with a blank 500 by 150 pixel image and THIS picture.  Use the fill button to color the background of the base image “ffffe7.”  Now use the free select tool to select Eowyn from the rest of the image (set the feather radius at about 30).


Now we have to scale Eowyn down so that she fits nicely on the image.  Use Layer>Scale Layer and select a height of 200 pixels.  Reposition her nicely.  At this point we have something like this:


DON’T ANCHOR THE LAYER.   Now go to the eraser tool and erase most of what is left of the dark background.  Go to the Dodge/Burn tool and make sure it is set on dodge.  Select the Big Galaxy brush (or the Circle (19) if you’re making an avatar).  Now, using the same technique as you would for erasing, go over her several times.


Here’s what we have:


It is possible to go even further.  I used the dodge tool once more and then increased the contrast somewhat which gave me this:


At this point you can add text or a border or anything else you might desire.




Okay, now that we have the basics of using this tool for dodging down let’s look at burning.  To start use THIS PICTURE.  Copy and paste the whole thing onto a 500 by 150 pixel base image.  Scale the layer to 510 pixels.  Increase the contrast to about 10.  At this point we have a perfectly adequate graphic.


Arwen stands out well against the background.  However, we can increase this effect even more.  Go to the Dodge/Burn tool and select the Big Galaxy (Circle (19)) brush.  Make sure that the tool is set to burn and go over the green background until you are satisfied.  This part is really a matter of taste that you will have to decide for yourself.


There.  As with the dodge tool you can now add text or a border.