Variation to Edge Burns with Burning and Dodging using Photoshop Elements

Here’s a variation to the edge burn using the “Multiply” blending mode, and also an effective strategy for local burning and dodging using adjustment layers.

Last time I showed you how to create and edge burn using a Levels Adjustment Layer and then using a radial gradient on the mask to create a gentle darkening of the edge of the photo

This time we will accomplish the same this with a slightly different twist. Let’s open our image.

It is basically a good image, but it lacks pizzazz. I have already adjusted the levels for the best combination of brightness and contrast. But some local areas are too dark, while others could benefit from a boost of color and luminosity (brightness). Note that I am starting from a flattened image. (No existing layers.)

Let’s begin by creating three Level Adjustment layers by clicking on the Create Adjustment Layer icon at the top of the layers palette. As we create each layer, the histograms dialog box appears. We do not want to adjust anything, so just click OK each time. Now, it should look like this.

Your Layers Palette should look like this after you have added three adjustment layers. The Icon circled in red in the Create Adjustment Layer icon

Next we want to rename each layer, so we don’t forget what each one is for. To do this, click on the words “Levels n” in each layer, and the words will change into an editable box. Name the Edge Burn, Dodge and Burn, respectively.

I like to start with my edge burn first. Make sure all of your retouching and other local changes have been made. This sequence should be the last thing you do.

Click on the “Edge Burn” Layer to make it active. We still are not going to make any changes to the levels. But we are going to change this layer’s blending mode to “Multiply”.

Immediately the image gets darker. Notice the areas that have gotten stronger in color and contrast. Remember these areas for later treatment.

Now as we did before in the previous lesson about Edge Burns, we will create a radial gradient inside the mask to make the edge go darker. Make sure the foreground color is black (A). Chose the Gradient Tool (B) with the radial gradient icon selected (C). Click and drag from the center of the image. Your mask should now look like E. Click the eyeball icon on and off in the Edge Burn layer to see how much you have already accomplished.

The first thing we notice however is how dark the man’s face and body are in relation to the rest of the picture. Both pairs of their legs also blend into the darkness and we really can’t tell where their shoes begin and end.

So let’s do some dodging first. Dodging means we are locally going to adjust areas within the image to make them lighter. First, let’s click on the “Dodge” layer to make it active, and then change the blending mode of this layer exactly the way you did before but, this time, choose “Screen.”

Immediately the image has gotten brighter, but you can now clearly see those areas which were too dark before.

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by Michael Fulks

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