NOTE: This post was originally posted on August 25th 2010. However, we still to this day have readers who want to master professional photo retouching. This tutorial has helped a lot of people since it was first pubilshed, so we hope that whether this is your first time reading it, or youíre using it as a refresher, itís helpful for you.
Professional Retouching Tutorial: Dodge and Burn (Part 2)

If youíve completed the Professional Retouching Ė Healing tutorial with your chosen image, youíre ready to jump into the next step in your professional workflow, Dodging and Burning. This is an advanced retouching tutorial, so stick with it and keep practicing!
You may know the Dodge and Burn tools (O) alter local exposure, lightening or darkening your image in brush strokes. By using Dodge and Burn weíre going to smooth and perfect skin while leaving texture intact, which is of critical importance in professional work. If youíve ever followed those blurry skin tutorials on other sites, this is definitely the article for you. Some may have refined their understanding of blurring to a high level, which is fine but itís like spending years becoming so good at pitching a ball you can hit a batsman right in the face 95% of the time. Itís a skill, sure, but unless you change your technique you wonít make the pro team
Hereís an example of skin retouching using dodge and burn;

Rather than use the standard tools, there is a better, more controlled and less destructive way to dodge and burn by using Curves, and weíre going to use that method in this second part of the tutorial.
ē Open your chosen image and start a new Curves Adjustment layer and pull the middle of the RGB curve up as demonstrated below.
ē Name the layer ĎDodgeí, click on the white mask tab and press Ctrl+I (Cmd+I on a Mac) to invert it, turning it black.
ē Start a second Curves Adjustment Layer and pull the middle of the RGB curve down as demonstrated below.
ē Name the layer ĎBurní, click on the white mask tab and press Ctrl+I (Cmd+I on a Mac) to invert it, turning it black.
Alongside each Curve below Iíve added blocked in red how each layer should look in the Layers palette when youíre finished, named and with a black mask tab.

Iíll reopen the image I began in part one to demonstrate.
Select a soft Brush set to around 1-4% flow, with your foreground colour set to white.



On the black masks youíre going to paint with white, showing the effect beneath gradually.
Click on the Dodge layerís black mask and paint an area lighter, or click the Burn layerís black mask to paint an area darker.
Remember the dark area at the side of the mouth from the first part of the tutorial? Simply paint it out with the Dodge layer;

With your Flow set to 1% you wonít see a huge change with every mouse click, itís a gradual, controlled build-up. Gently stroke your brush across all the problem dark and light patches, switching between Dodge and Burn until you have a beautiful, uniform skin texture.
If youíre having trouble seeing what needs dodging or burning, open a Black & White Adjustment Layer and pull the Reds down far enough to add contrast;

See them now?
The rest is just time, a keen eye and practice. Hereís the original side by side with what we can achieve with heal, dodge and burn;

Itís subtle, it takes a lot longer than quick-fix blurring, but remember the bus stop analogy from part one. Good retouching is invisible, cut corners and every waiting traveller, driver and pedestrian on the high street will find out about it.
Professional results take time, but itís worth it. Web-sized images only tell a small part of the story, but in print, you need to be perfect.
If you have any ideas for future tutorials, please comment below and let us know, Iíll be happy to explain the techniques behind any popular suggestions.