Color Burn and Color Dodge Blend Modes
When I'm doing my color grading, I often refer to the color wheel quite a bit, and this is a download that you can get. This is the color wheel that I've created that I use on a lot of my images as I've said before. When I'm looking at color grading, I'm considering a couple different things. I'm considering what am I going to do to the dark areas of my image? What am I gonna do to the light areas of my image? And what colors am I gonna use? Because color is gonna play a huge role in what the viewer is going to see in the end result. So a lot of the times, I refer to the color wheel. I don't guess, I don't play games with the color. I look at the color wheel. As a traditional painter, this color wheel was always next to me while I painted. It helped me mix my colors and all kinds of crazy stuff, so bringing that in to my photography world, I have a color wheel, even though you'd think, "Blake, you've probably memorized this thing by now." Yes, I dream about it, I sleep about it. This i...
s my life, but I still have one printed out right above my computer screen at all times. So when I'm thinking about color grading, especially when I'm thinking about color grading in terms of the adjustments that I want to use, when I want to manipulate the highlights in one area, but also manipulate the shadows in another area, it's what we call split toning, and you probably see that in Adobe CameraRoll. This is a more crazy approach to it, I guess if you want to say, in Photoshop. But I look at the color wheel and I say, "Okay, if I want to make a unified image that has unified color and unified shadows and highlights, I'm gonna use the things that I know create unity and harmony in an image." And that's typically going to be things that are across the color wheel from one another. That's a very harmonious way to introduce color to make the viewer not want to run scared. You want to run scared, color grade your images from '70s posters. That will make your viewer run scared. The colors that they used were just wild, all over the place, that almost seemed to have no rhyme or reason. Well, when we color grade using things that are compliments, or even analogous colors, analogous colors would be things on the color wheel that are closely related to each other, that are within three, I would say, of each other. So this would be a good analogous color scheme. This would be good analogous, good analogous. But when I want to create a little bit of dynamic transition between the highlights and shadows, I'm gonna use compliments. So I bring this up and I show this to you because we're gonna get into the color dodge and burn, and with the color dodge and burn set, we have a blue layer here. So I'm gonna change this blend mode to color burn, which, as we said, is going to bring along that color, but add a lot of contrast with it, right? So this is essentially burning my image with the color blue, and it's a very dark color blue that it's burning my image with. If I were to just come down here, as I said before, and drop the opacity, it's just dropping the intensity of the calculation that's happening. Whereas if I were to go and drop the fill down, the fill, what you see here, is as I drop that fill down, it's protecting any areas of white in my image. So when we're talking about burning, you know, this is burning the entire thing with blue. It's all getting really blue, crazy blue, really dark, so much so that even these areas of white have turned solid blue, which is not what we want when we're burning, 'cause when we're burning, we typically want to focus on our shadow areas. Unless you're manipulating it with your own dodging and burning by your hand as an artist, we want to make things darker, we want to make them darker. We want to make lighter, it's lighter, right? So if I drop this fill down, watch what happens. Incrementally as I drop it down, it's starting to protect the areas of highlights and transition its way down into areas of dark, so much so that when I drop this fill all the way down to here, it's now basically protecting my mid-tones all the way to my highlights, and this is the only thing that's getting the darkness. On the flip-side, we have the color dodge. If we were to bring this fill up to 100%, that color dodge is not just affecting what's happening with my highlights, it's also affecting what's happening over there with my shadows, so if I were to go ahead and drop down this fill, it's going the opposite direction, see that? Because those blend modes are opposite each other. They do the opposite of what the color dodge will dodge, color burn will burn, and it's just opposites. So on that note, if we go ahead and add a image here, let's go ahead and go and add that solid color fill with that dark blue layer. I'm gonna go ahead and change this to color burn. With that set to color burn, if I drop this fill, you'll start to see some of those highlight areas starting to poke through, right? So much so that if I keep going all the way down, all the way down, all the way down, I am now applying that color burn to just basically the shadow areas, slightly transitioning into the mid-tones. If I drop this fill even further down, to say something like 10%, it's very subtle. The thing is, what I want you to get from Photoshop is that we are not a hammer. We're not a jackhammer, okay? We don't want to take our image down. We want to make subtle effects that will subtly build up and create the look that we want. If you want to go in there and try to just jackhammer into Photoshop, it's not gonna work, okay? So with this set to color burn at 10%, if I were to flip this over, and go to color dodge, it's now going to add that blue to my white areas. But what I want to do is I want to leave that at color burn, and I'm gonna come up here, and I'm gonna add a new solid color fill, but again, good practices, let's call these shadows or shads for short. I'm gonna add a solid color fill, and I'm gonna select a yellowish kind of tan color, 'cause this blue and tan's a beautiful color combination when you're color grading, it's absolutely gorgeous. Change this to color dodge, drop the fill, and now you see that I've got a really nice ... Darker areas are more blue, and the highlight areas are more cream. So if I were to also come up here to-- Let's just drop this, bring this all the way back up. This is color dodge. If I were to bring the opacity down, it doesn't have the same effect, because what is the opacity doing here versus the fill? The opacity is setting the intensity of the calculation. The fill is setting the calculation. So if we come back down to our fill, and we drop that fill down to about here, and then we drop our opacity down, look at that. We can get a really good calculation, and then just drop the intensity of that calculation. And they work hand in hand, so now if I come down here and I drop the fill, you're gonna see that slight application of that color. But there's more, always. The great thing about color fills is that any time now, I can change these colors. Let's say I want to go with more of like a green and magenta, so I'll use magenta for my shadows, and I'll double click here, and use green for my highlights. It's a different look. It still looks good, it's just a different look. Let's change this to cyan, 'cause again, the color combinations of cyan and red work very well together. Again, it just works so well together. But we can also do something analogous. Analogous would be maybe changing this to orange. And now we have an orange and red kind of color scheme all happening on the image really quickly and pretty easily.