Skip to main content

photo & video

Local Dodging and Burning for Beauty Retouching

Lesson 2 of 11

Overview of Dodging and Burning

Chris Knight

Local Dodging and Burning for Beauty Retouching

Chris Knight

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

2. Overview of Dodging and Burning

Lesson Info

Overview of Dodging and Burning

So let's start by just talking about what dodging and burning is, dodging and burning uses highlight and shadow to either amplify or downplay depth, when we are in Photoshop, we use tools like the Dodge and Burn, but what we're really just referring to is lightening or darkening in a general sense, it is not necessarily specifically about the tool you are using, so you're gonna see me use the Dodge and Burn tool, you're also gonna see me use Adjustment Layers to achieve the same effect, it's not about one of these necessarily being the absolute best way to do it, at the end of the day, it's really just about lightening and darkening the image. Now historically, if we go back, you may be familiar with an image like this, this was an older Avedon portrait and you can see this is a markup on how dodging and burning was achieved in film images and you know, different exposures to the image would allow you to lighten and darken and so what we are fundamentally doing in Photoshop today is re...

ally no different than this, but the way we do it and the tools that we get to use are a lot easier and a lot more forgiving and a lot less destructive, so we're gonna apply a lot of these same principles inside Photoshop. Now, dodging and burning is all about depth and we can either give depth or we can take depth away and to illustrate this concept relatively simply, we're gonna do a digital version of an old drawing exercise and we're gonna go into Photoshop and we're gonna just create a simple, New Document, wrong one, let's make it a little bit bigger, go to the default Photoshop size, okay, so we start with a ball and all I'm gonna do is make a circle and I'm gonna fill it with 50% gray, okay, this is flat, there is no depth, however, if I grab my Dodge tool, what I can do is I can create in circular movement, depending upon how I shape the ball and how I add in shadow, I can create a sphere and so this is fundamentally a mastery of this concept allows you to create depth in an image, this is where we started and through just a little bit of dodge and burn, we go here, so we're controlling light, controlling depth and controlling dimension, we are remember after all working on a two-dimensional plane and we're trying to give the illusion of depth here and there are several ways to do it, but the way in which we're really working to control depth is through the use of highlight and shadow. Now, what we can also do is to a degree, we can lessen this and I'm not gonna be able to lessen it completely, to kill it completely, just because of the tool, but what I'm basically gonna do is apply the opposite technique here, so I'm gonna kind of work my way through this and I'm gonna darken the light stuff and I'm gonna lighten the dark stuff and I'm gonna start to remove that depth, so in the first version, it was about adding highlight and shadow, here we've done the opposite and we've removed depth and this very basic idea is at the core of what we're doing today, the first thing is global dodging and burning, it's adding depth, local dodging and burning is oftentimes about this, lessening depth to make whatever object you're looking at look less three-dimensional and in this particular case, what we're looking at is the texture of the skin, so we're not actually altering the texture itself, we are lightening and darkening the texture to make it appear smoother.

Class Description

Chris Knight demystifies local dodging and burning to show you one of the most effective ways to make skin look amazing in your images! He'll show you how to use one of the most powerful tools in a retoucher’s arsenal. Chris will walk through this non-destructive technique that speeds up your workflow while softening the transitions between skin tones without losing the details you want to keep. Get an in-depth look at skin retouching and take your portraits to the next level.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017.1.1

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Andreas Böhrnsen

Great course on dodging and burning and beauty retouching in general. Think he went through all the steps very thoroughly. Well explained and overall a good course. Would highly recommend it to anyone into portrait and beauty photography.

Bjorn Carlen

A highly recommended class! Chris Knight is super efficient and tremendously clear an instructor. He manages to sqeeze so much useful information and tips into this hour, that I have to go back and revisit several times before i get it all. That may say something anout me myself, but I think also about the efficiency of the instructor. Very good!


I have viewed many Creative Live classes and rank this one among the best. Chris very effectively organized his class to impart knowledge. He Starts with an overview and summary level walk thru of the process and then goes into details and does an actual retouch. He concludes with a lesson on what can go wrong and provides practice images. I highly recommend this class to anyone seeking to learn Dodge and Burn. Thank-you Chris for a great educational experience!