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Skin Retouching

Lesson 6 of 7

Dodge and Burn: Practical


Skin Retouching

Lesson 6 of 7

Dodge and Burn: Practical


Lesson Info

Dodge and Burn: Practical

We are going to start dodging and burning. Alright, so we are going to create a layer. We're going to fill this layer with 50% gray. Edit, Fill 50% gray and then we are going to name this layer, dodge and burn. We're going to change the Blend Mode of this layer from Normal to Soft Light. And because this layer is filled with 50% gray if I click on and off the visibility of this layer, you will not see a change at all because of the way the soft light Blend Mode interacts with 50% gray. Okay, you don't have to write that down but you won't see a change. Okay, so let's choose our Dodge and Burn colors. A lot of people will use the Dodge and Burn tools for this. I don't particularly use them I've literally painstakingly worked out all the kinks in the method that I use for dodge and burn and so I'm not really interested in changing it up. So what I'm going to do is I'm gonna look and I'm going to try and find a skin tone that is the brightest skin tone in the image. So that is right under...

neath this eyebrow right here you can see that that's definitely the brightest area. So now what I'm going to do is I'm going to lighten it a little bit, I'm going to subtract about 50% of the color from this color swatch. And then what I'm going to do is pull this a little bit closer to red. Because I know that this has the tendency of going too close to yellow. That dodging color tends to brighten things, but then it also shifts the colors that it's a little bit more yellow and I don't want that to happen. 'Cause then you're basically you're doing one thing you're trying to fix one thing in Photoshop and then it's like walking on the beach, in the sand, but then you're holding a broom behind you trying to get rid of your footsteps, right? Nobody has time to do a concept completely and then have to fix the problem that that one concept caused in the image. We don't have time for that. Alright, so this is a good dodge color. Now we need to find a burn color. So we're gonna click on our background color swatch box. We're gonna try and find a dark skin tone in the image. Please don't pick your models nose. Please don't pick the darkest area inside the nostril because I will tell you what happens when you do that. The nostril area is full of a lot more blood vessels and it's a lot more red, okay? So just don't pick your clients nose. Just don't do it it's bad manners, okay? So let's go ahead and click right here. So we have the darkest color of her skin. And then what I'm going to do is I'm going to decrease the brightness by about 50% by darkening it about halfway. And then I'm also gonna take 50% of the color out of this as well. Now because I know that this color tends to go more red when it interacts, I'm going to take this and I'm going to shift the color closer to yellow by adding a little bit more yellow to it. Okay, so we have our Dodge and Burn colors over here in our color swatch. So I'm gonna use my brush tool, I'm gonna use 10% opacity and 10% flow. And I have my dodge color. So I'm gonna start dodging areas. A good rule of thumb is if you see your brush strokes, your Opacity and Flow are too high. So you need to decrease them. And that's why this concept is extremely elusive for people to learn is because it's almost like no cause and effect. When you're trying to start learning it, and you're trying to figure out what it does, it's really, really tough to try and figure it out because you're not getting any immediate feedback, okay? So all the time I want you to go and I want you to look and keep clicking that layer on and off to see what you were able to do. Of this area here just to kind of smooth out some of the areas and again, create that illusion of more three dimension, than two dimension. Alright, so let's add a little bit of dodging as well. Whoops, I have to switch my colors! So I'm gonna start darkening certain areas that I want to push back. This is when you completely start to zone out (laughs) and just listen to your music and you just dodge and burn, dodge and burn. The reason why I like to use the exact same tool while dodging and burning is because if there's an area that I need fixing, because it's so minute, the differences if I literally take my eyes off of the thing that I'm trying to fix, I'm gonna lose it and then I won't be able to find it again. I'll be like, oh, I need to fix something. Let me go change my tool and then come, nope, lost it. So being able to just have your finger on your X key, which is gonna switch your foreground and background color is really going to help you stay on task. And it's going to really help keep you productive by doing this. So again, I'm just trying to create the illusion of more 3D from this image by brightening certain areas. Let's darken this crease right on the eye just a little bit. So again, just the same way we can do dodge and burn on skin, can you see the difference? So we're starting to get rid of some of those problem areas. Let me darken the... the neck right there. The other thing that's really really good to do is to dodge and burn in different zoom levels because at different zoom levels, different things are gonna kind of pop out at you. And another really important thing to take into account when you're dodging and burning is where is the light coming from? Because that is one of the most important things that you have Keep in mind, if your light is coming from one direction and you dodge and burn as if it's coming from another direction, you're gonna end up screwing with the reality of the image. So what you wanna do is you wanna really keep into, you wanna think about the fact so for this image specifically, it's not beauty lighting, it's not butterfly lighting, it's not Paramount, it's not coming from right here on her, right? The light is not coming from this direction, it's actually coming from this direction. Okay, so we need to keep that in mind. Let's go ahead and see if we can get rid of this ridge right here under the eye. Has that been bothering anyone else? So what I'm basically doing is darkening the area that was bright. Remember what I said about most problems in Photoshop can be fixed with either changing the brightness, darkness value or changing the color. Okay, not perfect, but it is better. So we can do it on the face but we can also do it on the body as well. So if I wanted to, I could kind of just come along this edge here and start to create the illusion of 3D on the limbs as well. And darken the hand, maybe bring it down just a little bit it's little bit high. So now let's add a little bit of a highlight. We're gonna hit X key. Let's see. See how that's starting to really create that 3D look. I think we need to add a little bit more burning on the skin up here. I mean, not on the skin on the face is what I meant. You're ready

Class Description


  • Confidently use professional techniques to retouch skin.
  • Understand why and when to retouch skin.


Skin, It’s one of the hardest things to retouch, but incredibly important to know how to do correctly, especially if you photograph people! The dreaded, plastic-like, over smoothed look, doesn’t work for any photographer and your clients definitely won’t be happy! Join professional retoucher, Kristina Sherk, as she devotes this class entirely to skin retouching done right. Not only will you learn the tried and tested​ professional techniques, but Kristina will also dive into "why" we retouch skin, which is just as important as the ‘how.” This class will teach you all the techniques you need to know, in order to take your portraits to the next level!


  • All level photographers and retouchers


Photoshop CC 2019


For the past 10 years, Kristina Sherk has been a high-end photo retoucher based out of Washington, D.C. She specializes in beauty retouching and has done work for many clients such as Time Inc., Hasselblad, Merz Aesthetic, and Cotton Incorporated. She loves “translating Photoshop” for people and subsequently, she’s a contributing author for educational publications like Shutter Magazine, Photoshop User Magazine and Lightroom Magazine. She is well-known for her online teaching, and you can find out more at


Shana J

Quick and to the point! I did learn a few things from the course. Thank you. My only issue is that the model's face was already for the most part blemish free and nearly perfect. It would be good to see these techniques done on " not so perfect" skin. Kristina even said that the model's skin was nearly perfect. So why not use an image where we can truly see the skin retouching process at work?

Wayra Sumaq

Amazing class. It would make my work so much easier. Kristina is a great teacher.

Wendy Garfinkel-Gold

Straight on information well-explained in an easy to follow manner. Great class - it was too short! Would like to check out her other classes!