A grayscale soft light layer dodge and burn with Paint Shop Pro is
really easy and very, very effective.
Dodging and burning is a great technique to either darken or lighten an
area of an image. Paint Shop Pro includes dodge and burn tools
and they do an acceptable job - but there is a much better way to
achieve the same results.
The most effective tools to use is a Wacom tablet which changes size or opacity with pressure - theyre a dream to use!
The technique is exactly the same as it is for a color image and they
are used to change local ares of an image rather than the complete
Let's do it ...
Using A Soft Light Layer
is the image that needs a major grayscale soft light dodge and burn.
These two guys are enjoying a tasty and nutritious snack from a street
hot dog vendor.
The burning question is this - will some grayscale soft light dodging
and burning give this image some life?
You bet it will ...
As a review - here are the steps to follow ...
Create a new Soft Light Raster Layer.
Set the Foreground and Background colors to Black and
White in the Mixer Palette.
Select the Paint Brush Tool and set the Brush
change Opacity with Pressure (if you are smart Paint Shop Pro user with
With this image the foreground color was set to white
dark area of the black jacket were dodged using light pen pressure.
Here is the jacket detail with half of the jacket dodged and the other
half not yet adjusted.
The difference is not particularly dramatic and that is the nature of
dodging and burning - a small change will go a long, long way.
Notice that there are no ugly lines separating the different brush
strokes and that is mostly due to using a pen tablet with opacity as
the brush dynamic.
Now on to the rest of the image ...
The really neat thing about the grayscale soft light dodge and burn
technique is that details that are
lost - things you may not even be aware of - can be restored
with a few brush strokes on a soft light layer.
Here is a portion of the image to the left of the guy with the black
jacket - the one on the left is obviously the original image and the
one on the right has been dodged ...
Big difference, right?
The dodged image now has some detail, including:
The proprietor of the tasty hot dogs and sausages
wearing spiffy shades and hiding behind a glass case.
A variety of un-cooked hot dogs and sausages on
A clock to the right of the proprietor.
Detail in the jacket and is that the beginning of a
bald spot on the back of his head?
Enough suspense - how do the original image and the corrected image
compare after some grayscale soft light dodging and burning?
The Original Image
Soft Light Dodge and Burn
Well - there certainly is a difference, isn't there?
The new image, however, is kind of flat, kind of lifeless.
Sure - there is more detail but it needs something else ...
As you become more proficient with Paint Shop Pro you begin to realize
that the different techniques do not live in isolation.
By that I mean the application of the grayscale soft light dodge and
burn makes a big difference in local areas of the image (some areas are
darker and others are lighter) but an additional adjustment is
needed to give this image some
pop, some life. If Paint Shop Pro had a decent Histogram
function then we could look at that to decide what more is needed.
Ya - there is a Histogram in Paint Shop but it leaves a lot to be
desired (Adobe has great histograms in both Photoshop and Elements).
Here is the Historgram for the adjusted image ...
What the histogram is telling us is that most of the pixels in the
adjusted image are clumped at the Shadow (left) edge of the image with
some in the mid-tone area and a few in the highlight area.
Unless you are going for a special effect then this histogram is
associated with a rather flat and boring image.
if you want to
understand more about Histograms,
and it is a good idea, then visit the Histogram page.)
Luckily we have a whole host of additional adjustments to fix this
problem with Levels or Curves being the best choices and these
adjustments affect the complete image.
This is the Levels dialogue for this image. With a Levels
adjustment one is normally looking to move the shadow and highligh
sliders in to meet the histogram but with this image the histogram does
stretch from the shadows to the highlights.
We want to lighten the image somewhat and moving the highlight (right)
slider would insure that some of the image would go to pure white with
no detail at all - not good.
The solution is to move the mid-point slider (the middle one) to the
left and watch the effect on the image - and here it is ...
The Levels Adjustment
The mid-point slider moved from
128 (middle gray) to 102.
The image after adjusting the
The new histogram
This is an improvement, for sure.
Now - how about trying a Curves Adjsutment on the grayscale soft light
The curves adjsutment layer may be the most powerful of the adjustments
available and any Paint Shop Pro'er who wants to create great images
needs to understand and use Curves!
Here is the Curves Adjustment Layer dialogue ...
This is not a tutorial on Curves - that can be found right here - Curves
In the image the shadows are fine while the mid-tones and highlights
are not as pronounced as they can be.
To add more life to the highlights and mid-tones a point was placed on
the diagonal line half way up and that part of the curve was moved up.
This will lighten things nicely.
To keep the shadows the way they are a second point was placed on the
line at the bottom left and then it was pulled down just a bit creating
a slight S-curve.
These two small adjustments will make a dramatic difference in the
The Curves Adjustment The adjustment is a slight "S" shape which
increases the contrast of an image
The modified image
The Curves Histogram
To me it seems that the image modified with a Curves Adjustment Layer
has more life - more pop than any of the other images and that is
because it has more contrast.
When you think about it - contrast is what makes an image interesting
and using Curves is the best way to add contrast.
Here are the three images - the dodge and burn image, the levels
adjusted image and the curves adjusted image.
Layer Dodge and Burn
With a Levels Adjustment
With a Curves Adjustment
The best image of the three? You choose but I think the
Curves image has the best contrast.
This simply proves that more than one adjustment is often necessary to
produce the best image and that means it is good to know how to use the
different tools available in Paint Shop Pro.
There you go - a grayscale soft light adjustment and some additional
modifications to give an image some pop.
Dodge and Burn
Dodging and Burning
burning are terms used in photography for a technique used
during the printing process to manipulate the exposure of a
selected area(s) on a photographic print deviating from the rest of the
Dodging decreases the exposure for areas of the print that
the photographer wishes to be lighter, while burning
increases the exposure to areas of the print that should be darker.
and burning to an art form. Many of his famous prints
were manipulated in the darkroom with these two techniques.
a comprehensive book on this very topic called The Print.
(Source - Wikipedia)
A grayscale soft light layer for dodge and burn affects only a small
portion of the image and is used to
Make a dark area
Make a light area
Remove bags under
details like eyelashes
Tone down excessive
red on the nose or cheek or chin