Overlay Dodge and Burn



Dodging and burning with an overlay layer is probably an improvement over the normal dodge and burn tools.

In the good old days of darkrooms and chemicals and sensitive paper, photographers would cut holes in card to shine more image-light onto the paper (burning) OR hold back some of the image-light with bits of card or their hands (dodging).

OK so Paint Shop Pro has dodge and burn tools and a dodge blend mode layer and a burn blend mode layer.  But as you’re no doubt aware even with the best Wacom tablet in the world and the most skillful set of hands doing the driving, the flexibility of Paint Shop Pro’s brushes isn’t exactly the best.

Worry not, since help is at hand. 

If you visit the Blending Modes page, you’ll see the outcomes of using different blending modes.

Put simply, if you put a layer above an image this upper layer can be made to interact with the lower layer.  The outcome depends on the way in which Paint Shop Pro does some maths on the pixel values in the two layers.


Overlay Blend Mode


The overlay blend mode has three important features:-
  • If the pixel values in the top layer are 128, then there is no action on the lower layer.

  • If the pixel values in the top layer are less than 128 (ie towards black), then the lower layer is darkened.  The darker the top layer, the darker the image becomes ie just like “burning”.

  • If the pixel values in the top layer are more than 128 (ie towards white), then the lower layer is lightened.  The lighter the top layer, the lighter the image becomes ie just like “dodging”.
Let’s see how it works!  My son brought back this image from the Austrian Alps.  Typical image from this situation; JPG so no RAW or HDR rescue; bright sky; deep shadows – but at least the shadows are not totally blocked out and the highlights are not totally blown.


overlay original


Where We're Going


So let’s look at some results of some tests on the image before we look how it’s done.  I’ve “burned” and “dodged” some rectangular areas on the image to show how it works.

Burn

The areas have been burned by using overlaid shades of grey.  We’ll look at how we achieve these and the processes later in this tutorial; let’s just concentrate on the effects. Adding a value of 0 or pure black darkens the image; a process we call “burning”.  As the added value gets larger as we approach 128, the effect on the image becomes less; the image is “burned in” less.


overlay burn


Dodge


Similarly, adding a value of 255 or pure white lightens the image; a process we call “dodging”.  As the added value gets smaller from 255, as we approach 128, the effect on the image becomes less; the image is “dodged out” less.


overlay dodge


Let’s put the process into practice on the image.

Preparing An Image


Let’s put the process into practice on the image.

Layers > New Raster Layer and set its blending mode to Overlay and change its name to burn.

overlay materials palette
In the Materials Palette, choose mid grey 128, and in the Tools Toolbar the Fill tool.

To get mid grey if you’ve not got it in your custom colours (I have because of using this and similar processes), double-click on the foreground colour box to open the materials properties dialogue.



overlay properties










In the Red, Green, and Blue value boxes enter 128 in each.











Select your Burn layer, and fill the layer with the grey with the Paint Bucket Tool (outlined in light blue).  It looks as though nothing has happened, because in Overlay Blend mode 128 has no effect on the underlying layer.

Repeat the generation of the layer, but call this new layer dodge.  Again, it looks as though nothing has happened.


overlay toolbar

In the Tool bar choose the Paint Brush tool (outlined in red).

To set the brush size if you hold the <ALT> key and at the same time as drag the brush down the page, the brush increases in diameter, and if you drag the brush up the page, the brush decreases in diameter.

To get the best result with this technique, you really need a Wacom graphics tablet.  You should be able to control the amount of burning and dodging with Paint Shop Pro, but the brush variance is poor.  So this technique can enable you to make the best attempt.

At this point, you may need to go back to step one to check out how the image processing might proceed.

To increase the image density, choose the burn layer by clicking onto it, and paint on to the part of the image you want to darken using a grey paint colour with value less than 128.  The smaller the value the darker the image goes.

To decrease the image density, choose the dodge layer by clicking onto it, and paint on to the part of the image you want to darken using a grey paint colour with value greater than 128.  The larger the value the lighter the image goes.

Again you might want to go back to step one to check out the processing theory and step three to check out how to fine tune your shade of grey to match your “burn” or “dodge”.

overlay layers palette


You can follow your progress of your processing in the layers palette.

Straight away you have control over the density change you want to make.

Not satisfied with the changes, paint over the error in grey 128 and start again, or delete the layer entirely and insert a new raster layer with grey 128 fill.




I’m not saying my changes to the picture have created a masterpiece, but I’ve got a little more detail in the shadows and the sky is a little more inviting with the raster layers set to overlay.


overlay final image






Page Links

Overlay Blend Mode

Where We're Going


Preparing The Image








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