Photo Editing: Non Destructive Dodging

Usually while taking a photo the light and dark composition does not come the way we want. Photo editing software like Photoshop provides a tool called Dodging for lightening areas of photos. But this modifies your photos in a destructive manner by permanently changing the pixels in your image and hence not desirable as you cannot undo what you have edited. To get over this problem Photoshop also offers an editing process which is a non destructive method of Dodging. Let us see how this can be done after you have opened your image in Photoshop.

Step 1 - Open the New Layer Dialog Box

This step lets you add a specific transparent layer onto your image. To mention the specifications of the Layer you need to open the New Layer dialogue box by holding down the Alt key and clicking on the icon for New Layer in the Layer's Palette which you will find at the bottom of your screen. If you are a Mac user hold down the Option key instead of the Alt key.

Step 2 - Changing Mode to Overlay and Selecting 50% Gray

In the New Layer Dialog the Mode option at the bottom will show Normal by default. You need to change this to Overlay. As soon as you do this you will find a check box opening below which says "Fill with Overlay - neutral color (50% gray)". Click in the box to select this option. Mentioning a name in the Name field is optional. Click on OK to save your changes and exiting the dialog box.

Step 3 - Select White as the Foreground Color

Since you are Dodging you will be lightening certain areas in your photo for which you need to select white as the foreground color. Nearing the bottom of your Tool Palette you will see the icon which shows the foreground and background colors. By default Black would be the foreground color and to swap it to white press the X key.

Step 4 - Choose the Brush Tool and its Opacity

The process of lightening will be done by painting over the required areas in your photo with white. To do this you can choose the Brush Tool from the Tool Palette by clicking on its icon or pressing the B key. Dodging should be done gradually as when you build up the lightening in a particular area you will know exactly when to stop. For this you need to set a low Opacity for your Brush Tool. Once you have selected your Brush Tool, you will find an Options Bar on the top of your screen where you can lower the percentage in the Opacity option to 10 or 20%.

Step 5 - Change size of Brush and Start Painting

Adjust the size of your brush according to the size of area you will be working on. You can decrease the size of your brush by repeatedly pressing "Square Bracket" left key and to increase the size keep pressing the "Square Bracket" right key. Now start lightening in strokes by holding down the left button on your mouse.