Dodging and burning is an essential technique in any retoucher’s toolkit. However, it can be a somewhat tricky method to grasp at first. While there are common mistakes that can be apparent right from the start, such as too much of the effect applied, or overuse of global dodging and burning, there remain other more subtle aspects. Their final impact after spending hours retouching a photograph, however, is not so subtle.
In today’s video, Kayleigh June shares five of the top mistakes that retouchers often make when dodging and burning their photographs.
1. Zooming In Too Close. If you’ve ever heard of the term “pixel peeping,” then you understand what the issue is here. If you work at 100% or greater while performing local dodging and burning, you will spend an excessive amount of time, only to discover that you’ve either had minimal impact or have removed texture to the point of making skin appear waxy.
Try not to work zoomed in too close, especially if you’re working with high megapixel images.
Editor’s Tip: One way to avoid this issue, is to have two windows open while you work, with one zoomed in, while the other is zoomed out. To set this up, go to Window > Arrange > New Window For <File Name>. After that, click on Window > Arrange > 2-up Vertical. Zoom or fit the two images as you’d like, and you’ll find that this is a great method to avoid over-retouching.
2. Dodging Only. Relying only on brightening areas of the photograph without darkening where needed (burning) can result in skin looking inaccurately light, as well as lacking any depth or contrast. Balancing out midtones and shadows with an appropriate amount of burning will drastically improve the overall look of the photograph.
RELATED: Master Dodge & Burn Video Course
3. Not Taking Regular Breaks. When you feel like you’re on a roll while retouching, you can sometimes spend too much time with one image, and overdo it. It’s important to take regular breaks so you can revisit the picture with fresh, rested eyes.
4. Dodging Too Many Dark Areas. This one is relatively common and involves dodging midtone / shadow areas and causing an unrealistic luminosity, or making skin texture appear flat. Areas of the photograph that have more shadows should be appropriately tended to with burning, to avoid muddying these transitional areas.
5. Dodging Highlights Excessively. With the widespread popularity of highlighted skin for a more dewy look, this has become a widely popular approach to retouching. While it can be stylistic, it tends to lead toward skin appearing oily rather than fresh, and overall makes the photograph appear less realistic.
Watch Kayleigh’s video below to see examples of these common mistakes, so you can further understand why they should be avoided.