Dec 02, 2013

Color Dodging in Photoshop

Using Photoshop to Color Dodge

In this episode, we use an image taken by a member of our Phlearn phamily to show some cool color dodging techniques.

Color Tone Highlights

If you have ever taken a photo that was exposed well for your subject but overexposed for the sky, this episode provides a great solution. Instead of trying to Composite another sky into the photo, we use Curves to Color the Highlights of the image.

To make sure the Coloring just effects the highlights of the image we use “Blend If” in the layer blending options. “Blend If” allows you to choose how to blend a layer with your image, making that layer visible in the Highlight or Shadow range. In this case, we slide the left side of the bottom slider to make this layer not visible in the Shadow range. Be sure to hold ALT/OPTN while dragging to feather the effect and make it more seamless.

Color Dodge

A great way to add interest to a photo with a Light source (such as a sun or lamp) is to use the Color Dodge blending mode. First choose a soft edge Brush and lower your Flow to about 10%, then hold ALT/OPTN to sample a Color that already exists near your Highlight range. Once you have a Color you’re happy with, paint over the highlighted areas and change the blending mode of the layer to “Color Dodge”.
Using this method is great for adding interest to your Highlights because the Colors will blend together well, making the effect look more natural.

Feel free to use a Layer Mask to define which areas of the photos will receive the highlight effect and which areas will remain hidden.

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  • user image

    When you apply color to just the highlights. What is the difference between using the layer style like you did in this video compared with image>apply image?


    • user image
      Brian Baker

      I imagine it’s easier to go in an tweak it through the layer style if you need to make an adjustment later?

    • user image
      Jim Johnson

      Apply image is less adjustable. Once it is applied, that is what you get. Using the blending sliders allows you to adjust and re-adjust. It also allows you to affect only a specific luminance range by moving both half of the sliders.

  • user image
    Ian G

    The part of the rock to the left of the subject just looks weird. It looks like some light should be spilling into that area a bit more, no?

  • user image
    Pascal Frey

    aaron, I really do like the ‘levels’-color grading (blue/yellow). you do that quite often and i tried it as well, but i noticed when printing that the photo gets a bit milky. any suggestions or tips? thx in advance

  • user image
    Bill Young

    Aaron – I am always blown away with the color work you do, and would like to increase my “color IQ.” Do you have any suggestions on books or other references to help with color theory?