Chapter 1 | Introduction 1 Videos (1:46m)
  • 01 - Introduction to Dodge & Burn
Chapter 2 | Tools & Techniques 8 Videos (2:18h)
  • 01 - Brush Techniques
  • 02 - The Dodge & Burn Tool
  • 03 - Soft Light Layer
  • 04 - Curves & Levels
  • 05 - Luminosity Dodge & Burn with Luminance Blending
  • 06 - Luminosity Dodge & Burn with Apply Image
  • 07 - Dodge & Burn RAW in Lightroom
  • 08 - Dodge & Burn RAW in Photoshop
Chapter 3 | Applications 4 Videos (1:32h)
  • 01 - Correct Highlights & Shadows
  • 02 - Retouch Small Details
  • 03 - Retouch Large Details
  • 04 - Clothing & Environments
Chapter 4 | Example 1 Videos (53:50m)
  • 01 - Complete Dodge & Burn Retouch
Catalog  >  PRO Tutorials  >  Photoshop Tutorials  >  How to Master Dodging & Burning in Photoshop



How to Master Dodging & Burning in Photoshop

About this Class

Dodging and burning in Photoshop is a staple technique for professional photographers and retouchers. In this tutorial, you will learn how to sculpt highlights and shadows to add dimension, remove blemishes, and guide the eyes of the viewer to the most important parts of a photo.

What’s Included

14 Video Tutorials   |   13 Sample Images   |   Custom Photoshop Brush

Instructor & Featured Artist

Aaron Nace – Class Instructor   |   Lydz Leow – Featured Artist

Get Started Here: Pick Your Option
Starting at $8.25/month – Unlimited Streaming
$49.99/once – Instant Download

Master Dodging & Burning



Learn to Enhance any Photo

Add shape, add definition, and keep the viewer’s eyes locked on to your subject.

Sculpt Highlights & Shadows



What is Dodging & Burning?

Dodging and burning is the art of sculpting and enhancing the highlights and shadows that wrap around your subject. The techniques in this tutorial will help you accentuate shape and add dimension so that your photos pop off the page (or the screen).

How to Dodge & Burn in Photoshop

In the early days of photography, dodging and burning was done by hand in the darkroom. Now with Photoshop, we have the ability to paint with light, brightening highlights or darkening shadows with a few precision brush strokes.

Portraits & Landscapes

Whether you’re shooting sweeping landscapes or intimate portraits, we’re certain that our dodging and burning workflow will help bring your vision to life. Learn how to use highlights to keep the attention on your subject and use shadows to add depth and detail to landscapes and environments.



Add Shape & Definition

Whether you’re taking an athletic portrait and want to emphasize a person’s form and musculature, or you’re a product photographer that needs to accurately represent how a product would look and feel in real life, this tutorial will help you add shape and definition to nearly anything.

Small Details

We take you down to the pixel level to remove small blemishes and distractions while keeping the original textures in tact. Most blemishes can be fixed by simply reducing or removing some of the harsh shadows that they create. Learn to zoom in and retouch these delicate areas with powerful dodge and burn techniques.

Large Details

Learn how to look at the big picture, tackling larger areas of highlight and shadow so that your images look great on mobile devices, Instagram, and other social media. Learn to enhance facial structure, body shape, and tackle harsh transitions between highlight and shadow.



Draw Attention

Have you ever looked at a photo and were unsure of where your eyes were supposed to focus? Dodging and burning can help the important parts of an image stand out. Learn how to use highlight and shadow to draw more attention to your subject for a more powerful image.

Correct Highlights & Shadows

Things don’t always turn out perfect after a photoshoot. Even with great lighting, your shots still might have some exposure issues that need fixing in Photoshop. Dodging and burning can help bring back detail, balance exposure, and create more dimension in your subject.

Clothing & Environments

Dodging and burning is traditionally done on people and portraits, but it can make a huge difference in a variety of other photos. We show you how to apply dodging and burning techniques to a number of situations like adding beautiful detail to folds in fabric and adding depth to a landscape.



Remove Blemishes

When people hear ‘blemish removal’ they often think of the Healing Brush Tool or the Clone Stamp Tool as the go-to methods for retouching. There’s a better way! In this tutorial, we break down how to use dodging and burning and RAW processing to remove blemishes by simply adjusting only the light levels in a photo.

Highlights & Shadows

Dodging and burning starts by analyzing how the light is interacting with your subject in an image. Where are the brighter areas? How about the darker areas? We show you what to look for when identifying where to dodge and burn. Then you can follow along as we plan our edits for each image and take you through the process, step-by-step.

Tools & Techniques

Follow along as we cover all of the tools that you’ll need to master for effective dodging and burning. Learn how to use the Brush Tool, Dodge & Burn Tool, Adjustment Layers, Blending Modes, and learn how to process RAW images in both Photoshop and Lightroom.



Preserve the Original Details

Learn how to dodge and burn down to the pixel level, adjusting areas of light and dark to reduce and remove small blemishes while keeping the natural skin texture in tact.

Dodge vs. Burn

Dodging is all about the highlights. Looking for brighter areas of your subject and making them slightly brighter. Burning is all about the shadows, which involves darkening the dark areas. Combining both methods creates increased contrast around the edges and curves in an image, adding a whole new dimension to your photos.


Learn how to get the most out of your photos, whether you’re working with an 8-bit JPEG or in 16-bit RAW. We even show you a professional RAW processing workflow in both Photoshop and Lightroom.

Instructor & Featured Artist

Aaron Nace

PHLEARN Founder – Class Instructor

Aaron Nace is a photographer, Photoshop artist and founder of PHLEARN. He is the #1 Photoshop instructor in the world with millions of YouTube subscribers.

Lydz Leow

Photographer//Designer – Featured Artist

Lydz’s body of work explores the expressions in masculunity and femininity through her funky perspective with light. Fascinated by the architecture of human form, her images often present a subtle touch of delicacy while discovering the beauty within flaws
View Lydz’s Portfolio


  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Not enough stars to rank this one. The trick of applying an image to a layer mask opens up a whole new world. I simply assigned a function key that I don’t use as a keyboard shortcut. Easier to remember and use than hitting multiple keys simultaneously .

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    thank you

  3. Rated 5 out of 5


  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    I learned so much thanks for all the wonderful info you are a fantastic teacher

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    Incredible!!! Complete, more than enough tools, great instructor!! Thank you!!

  6. Rated 5 out of 5

    Muito bom! Great!

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    I thought I knew everything about Dodging and Burning……… Digging this tutorial. I really enjoyed learning from the video on D&B a raw image in Photoshop

  8. Rated 5 out of 5

    Los contenidos de este tutorial son fantásticos, el aprendizaje es sencillo de entender gracias ha Aaron, genial instructor, estoy encantado con la suscripción PHLEARN pro

  9. Rated 5 out of 5

    absolutely AMAZING!!!! great and simple ways of explaining everything, so glad i saw these!!!!!

  10. Rated 5 out of 5

    Another great tutorial from the Master! Thanks for not only showing me techniques I didn’t know, but also for helping me better understand the ones that I do know. I appreciate your patience and thoroughness, Aaron!!

  11. Rated 5 out of 5

    Another excellent, knowledge packed Phlearn Tutorial. Plhearn has been instrumental in honing my skills as a photographer and retoucher. Thank You, and keep up the great work.

  12. Rated 5 out of 5

    Great tutorial, Aaron! Thank you! I appreciate everything one is able to do with luminosity.

  13. Rated 5 out of 5

    Loved this tutorial! Aaron is the best instructor, breaks it all down into easy to understand pieces, shows while he talks and knows the fine line between letting us get to know him and being too chatty. This, like all the phlearn tutorials, was perfect! Thanks for continuing to create and share these with us 🙂

  14. Rated 5 out of 5

    Again another great tutorial. I especially loved the Apply Image method and the Lightroom Luminosity mask

  15. Rated 5 out of 5

    Loving the luminosity dodging & burning .. very subtle. Great tutorials as always.

  16. Rated 5 out of 5

    Wow I nearly passed on the D&B as I thought I’d got that squared away. Clearly not. Great tutorial with a great wealth of information. It was very clear information and great images to show Many complexities and variation.

  17. Rated 5 out of 5

    Aaron, I’m an avid fan of your tutorials and have learned a great deal from them. I have noticed a new video technique you’ve incorporated in the last several tutorials that is a little distracting. When you start with the overall view of you talking to the camera that’s great. I feel you’re talking directly to me and your animated facial expressions make your point very well. However, when you cut to the 3/4 view, you are still talking to the camera in front of you and there is no eye contact from this second view. It’s distracting to watch your videos this way. May I suggest if you feel the need to “mix it up,” that you actually record the 3/4 view separately with eye contact to the viewer. I actually don’t mind seeing the entire video(s) from the one straight on vantage point. For me, when I see the angle of view switch and you’re still looking forward, it throws me off and I find myself concentrating less on what you’re saying and more on the distraction and disconnect of the alternate camera angle.

  18. Rated 5 out of 5

    Wow! I just had a thousand questions answered with this tutorial. It’s worth the price of PRO just to get this alone, but happily I get it all! LOVE LOVE LOVE your tutorials.

  19. Rated 5 out of 5

    Another great tutorial Aaron. You’re a mine of information. Particularly like adding the more advanced D&B tools to my arsenal as I was unaware of them. Thanks again for a great tutorial on a hugely important subject. PS Small point (and open to correction), but you say when using the dedicated dodge and burn tools that you cannot use them on a new layer so they are destructive but I’m pretty sure you can use the ‘50% gray layer with a soft light blending mode’ method and use them non-destructively.

  20. Rated 5 out of 5

    Good tutorial I use Dodge and Burn on some of my landscape photos it makes the photos more interesting.


This tutorial includes 13 sample images, 14 video tutorials and a Dodge & Burn Photoshop Brush. Download the sample images and assets at the top of the page.

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If you need to learn the basics of Photoshop, we recommend watching the Photoshop Basics Collection and Photoshop 101-301 to familiarize yourself with all of the tools and capabilities that the software has to offer.

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