Catalog > Photoshop Actions > Smart Dodge & Burn Photoshop Action
PHLEARN Dodge & Burn Photoshop Action Thumbnail

Smart Dodge & Burn Photoshop Action


With our Smart Dodge and Burn Photoshop Action, get professional-grade results in a fast, intuitive, and highly-customizable package.

Dodging and Burning is an extremely powerful technique that can sculpt, contour, and enhance the details of your subject. Our Actions are designed to speed up workflow for retouchers of all skill levels while helping beginners understand the method.

What’s Included

15 Photoshop Actions | 2 Sample Images | Quick Install Guide →

Get Started Here: Pick Your Option
$9.95/mo – Access all our classes & actions
$9.99 – Instant Download

Smart Dodge & Burn

“Traditional” dodging and burning is the process of making areas of your photos lighter and darker to create depth and draw attention to areas of an image. This method requires a great deal of skill to improve a photo.

We developed “Smart” Dodging & Burning to make the process more accurate, less destructive and easier. This exclusive action set narrows down burning to just the shadows and dodging to just the highlights of an image, making the process of sculpting light simple.

PHLEARN Dodge & Burn Before After

How to dodge & burn to your photos

The Smart Dodge & Burn Action makes dodging and burning simple. Simply press “play” on one of fifteen included actions to lighten or darken your image.

After pressing play you will see on-screen instructions guiding you to paint white on the layer mask where you want the effect to appear. If you want the effect to disappear, paint black on the layer mask.

This process is simple and can be mastered in just a few minutes.

Quick Tip: Use multiple dodge and burn levels to add drama to your photos.

PHLEARN Dodge & Burn Photoshop Action Before After

Tips & Tricks

Dodging & Burning is simply making areas of a photo either lighter or darker, the real magic is the technique of how dodging and burning is applied to a photo. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get started.

Think Large and Small
Dodging and burning can be used in small detail areas like eyes, lips and skin to even light and dark spots and draw more attention to key features.

You can also use dodging and burning on a large scale to add highlights or shadows to an entire person or background.

Mix Up Brush Size & Flow
When working on small detailed areas, be sure to use a small soft-edged brush for accuracy. When working on larger areas, use a larger brush.

To make the application more subtle, try using a low flow with the brush tool. This will let you slowly build up an effect rather than applying the full strength in one click. We recommend a brush flow around 20%.

Mix & Match Layers
The Smart Dodge & Burn action creates new layers that are named with the strength of the effect, for instance “D&B Darken -0.50”

Use multiple layers to bring out more detail in your photo. In the included PSD files you can see how multiple layers are brought together to make the portrait stand out.

Change Opacity to Lower Effect
If you find that the lighten or darken effect is a bit too strong, don’t forget you can simply lower the opacity of the layer to make the changes more subtle.

Photoshop Actions,Lightroom Presets & PRO Tutorials are included in your PRO Membership.

Learn More

Photoshop Actions
Quick Installation Guide

Installation takes just a couple of minutes.

Included Actions

Smart Dodge & Burn Darken -1.75
Smart Dodge & Burn Darken -1.50
Smart Dodge & Burn Darken -1.25
Smart Dodge & Burn Darken -1.00
Smart Dodge & Burn Darken -0.75
Smart Dodge & Burn Darken -0.50
Smart Dodge & Burn Darken -0.25
Smart Dodge & Burn Lighten +0.25
Smart Dodge & Burn Lighten +0.50
Smart Dodge & Burn Lighten +0.75
Smart Dodge & Burn Lighten +1.00
Smart Dodge & Burn Lighten +1.25
Smart Dodge & Burn Lighten +1.50
Smart Dodge & Burn Lighten +1.75
Smart Dodge & Burn Lighten +2.00


  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    you have an issue with this tutorial…there is only a beginners video about “Actions” installation

    Aaron Nace – Class Instructor
    Thanks for your comment, this page is for a Photoshop Action. If you are looking for a Dodge & Burn Tutorial, please see How to Master Dodging & Burning in Photoshop. I will work on making this page more clear, thanks!
  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    I can’t watch the video. All i can watch is the installation video. Please fix asap

    PHLEARN Staff
    Thanks for your comment Jamil, this product is a Photoshop Action for Dodge and Burn. The video at the top is to help with installing the Photoshop Action.
  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    Definitely a great tool, I love it

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    You guys simply kick ass!!!

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    Brilliant! So simple and easy to implement. Just click, brush, and you’re done!

  6. Rated 5 out of 5

    Super simple but incredibly helpful to my workflow. Thanks Phlearn!

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    Great action! I appreciate that Phlearn listens to their users and provides great tutorials as well as useful tools such as these LR/Ps presets and actions. You have made me a loyal PRO subscriber!


The actions included in this set are compatible with Adobe Photoshop CS5, CS6, CC, & 2017CC. All the included actions will work with JPG as well as RAW images.

Installation takes just a couple of minutes. Check out our Photoshop Actions Quick Installation Guide.

Photoshop Actions are a series of steps that have been recorded by their creator. This sequence of steps can then be reapplied at any time, which allows you to recreate the end result without having to go through each individual step every time. Think of them as short cuts.

A basic understanding of Photoshop is suggested. We designed the Photoshop Actions to be as simple as possible. After loading the Actions into Photoshop, simply double-click on the action to apply it to your photo.

PHLEARN Photoshop Actions are created by PHLEARN founder Aaron Nace.

Yes! Each of our Photoshop Actions creates a new group in your layers panel. Feel free to stack as many actions together as you please.

Due to the downloadable nature of this product, there are no refunds. All sales are final.

You may only use these products for personal or professional use. This license extends to the single, individual purchaser. This license does not extend to companies or partner- ships and may not be resold, loaned, and/or gifted to another individual and/or party. You may not share, loan or redistribute/sell or copy any of these files in any way. All Actions by PHLEARN are copyright protected.