What if you desire to resolve a part of photo that to be overexposed or underexposed? probably you want to draw emphasis come a certain component of her photo. What about when you forget to use a lens hood and also stray light makes it into your photo? If any type of of this scenarios sound familiar, girlfriend should think about using the dodge and burn devices that come v Adobe Photoshop Elements. Right here are a couple of things you can do through them.

You are watching: What does the burn tool do in photoshop

If you prefer to watch and also listen rather than read, clock the video below on the Dodge, Burn and also Sponge tools..

What do dodge and burn do?

The terms dodging and burning comes from film photography. In the procedure of developing an image, the photographer had the ability to lighten or darken certain areas. It’s specifically the exact same in Photoshop Elements. The dodge tool lightens while the burn tool darkens.

There space a variety of applications because that dodging and burning. It’s frequently used to correct parts of an image that were no exposed correctly. It’s additionally used because that a unique creative effect (more on the later).

In Photoshop Elements, girlfriend can uncover the dodge and also burn tools close to the bottom of the toolbar top top the left side of the screen. They occupy the same menu as the sponge tool.


Once you have actually selected either tool, you deserve to pick a brush size, a range, and also an exposure percentage. All of this is located in the upper toolbar.


The range selection allows you to emphasize details areas. Stop say, because that example, the you want to lighten only the shadows in your image. You can do the by choosing the dodge tool and picking “shadows” as your range.

It’s also great to understand what the exposure number does. Just put, it identify the strength of the dodge/burn effect. I choose to pick smaller sized values because that this due to the fact that it lends more subtlety to the effect. I typically select a value in between 15% and 50%.

Using the burn tool to resolve exposure issues

Have a look at the adhering to image. Go anything seem amiss?

Photo By: Ted Bendixson

The bottom left hand edge has a strange pink haze. Girlfriend can get rid of that fog by making use of the burn tool and selecting “midtones.” The key to getting this one appropriate is to save your exposure setup low. I noticed the the logs begin to blacken as I use the burn effect, and you desire this to look as natural as possible. Too lot intensity, and fifty percent of the log transforms black if the other half turns white.

Here is the finished result:


As you deserve to see, it looks a lot more even and balanced.

Using the burn device to emphasize a subject

Let’s speak you desire to offer your subject pop out just a little bit more. You can use the burn tool to perform that. Have actually a look at this little photo taken with Instagram.


It’s currently pretty cool top top its own, but we could probably do much more to emphasize the main subject. For this reason we’ll just use the burn tool on the darker sections.

Here’s the same photograph after burning:


As you can see, it’s considerably different. I type of go overboard to display you what’s possible. All the confusing tangle of wires below has been changed with complete and also total darkness. The other airbrushes space still there, however they sink right into the darkness as well.

I yes, really love the burn device in black and also white photography. Due to the fact that there is no color, you can acquire away with a lot much more visual tricks favor this one.

Using the dodge tool to resolve underexposed portrait photos

The following time you take it a portrait photo, and also it turns out a tad underexposed, don’t fret. You can use the dodge device to brighten up the areas you desire to emphasize. Let’s begin out v this photograph from a Flickr User.

Photo by Flickr User s.ho

It’s currently pretty good, however it does feel a small dark. Using a small brush and also the evade tool, you have the right to pick out the locations you want to brighten. In this image, I simply stuck to the couples’ faces, going because that a relatively even and also overall brightening of the photo. Notice their faces and under your chins isn"t therefore dark.

Here’s the result:


Now that a lot much less dark. Be mindful with the dodge tool. It can easily whiten picture much more than you will do like. If you’re walking to use it, ns would indicate keeping the exposure choice low prefer 10%.

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The dodge and burn tools were useful earlier in the heyday of movie photography, and also they’re still beneficial today. Provide them and also a try, and also I think you’ll choose the results.