6.2 Dodging and burning
Dodging and burning are terms left over from when photos were developed using chemicals in a darkroom. The terms mean to make a part of an image lighter or darker, respectively. They can be used to smooth out shadows or enhance bright reflections. The idea is to use contrast as a guide to lead your audience through your image.
You must first setup your graph to dodge and burn. Add a Paint Canvas and Blend node to your graph. Connect the image you want to dodge and burn to the Paint Canvas node’s input Image anchor and also to the Blend Node’s Destination input anchor. Then connect the Paint Canvas node’s output Image anchor to the Blend node’s Add Source anchor. Set the Blend node’s new Mode field to “Overlay.” Don’t forget to connect the Blend node’s output Image anchor to the rest of your graph or the Render node if you are inserting these nodes at the end.
With the graph setup, you’ll notice that your image will appear much brighter. This is caused by the white Paint Canvas image being blended using the “Overlay” Mode. Overlay preserves the extremely bright or dark tones in the bottom image (the Destination in this case) when blending with the top image (the Source in this case). The remaining tones in the bottom image gravitate away from 50% neutral to become brighter or darker but it’s the top image that controls the final blended color. A tone in the top image of 0% becomes darker, 100% becomes lighter, and 50% is left unchanged.
Select the Paint Canvas node, click the Brush tool on the Tools Toolbar, change the brush color to 50% grey, and then fill the entire Canvas by painting. You will probably want to increase the brush Radius to fill the Canvas quickly. Your input image should now look unchanged.
Now you can finally dodge and burn your image. Just paint with a light grey or white to dodge (brighten) and a dark grey or black to burn (darken). You’ll want to set the brush Opacity to 2.0% or less and set Hardness to 0. Start with a large brush Radius and build up changes slowly. As you make progress, shrink the brush Radius and then paint in any smaller detail. Where you should dodge or burn is up to you but try to manage contrast in order to conceal or accentuate different parts of your image.
SubtletyIf your dodging and burning looks too strong, you can lower the alpha on the Blend node to make it look more subtle.