View Full Version : How to Dodge and Burn in Artrage

10-08-2011, 12:22 PM
This tutorial is by NO MEANS intended as a comparison or suggested as a substitute for a virtual darkroom application such as Photoshop. Rather, the intention of this tutorial is simply to demonstrate how dodge and burn techniques can be accessed and utilised within ARTRAGE for the following reasons:-

Not everyone using Artrage has a copy of Photoshop
For a quick dodge or burn it can be handy not to have to open up another application
Having to constantly flip work between two applications can be disruptive
The undo system of Artrage can be preferable to the history palette within Photoshop, when screen real estate is an issue (laptop's, tabletPC's)
Artrage will dodge and burn in certain situations that Photoshop will not e.g. Artrage will dodge a black background area (0,0,0) if white (255,255,255) is set as the brush colour, Photoshop will not

The terms Dodge and Burn stem from darkroom techniques used in Photography to manipulate the exposure of certain areas of a negative to improve contrast. Dodging would decrease exposure to result in a lighter area and Burning would increase exposure to result in a darker area.

Many digital programs have tools that can mimic this process.

In a program such as Photoshop or Gimp one would choose the dedicated Dodge/Burn tool and then choose a brush head type (usually an airbrush).

In Artrage we do this in reverse by choosing the tool (brush head) first and then choosing the colour dodge/colour burn blend mode for that tool.

Artrage Dodge and Burn Tools
There are 3 tools in Artrage that support the colour dodge/colour burn blend modes:-

10-08-2011, 12:26 PM
Because dodge and burn come from photography, let's look at them in effect on a photo first.

Here is an example of a photo that is really lacking in contrast. Every part of this image effectively needs to be dodged and burned.

Note: in the 'After' image there's still not much differentiation in the foreground walls (circled).

Dodge and burn can be used on an airbrush to improve the contrast on specific areas.

Before doing this it's important to note a few things

Dodge/burn are effects that apply very quickly so its best to turn down the opacity of your tool in the settings dialog, with the airbrush it also helps to turn down the pressure. This will help you to build up the dodge/burn gradually
Each time you lift the stylus you are applying a new dodge/burn to whatever is on the canvas. Therefore a large flat area needs to be done in a single pass (without lifting the stylus).
Use multiple strokes where you want to increase lightness/darkness with each successive stroke.
Small dodge/burn touch ups can be applied directly to the image.
Images that require a lot of dodge/burn application to different areas can benefit from a non destructive dodge/burn layer.

10-08-2011, 12:30 PM
How to set up a non-destructive layer for Dodge/Burn.

Create a new empty layer above the layer that needs dodge/burn.
Select the 'Precise Colour Picker' set the Luminance Value = 50%, Saturation=0%. This will give you an exact 50% grey (it does not matter what value the Hue is set at).
Alternatively you can just plug in R=128, G=128, B=128 for a 50% grey.


As you work your Grey layer will become a dodge/burn map. Switch the layer blend mode back to 'Normal' on this layer to correct errors, perfect edges etc.


NOTE: You can use the eyedropper to select the dodge/burn greyscale values on this layer and then work with tools that don't support dodge and burn such as paint and blend tools.

Any value lighter than the 50% grey is a dodge, and values darker than the 50% grey are burn. Use the mid grey of 50% to correct edges or return to the default (i.e. no dodge/burn). Return the blend mode to 'Soft Light' when you are happy with your changes.

I'm not going to take this through to finished but will compare the changes applied thus far by the above 'Soft Light' Dodge/Burn non-destructive layer to the original version so that you can see the difference.


Obviously a lot more work would have to be done to rescue an image that was this bad to begin with, but you can really notice how the dodge/burn has brought out the three dimensionality of the foreground walls toward the center of the image. The highlights and shadows on the entrance side of the building also pop a lot more.

If you would like to explore the above method you can download the sample image used here:

10-08-2011, 12:33 PM
Beyond Photos

Because a digital photo is simply pixels, dodge and burn can be used in the same way to enhance contrast (highlights and shadows) in any digital imagery.

Here's a few ideas done directly on the image pixels without the use of a non-destructive layer :

In this example dodge/burn with a soft edged airbrush, low pressure, low opacity was used to transform
Shadow was done using Colour Burn on a separate layer underneath

10-08-2011, 12:38 PM

Dodge/burn metals with Ink Pen and Airbrush.


(For my Rabbit Hole Design and Abstract Loving Friends)


Forms dodged out of black background with white paint on low opacity Ink Pen set to colour dodge blend mode. Colour was then burnt in using either airbrush or Ink pen set to Colour Burn blend mode.

Glooping and dodging and burning


10-08-2011, 01:40 PM
Brilliant tutorial.Thank you, I will have to see whether this can be done on the iPad.

10-09-2011, 03:38 AM
Thank you!

The more I learn about ArtRage, the more I find I can adjust my photos in ArtRage alone. And you write splendid tutorials.

10-12-2011, 09:44 PM
OOH I like this I will have to try it out soon:):)

10-13-2011, 12:06 AM
That is so great and so well explained!
I hope the Ragers put this one on their front page !

Insanely cool !!:cool::cool::cool::cool::cool::cool::cool::cool: :cool::cool::cool::cool::cool::cool::cool:

10-13-2011, 12:35 AM
It does work on the IPad, Brilliant.
I have been playing with the dodge and burn tools on a portrait, it's much easier that trying to pick various shades of the same color.:D

10-13-2011, 02:49 PM
Incredible tutorial! Thank you! I completely missed the dodge and burn hiding in there ... very useful for tweaking!

Thanks again!

10-14-2011, 02:32 AM
I am reading this tutorial while sitting here at work. It just kills me that I cannot just get to Art Rage and start putting the info from this tutorial to work. Thank you so much for your sharing of this great information. :):):):)

03-09-2012, 09:07 AM
don't know how I missed this Juz.
awesome information in here. it is like four, at least, tutorials in one. great stuff. loved the sphere... a step by step there would be great, and the hair great too. that was so helpful to see. well it all is helpful. thank you for sharing. great tute.

03-11-2012, 06:23 PM
(For my Rabbit Hole Design and Abstract Loving Friends)

thanks a lot, Juz! :)
although I knew about those tools and their blend modes, I appreciate having read your tutorial as it makes things clear (sadly I am someone who tends to forget how to achieve a certain effect after playing with ArtRage's tools .. lol :confused:)

Steve B
04-16-2012, 11:57 AM
I was sort of curious when you might use Dodge and Burn, and when you would just paint what you wanted on another layer. I understand the benefits of the idea that its non-destructive. That seems very useful and important to me. But it seemed like something I could also do pretty well with layers. ?? What are the sort of situations or functions for when you might think, right off the bat, "Ah, time for Dodge (or Burn)"? Of course, tools can be used for all sorts of things, but as a beginner to this its nice to have a bit of guidance as to the "why" or "when" of its application versus other methods.

04-18-2012, 11:49 AM
Hi Steve... You would most likely use layer effects when you wanted to either dodge or burn more globally i.e. apply the effect to the entire layer.

These tools would be more likely used when you wished to apply a dodge or burn more locally... eg/ if i only wanted to darken part of the hair on a portrait or lighten a part of the eye where the light is reflecting etc.

A measure of more control is given with the tools than with using a layer effect.

04-20-2012, 06:47 AM
This was verry helpfull. This is what I did with the info you provided.


05-11-2012, 04:00 AM
Thanks for sharing your work Shadowslake, you're getting some really nice nuance of colour tones in what still clearly reads as a brown coloured iris.... Well done!! :)

Steve B
08-28-2012, 07:13 AM
I was curious about 2 things if anyone can help-- a comparison of certain blend modes, and why you fill with grey first.

So, first, the grey fill- if I just make a new layer and pick my blend mode, can I skip this step and just paint with varying degrees of grey to get the highlight/darkening effects I want? Is there a particular reason I should fill the layer first-- in terms of the final product I get? I understand it might be a different working method, which is fine... I'm just trying to understand if it's necessary???

Secondly, I was curious about the Layer Blend modes, and what the difference is between, say, Soft Light and Color Dodge and Color Burn. Am I understanding it right if I say that Soft Light includes the effects that you get in both Color Dodge and Color Burn, just limited and softened compared to each?

What I mean is that I can both highlight and darken an image's value in Soft Light, but, for example, I can never entirely "hide" or "erase" part of a lower layer when I paint on the Soft Light Layer, even if I use pure white. Alternately, it seemed like I actually could "erase" something from an image if I used Color Dodge and used pure white. Correct? I also saw, though, that Color Dodge and Color Burn are limited in what they can do-- basically each can only do one half of what Soft Light can do, but Soft Light can't go as pale nor as dark as either of the other two layer blend modes. Does that make any sense? I'm just trying to wrap my head around how these complicated Blend Modes work! :)

I made a simple image to try to illustrate what I'm trying to say.


08-28-2012, 09:48 PM

I'm sure juz (or another expert) can answer your questions more definitively, but here's how I've been investigating the rather complex world of Blend modes ...

Soft Light is a variation of Overlay ... Overlay is usually classified as a Contrastive mode, it increases contrast by eliminating 50% grey (by rendering 50% grey transparent), and Soft Light does the same, but reduces the contrast in Overlay by an additional factor, say 50%, resulting in slightly more transparent highlights and shadows (maybe that's why you chose Soft Light as your starting point, it could be a better Blend mode than Overlay for watercolor) ...

I've been investigating Overlay because I wanted to see for myself how Overlay behaves in AR, since most discussions of Blend mode are based on Illustrator or PS or other software and I only have ArtRage ... I wanted to apply what I learned to the iPad, my main platform ... And I only discovered juz's tutorial today when I saw your post ...

What you see in the attachment are three images created in Photoshop in the left-hand column (I give the source below) and each PS image recreated in AR for comparison ...

Each PS image consists of the same gradient grey, and below that three squares, black, 50% grey, and white ... The first image top left is in an upper layer in Normal mode and set against a blue background (in a base layer, as Background, not shown)... In the second PS image, the layer with the gradient and squares has been changed to Overlay mode, and you see the effects ... In the third PS image, layers have been switched, the blue Background has become the upper layer in Overlay mode, and the gradient and squares have become the Background (as base), and you see the results ...

On the right, each step is recreated in AR ... The AR comparison comes off pretty well for Overlay mode, the slippage you see in the AR images in the 50% grey squarea may be a result of my using the Color sampler with Fill tool to recreate the PS base blue in AR Studio Pro ... Switching Background or base layer to the upper layer also has interesting implications for the gradient grey ...

I thought you might be able to use this method as a way of beginning to answer some of the questions you posed about Soft Light ... As juz mentions, choice of tool can be a factor in AR, and this method eliminates the need to choose a tool and should allow direct comparison for all Blend modes in AR, if comparing AR with other software is the goal ...

Here is the source for the Photoshop images I imported into AR Studio Pro:

Steve B
08-31-2012, 03:30 AM
What a helpful response chinapete! :) I'm reading over it now, and exploring the link. Very informative, and an oft-underused element of the art program, or so it seems.