I’ve had the pleasure of using Exposure X for a couple of months now, and I love the new brush feature. Not only is it great for layering filters and effects, but it’s also pretty handy for portrait retouching. In this dodge and burn tutorial, I’ll show you how to use the brush tool in Exposure X to do global and local dodging & burning and give your portraits a beautiful, natural polished look.
Dodging and burning (D&B) is a technique where you selectively lighten (dodge) and darken (burn) areas of an image. In the case of a portrait, which is what I use in this article, this means areas of your subject’s face.
Global dodging and burning sculpts and contours the face in a similar fashion to makeup. Local dodging and burning happens at a micro level to even out the appearance of the skin. When performing either process, I suggest that you do local work first before moving to global. There are several methods you can use to apply dodge and burn to an image. The method I discuss in this dodge and burn tutorial is using a brush with a tone curve adjustment applied to it, similar to how I would do the same thing in Photoshop.
Let’s take a look at an image. This is a portrait I snapped of Emily at the end of a session. There is natural light coming from straight in front of her and the image, while nice, looks a bit flat.