Tutorial by Ona (wombat146)

With the Dodge and Burn tools you need to be working on the actual layer which isn't very helpful if you need to start again.

Using the Fill Layer @ 50% Gray technique is a quick and easy way to get the same effect, and you are working on a separate layer so you can always get rid of it and start a new one if you need to.

Dodge and Burn is a great tool to add depth to an object by accentuating the light and dark tones.

It is also a handy tool to lighten or darken parts of a photo, you know, the ones where part of the photo is in heavy shade and other in bright sunlight. This technique allows you to balance the shadings up a bit........... it won't make it perfect but you can subdue the darker shadows and darken the lighter shadows.

In the example below I used the Fill Layer @ 50% function to add depth to this material flower.

Free Spirits Elements by Dawn Inskip

You can see the added depth in the flower on the right, compared to the original on the left.

Steps to use this technique:

1 Add a new layer above the object or photo layer.

2 Working on the new layer - click Edit>Fill Layer......

3 Under the Contents heading, select Use: 50% Gray.

4 Your layer will now be filled with gray.

5 Change the layer Blend Mode to Soft Light in the Layers panel.

6 Clip the Fill Layer to the object layer (as shown in the image below).

7 The fun part! Using a soft brush (Airbrush is great for this technique) at low opacity, use black or white to either darken or lighten parts of your object or photo. Always start with a low opacity (20%) and only increase it slowly. You may need to go over the area a few times to get the right shading. Also remember to zoom in to get a better view.

Of course if you make a mess on the Fill layer, you can always get rid of it and start again!

8 Now just simply start to 'paint' in where you want the darker or lighter shading to be. In the flower example above I simply accentuated the already light and dark areas of the flower to give it just a bit more depth.

9 To go one step further, duplicate the flower layer and move it above the Fill Layer, change the blend mode to Soft Light. Play with the opacity to give the flower just a bit more ooomph!  I almost always do this step with my main elements on a layout.


10 I also added a blank layer under the original flower layer and 'painted' in a shadow. Start with a low opacity black brush and just dab some pale colour around the outside of the flower. Increase the opacity of the brush and then just dab right up underneath the flower........... virtually mimicking the shadows in real life.

This is how the Layers Panel is looking:

Working from the bottom to the top it shows the original flower layer which has the Fill Layer above it. The duplicate copy of the flower layer at Soft Light 100% and the Drop Shadow layer under the original flower layer.


It's a very versatile technique so I hope you have fun experimenting with it!