Portrait Retouching in Photoshop – Dodge & Burn

Portrait Retouching in Photoshop – Dodge & Burn

This video tutorial carries on from where we left off in the previous post about portrait retouching in Photoshop. There we looked at using frequency separation to edit the skin to create a better look that is still quite natural. Now we move on to contouring the face using dodge & burn. This is a technique that enables us to enhance the bone structure of the face in much the same way as makeup artists do. By boosting the contrast between highlights and shadows in key places it can create an even stronger 3D feel and make the facial features stand out more too. We will also be lightening the eyes to make them stronger. All of this is part of a non-destructive workflow for portrait retouching in Photoshop and we can always go back and change things if we need to. You will also see how the high pass filter can be used to enhance details and work as a form of sharpening.  At the end of the video there are a few bonus techniques that we look at as suggestions for extra finishing touches.


If you don’t have Photoshop but use Lightroom instead then you might like to take a look at our video covering basic portrait retouching techniques in Lightroom. Many types of portraits will not need much retouching. If you are trying to get published in magazines or want to work in fashion then you will need more advanced retouching skills. Otherwise you will need to pay a professional retoucher to do that for you. Although some of the techniques covered are similar to what a makeup artist may do, this does not mean that you don’t use them if you have had a makeup artist. You can still dodge & burn to enhance the effect further.

It is worth spending some time practising dodge and burn as well as the other techniques. It takes practise to be able to use them quickly and professionally. Remember that as long as you keep to a non-destructive workflow you can always go back and try again without having to lose all of the rest of your work.

© Joe Lenton, December 2016

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