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Tutorial – Dodge and Burn in Photoshop

Before I begin the tutorial, I’d like to add that the lovely printed lingerie (which is all hand drawn) is a little sneak peek. Zaara will be releasing this set in many different options and colors this weekend.

Tutorial - Dodge & Burn in Photoshop

Please note that I have never received any sort of professional photoshop training. I am just sharing tips and tricks I have picked up along the way.


As you can see from the above two shots, dodging and burning can add a lot of depth and personality to your image. Dodge and burn allow you to add light exposure to areas of your snapshot. Dodge is great for making certain areas of your image lighter, whereas burn will darken. Burn is great for making shadows. I often use it to create subtle shadows on different parts of the face and body.

fill gray

These are the steps I took to achieve my end result that is visible in the first image in this post.

  1. Snapped a high-res snapshot of my avatar.
  2. Cleaned up the image using photoshop by utilizing the liquify filter and other adjustment tools.
  3. Created a new layer above the last layer in the layers palette. If you do not see the layers palette on your screen, press F7 and it should appear. Once I created that new layer, I made sure it was selected.
  4. In the Edit menu, I selected fill and then filled that layer with 50% gray.
  5. At the top of the layers palette, I set that gray layer to overlay.
  6. After selecting the dodge and burn tools in the sidebar, I made sure the range was set to mid-tones and the exposure was set to 20%. Then I increased and decreased the brush sizes, as I saw fit, while painting over my avatar to create shadows and highlights.
  7. Using the dodge tool I highlighted the top areas of my avatar’s arms and body along with different areas of the background of this image. With the burn tool, I followed along the edge of my avatar’s body to create a shadow effect.

Here is a great video tutorial showing the procedure that I used:


If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me.

» You can view all of my current tutorials on my tutorials page.

Credits for what I’m wearing in the picture:
Skin: –tres blah– {Dark} Jejune Cherry – Dark Winged Brows by Julliette Westerburg
*Hair: Maitreya Nimue – Caramel by Onyx LeShelle
*Necklace: [Whippet & Buck] Memory Collector Necklace (Unisex) by Dakota Buck
*Lingerie: Zaara : Sumana *crimson* by Zaara Kohime (releasing this weekend)
*Pose: oOo Studio by Olaenka Chesnokov

*Promotional Copies


Strawberry has been a Second Life Resident since 2007 and a Linden Lab employee since 2019.

12 thoughts on “Tutorial – Dodge and Burn in Photoshop

  • Pingback: Tutorial – Dodge and Burn in Photoshop « Berry's Blog

  • Arialle Dufaux

    Thank you for your helpful and easy to understand tute.

  • Carmilla Mirabeau

    Thanks again for providing this helpful tutorial! Awesome!

  • omg!!! you rock! i have searched forever for tutorials like your’s…thank you so much for doing this!!!!

  • Thank you so much guys, I’m really glad you are liking the tutorials! <3

  • Strawberry, this has been awesome – simple & concise!! Thank you so much!!

  • Great picture ,, perfect effects,, I LOVE your tutorials!! Ive been reading for an hour now so I just wanted to say thank you!!!

  • Just wanted to make sure I understand correctly….the dodge and burn parts are done on the “gray layer”….not on your avi directly…is that correct? Thank you so much for your tutorials…they have been amazing!

  • Thanks sooo much, I’ve been messing around with Dodge and Burn lately but didn’t seem to quite know how to maximize it’s potential but since you told us exactly how to use it and set it at certain levels that helps a lot, the Dodge tool is now one of my favorite tools! I saw in another person’s tutorial that they used dodge to give their skin a beautiful glow with depth and I’ve been trying time and again to achieve the same effect, I hope I can now! I am still practicing with burn, that is the tool that has been aggravating me because the shadows never turn out how I want them to, so I hope this helps.

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