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Basic Cloning, dodging and burning in PS by David Brennan
Submitted By: David Date: January 16, 2010, 1:19 PM Views: 554
Summary: A short description on how to do some very basic cloning, dodging and burning in Photoshop

Basic Cloning, Dodging
and Burning in PhotoShop

This is something I wrote for a member of another site to help him with an image he had.  I thought it might be useful here for people just starting out.  It's not the only way and not necessarily the best way but it helped him so it might help others.

I was using Photoshop CS2 so this might be slightly different but all the tools are the same (just maybe in a different location on the screen).  Below is the image we started with opened in PS.

The first thing to do is to create a new layer. That way if you make a mistake you can just delete the layer and go back to an earlier version.


First of all select the CLONE tool.  Make sure you are not using too large or too small a brush size (between 20-40 should be big enough to remove the twig). You can do this one of two ways.  The first way is by clicking the Brush Preset Picker and moving the slider to the size you want.  The second way is by using the keyboard shortcuts of either ] to increase the size or [ to decrease it. I use the keyboard shortcuts as you can see the difference on screen then go into the Picker to tweak it if I need it slightly bigger or smaller.

Next you need to set the Opacity. I usually set this to around 50% as I find anything above 60% is usually too harsh and very obvious where you have cloned. Once youíve got this set then itís time to select your area to clone from. Press the ALT key and you will see your cursor change to a crosshair. While holding the ALT key down click the area you want to clone from and release the ALT key. Move the cursor over the area you want to clone over and click the mouse. This will replace what you had with the area you selected. If you move the mouse and click again you will replace again BUT not with the exact area you chose originally as you target cursor moves with you. If you make a mistake just click back one step on the history pallet. Whatever you do donít be tempted to click and drag to try to do bits quickly. All you end up with is a very obvious stripe where you have moved the mouse. The trick to cloning is to keep targeting slightly different areas to replace the unwanted section with and building it up bit by bit.

Once you have done an area create a new layer. This will act as save option without actually saving anything. You can only go back so many steps on the history pallet (about 20 I think) so building up layers can be a godsend. Once you are happy with your work you can then flatten the layers to make one picture.


This isnít anywhere near as difficult as it seems as long as you take it easy and set a low exposure level. To change tools just click and hold on the Burn/Dodge tool icon and a pop up box should appear so you can select which one you want. Then set the exposure level the same way as setting opacity on the clone tool. Keep this low (somewhere between 10-20%). If you use a higher figure then your manipulation becomes very obvious. Also select what you want to work on, either shadows, midtones or highlights from the dropdown next to the exposure setting. Then itís just a case of carefully and patiently clicking and dragging over the area you want to burn/dodge until you have the effect you want. By burning in the dunnock on this photo you can basically increase the saturation of the bird without affecting the rest of the image.

You should hopefully end up with something a little like this.

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