An Exercise In Dodge & Burn: Turning A Golf Ball Into A Pingpong Ball

Jan 14, 2015

Stefan Kohler

Stefan Kohler is a full-time retoucher. He’s from Germany and likes bacon. In the last years, he built up a broad community around his retouching classes at the Infinite tool’s website. You can follow his work oninstagram.

An Exercise In Dodge & Burn: Turning A Golf Ball Into A Pingpong Ball

Jan 14, 2015

Stefan Kohler

Stefan Kohler is a full-time retoucher. He’s from Germany and likes bacon. In the last years, he built up a broad community around his retouching classes at the Infinite tool’s website. You can follow his work oninstagram.

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golf-ball-0050

Dodge & Burn (fondly called D&B) are one of the simplest and most powerful techniques that you can use in retouching. One of the interesting uses of D&B is the answer to the following question: “How can I get blemishes off my model?”.

If you break this down to the basic components this is a very easy question to answer.

What is an image?

A digital image consists of pixels of different colors and brightness. A black and white image does not even contain color, only differences in brightness. This means that spatial depth information is mediated by the brightness.

What are blemishes in the image?

A blemish manifests itself as a small bump. It is “abnormal” depth information. In a black and white image, for example, a pimple would have a small highlight from being hit by light and a small shadow behind it. In a color image, we will also have some redness, but for the sake of this discussion we are focusing on black and white, mainly because color information is not changed with D&B.

What does Dodge & Burn do?

D&B changes the brightness of the pixels, thereby changing the depth information.

The golf ball

I once said: “You can make a golf ball into a ping pong ball with D&B“. Yea, really, I said it.

Now, that I have said it, of course at some point I had to try it. You can try it too. The RAW file is available here (16MB NEF file). You have been dared!

Here is the result of about 3 sessions, 90 minutes each of D&B:

you may ask yourself: “where does all this time comes from? Has he got no friends or Game of Thrones to watch?”

Neither! Even after about 10 minutes I realized: This is not going to be easy. It is way faster to detect a less-than-perfect surface on a golf ball than it is to detect on an actual face. It felt like a really good exercise so I had to keep going. The result is far from perfect, I think if I invested another 2 or 3 hours of adapting Highlights etc. I would get the ball really well all around.

I learned a lot during the exercise. So I realized, for example, how zoom levels affect the perception. If a spot looks good at a 200% view, it does not mean that you will not see an error at 100% or 25%. Depth in the image is apparent both on pixel basis and also on global basis.

It is always important to keep track and to change the zoom levels from close up to full view and back again.

Here are the various processing stages:

First pass:

golf-ball-m01
Mask of the first pass

Second pass:

golf-ball-m02
Mask of the second passage

And the third (and last) passage:

golf-ball-m03
Mask of the third pass

Dodge & Burn is powerful – especially when one is aware of the points questioned above and that you can do anything with it. I’ve ironed my art, table cloths and T-shirts and even changed head shapes with it. Basically, it behaves like the golf ball: Depth is only light and shadow.

Should you want to try it – I’m anxious to see your results ;-)

 

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Stefan Kohler

Stefan Kohler

Stefan Kohler is a full-time retoucher. He’s from Germany and likes bacon. In the last years, he built up a broad community around his retouching classes at the Infinite tool’s website. You can follow his work oninstagram.

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9 responses to “An Exercise In Dodge & Burn: Turning A Golf Ball Into A Pingpong Ball”

  1. Steven Avatar
    Steven

    That’s awesome DnB work. But yes, you do have too much time on your hands :)

    Well done for having the integrity to back up a statement you made with a practical demonstration.

  2. Garrett Avatar
    Garrett

    D&B is awesome, but what’s even more awesome are those check layers you made! I’ve never seen a color version done before and they are freakin sweet looking! How did you make them?

    1. Stefan Avatar
      Stefan

      alt-click on the layers mask to show only the mask, cmd+a (select all), cmd+c (copy), cmd+n (new document – only for the first mask), cmd+v (paste), add clipped adjustment layer color and choose your color, use layer mode “screen” and repeat for each mask.

  3. Trevor Dennis Avatar
    Trevor Dennis

    I completely understand how you could get get carried away with a Photoshop exercise. For instance yesterday I needed to make a pen that would be seen in a Pocket Protector. Despite the fact only part of the pen would show in the finished illustration, I absolutely could not stop myself from creating the entire pen. :-(

    As for D&B, they are vital tools. I nearly always prefer to create 3D with shading and highlights rather than let PS do the job for me, although, as a consequence, I am not that flash using Photoshop’s 3D tools. A person could do worse than check out some of Bert Monroy’s titles on Lynda.com, or just find the full res zoomable version of his Times Square illustration. BTW Bert also clarifies nicely the pros and cons of using each of the three modes (Highlight, Midtones and Shadows) with the D&B tools.

    Stefan, I’m wondering if the masks you show are as a demonstration of progress, or if you created luminosity masks to aid the D&B process?

    1. Stefan Avatar
      Stefan

      The mask shown are the real masks. Extracted and colorized to show the difference.
      PS: I use only curves, not the dodge&burn-tool. This is what the layers look like for a 100% non-destructive workflow.

  4. dantebertana Avatar
    dantebertana

    What processes did you use to define the masks in your processing steps? Was it done with software or by hand?

    1. Stefan Avatar
      Stefan

      I’ve painted the masks with the brush tool and low flow-settings.

  5. Michael Mulligan Avatar
    Michael Mulligan

    Am I missing something? It still looks like a golf-ball… ? Interestingly, even though their luminescence may be relatively even, due to the colors, the shadow region could undergo a little more dodge, the GB facets (or what ever they are called) are still clearly visible. The light side is better than the dark side, but the clipped highlights pretty much ruin it… :-/

  6. Michael Mulligan Avatar
    Michael Mulligan

    Also, just as a heads up, your sensor is seriously dirty…