Blending Modes

The Burn Tool gradually darkens the areas on which you paint. Let's examine the thumbnail of our gray layer in the Layers palette, as shown at right. Since the blend mode of this layer is set to Overlay, the 50% gray areas on this layer leave the image underneath unaffected, whereas the "burned" areas (those darker than 50% gray) darken the corresponding areas of the image underneath.

You may find that parts of an image that are quite bright are sometimes difficult to darken using this technique. For a stronger effect, try changing the blend mode to Vivid Light or Linear Light, and using the Burn Tool with more restraint.

Using the Brush Tool

You can achieve the same effect by using the Brush Tool (b) to paint on the gray layer with various shades of gray. However, the benefit of using the Burn Tool is that it will darken the image gradually, producing a more believable effect.

Using the Burn Tool on the Image Layer

In this solution, we used the Burn Tool with a 50% gray layer and different blending modes to darken areas of our image non-destructively. In fact, there's a lot more that you can do with the Burn Tool. Check out the options bar: you've got a drop-down menu from which you can choose to darken shadows, midtones, or highlights, as well as a field in which to change the Exposure level, as shown in the example below.

Brush; * - Range:


■Exposure: 50% > />v*

? y.


Highlights ,

Changing the burn options

Changing the burn options

However, to use these options, you'll need to use the Burn Tool directly on the image. As you know, this will alter the image permanently, so you might want to first make a backup of your image by duplicating the original image layer.

Burn Tool area
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