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Paint with light (image)

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by JustinD, May 28, 2005.

  1. A user on this message board mentioned a photoshop tool called "paint with light"... I have PhotoshopCS and I've messed around with it and looked for that function. I found "render -> light" which was cool for dramatizing an image I have of a dreary sky but I'm wondering if I can get more out of this image...

    Any suggestions?

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  2. First, it's not a dreary sky at all.

    Second, this "paint with light" thing is not a Photoshop tool. It's an action that creates dodge and burn layers on your image that you then dodge and burn on.

    It's become all the rage over at dpreview.com in the retouching forum there. Go to that forum and do a search on "PWL," (their code name for it). This will eventually take you to a reference where you can obtain a copy of the action.

    It's unfortunate that they call this process "paint with light," because it's actually dodging and burning. "Paint with light" means to apply a light source to the subject while the shutter is open.

    So, I don't know what they call "dodging and burning" over there at the retouching forum, or, for that matter, what they call the process that has been traditionally called "paint with light."

    Something easier you could try is to increase the contrast of the sky.

    First, select the sky with whatever tools you use, then save that selection (under Save>Selection) and call it "sky." Now you can retrieve this selection at will in the future.

    Now, with this selection active, simply add a curve layer that increases the contrast a little in the sky. (Should be enough to just make the upper portion of the RGB curve a little steeper.)

    Or, just to experiment, you could create a duplicate background layer and actually dodge and burn on that layer just to see if it produces the effect you want. If so, then create dodge and burn layers (or use the "paint with light" action) and dodge and burn the sky.

    Or, an effect I often find useful is a Color Burn layer.

    Again, starting with your sky selection, do the following:

    Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color

    Under "Mode" select "Color Burn."

    In the first three numeric fields that then appear, enter 0, 0, and 50, respectively. Then click "OK."

    The result will be way too dark, so adjust the opacity of this layer to taste.

    Just some ideas. Neat image you've got there, and I think you've given the sky the proper emphasis in it with your composition.


  3. How I do a dodge/burn layer

    In case you don't have it easily at hand, here's how to do a dodge/burn layer:

    Create a new layer (Ctrl-Shift-N or Layer>New). Make sure this layer stays the top layer.

    In the New Layer pop-up screen that appears, under Mode, select Soft Light.

    Check the box at the bottom of the pop-up screen: “Fill with Soft-Light-neutral color (50% gray)”

    Click “OK,” which creates a new layer “Layer 1.” You might rename it "Dodge/Burn Layer" to keep it straight if you have a lot of other layers.

    Make sure your foreground and background colors are black and white. Press the letter “d” on your keyboard if they are not.

    To darken parts of the image, make your foreground color black. Press “x” on your keyboard to make it the foreground color if it isn’t already.

    Select the paintbrush tool with a soft edge and lower its opacity to around 10%. The image will become slightly darker where you paint over the image.

    To lighten the image, do the opposite, i.e., make the foreground color white and paint with a white paintbrush.
  4. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl

    Read original message. I gave you a link to all the info and the retouching forum on DPR :>)))))))
  5. Mike - Thanks for the suggestions! I appreciate the time you took to post those helpful instructions!

    Gale - Ah. Thanks. Didn't see it once it drifted to the bottom of the page.
  6. Hi:
    I don't want to undo anything Mike has said here as he hit the nail on the head. I just thought I would add a little to this thread.
    Mike is right.... "Light Painting" is the process of taking an image in total darkness and "painting" into a scene the light one needs to create an image.
    Here is an example of a (45 second) exposure I did a while back. This image was taken in total darkness and light was painted in.
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    The process you are talking of in your original post is really dodging and burning. This can be done in (many different) ways and the way Mike talks of is just fine.
    That being said, here is a (second) option that will do what you want....

    Burning and Dodging

    Step #1
    Create two (new Layers)
    Call new layers # 1 and #2

    Step #2
    Change layer mode on #1 to Color Dodge Mode. Use paint bucket and fill with black.
    Change layer #2 to Color Burn Mode. Use paint bucket fill with White.

    Step #3
    Now to modify image you want to (paint) with (low opacity) brush having a foreground color of white into Layer #1 or the black layer. This will allow you to paint light into the image.

    Step #4
    To darken shadows in image...
    You want to (paint) with (low opacity) brush having a foreground color of black into Layer #2 or the white layer.

    Continue to work the image till you get the look you want.
  7. Doug -

    Thanks. You can do or undo anything you want when you make helpful contributions like this.


  8. Thanks Mike I hope it helps someone....
  9. obelix


    Mar 17, 2005
    Fremont, CA, USA
    Feivel's Gothic glow is an example of this. It does some very fine things.

  10. obelix


    Mar 17, 2005
    Fremont, CA, USA
    Thanks Mike and Doug, V E R Y helpful.
  11. obelix


    Mar 17, 2005
    Fremont, CA, USA
  12. This is an interesting go at this type of image.
    As you will know (by now) the problem one has with "light painting" is that you cannot see were you have run the light till its over. That being said, it (real hard) to get it right.
    This is an image you should be proud of and one that you will have the ability to learn from.... Well done.
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