Black and white portraits are one of the more popular genres for photographers to shoot, but many times any number of factors can leave your pictures feeling flat.
After you’ve converted your portrait to black and white, why not use Photoshop’s dodge and burn tools to give your image a rough and ready makeover.
This excellent, non-destructive technique will make your black and portraits really stand out. Here’s how to do it.
Black and White Portraits: add grit and drama in 4 easy steps
Step 1: Add fill layer
Open your black and white portrait in Photoshop. Click the Create new layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Now double-click on the layer name and change it to Dodge Burn. Go to Edit>Fill then select 50% Grey from the Use: Drop-down menu. Hit OK.
Step 2: Change blend mode
Go to the top of the Layers panel and change the Blend Mode of the Dodge Burn layer to Overlay. The Overlay Blend Mode multiplies the darker areas on the layer below and screens the lighter areas. As we’ve used a neutral 50% Grey, the layer will now appear transparent.
Step 3: Select Dodge tool
Now we can paint on the Dodge Burn layer and get the same results as if we were painting on the background. However, any alterations are now non-destructive. Select the Dodge tool from the Tools panel, then go to the Options bar and set Range to Highlights, Exposure to 10%.
Step 4: Dodge and Burn
Pain with the Dodge tool to lighten areas such as the cheeks, eyes and tops of ridges in the face. Build up your strokes gradually. Switch to the Burn tool (Shift+O will flick between them) and set Range to Shadows then paint in the darker areas to accentuate the lines of the face.