This GIMP (GNU) tutorial explains how to remove shadows from images using the Dodge Tool. To work along, you are welcome to download the Start Image I am working with Here. Unzip the file and open the image onto GIMP’s workspace.
The Dodge Tool uses the current brush to lighten an image’s Highlights, Midtones and Shadows. The Tool’s Mode will determine which type of pixels are affected (either Highlights, Midtones or Shadows), and the Exposure setting determines the Dodge Tool’s intensity.
Repairing photographs is not a precise science. Undoubtedly, you will require considerable patience and lots of time. Additionally, individual photographs have different needs, and require different filters and commands. This type of photo editing cannot be rushed. For a good result, it’s important to give yourself plenty of time, and to take a break as soon as you feel eyestrain. In addition, remember save your work (as a XCF File) regularly.
You can quickly Undo a step at any time by pressing Ctrl then Z. Alternatively, click a previous Undo History snapshot - Windows then Dockable Dialogues then click Undo History. In addition, to Zoom in (or Zoom out) of your image; from the top menu choose View then select a Zoom Tool from the subsequent drop-down list.
Utilise The Dodge And Burn Tool
Launch GIMP & Organise Its Workspace & Palettes
Open your choice of Start Image onto GIMP’s workspace - File then Open - Ctrl then O.
Duplicate Your Image
It’s important to preserve your original image: therefore, Duplicate your image; Ctrl then D - (Image then Duplicate). Now, close the original image, and work on the Duplicated image.
Ensure the Layers and the Undo History Palettes are visible, and then drag them into position over your workspace - (Windows then Dockable Dialogues - then click Layers and Undo History).
Now, from the left-side Toolbox, activate the Dodge/Burn Tool.
And set the following Midtones Dodge Tool settings into the left-side Options Box.
You can quickly change the Brush’s Size by tapping your Keyboard’s Square Bracket Keys.
The Dodge Tool brightens your photograph’s highlights, and has the same principles as the Burn Tool. Therefore, for best results, set a relatively low Exposure, and increase the effect gradually. For different photographs, experiment with Range, Brush Size and Exposure. For even results, it’s best to utilise a low Exposure, reapplying it as necessary.
You are looking to remove the flower’s shadow. Therefore, (if necessary) Zoom into your image, and apply the Dodge Tool over an area that is in shadow. For precision, apply the Dodge Tool one click at a time. Alternatively, (if you are working with my Start Image), for quickness, left-click, and sweep you cursor in small semicircular movements. For good results, be prepared to take your time and build the effect slowly. This is a technique that cannot be rushed. If the intensity is too bright, then Step Backwards by pressing Ctrl then Z. Or click an earlier snapshot in the Undo History Palette. Additionally, as you work around your image, you will find it helpful to change Brush Size and the Exposure as necessary.
Keep zooming out of your image, to see how your work is progressing.
Now, continue applying the Dodge Tool over the flower’s shadow, until all traces have been erased.
If you over-apply the Dodge Tool, you will see the following undesirable result. To rectify this, return your image to a previous state by pressing Ctrl then Z.
Then reduce the Dodge Tool’s Exposure to around 9%. Now, reapply the Dodge Tool, as necessary.
To smooth over-dodged areas, from the left-side Toolbox, activate the Smudge
Now, enter the following settings into the Options Box.
Then left-click and being very careful not to overdo it, gently blur over-dodged
Congratulations, you have successfully removed your photograph’s shadow, and your work is ready to save.
Wendi E. M. Scarth. Top of Page.