How do I tone down the extreme white that shows up along the side of his neck, his ear, and on his knuckles? Adjusting the contrast doesn't seem to help.

man with odd highlights


(Some background information on what I've tried)

I tried:

Like mentioned above, adjusting the contrast and brightness. No luck.

Then, I selected the brush tool, selected the "color dodge" mode (on the panel at the top of the screen), however, it affected nearby pixels.

Using the color replacement tool lead to a similar result.

I read somewhere that you should try using levels or curves, but it when I tried the first time, it didn't work for me. I was adjusting the position of the gray, white and black swatches underneath the histogram, but that didn't help. Jagged black outlines grew around the white highlights when I tried to adjust the white to a grayer color.

In desperation, I even tried putting a grey cut out the same shape as the man in a layer beneath, and tried painting dark grey onto the mask I applied on the top layer. Again, other pixels became grayer too.

However, thanks to all the comments suggesting levels/curves, I figured I was doing it wrong. On my second try, it worked. (Instead of the swatches, I shifted the a slider on a palette, and the white was toned down to grey.)

  • 1
    Welcome to GD.SE. What else have you tried? Where else have you researched?
    – Luciano
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 15:45
  • 1
    Have you tried using curves?
    – AndrewH
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 15:53
  • Easiest way would be to use a curves or levels adjustment layer. Like this
    – Cai
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 16:11
  • 1
    It is a very basic but valid question.
    – Rafael
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 17:06
  • I don't remember the specific sites (I'll hold onto them next time), but I was at quite a few places. I tried painting over the highlights using the brush and color dodge mode, but just like what happened with the color replacement tool, it affected other pixels. I tried using levels, but it didn't work for me the first time - I was adjusting the grey, white and black swatches, but that didn't help. All the votes in the levels direction suggested I was doing it wrong, and on my second try, it worked. Should I still edit my question?
    – habudu
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


There are many solutions to this but the best is a Curves Adjustment Layer with a mask.

Lower the White Output like so:

enter image description here

Then invert the mask (it was already inverted in the above screenshot) by clicking on the White square in your Layer Panel and hitting Ctrl/Cmd+i

Now with a small brush and low flow and/or opacity paint in the highlights.

enter image description here

You can then adjust the Curves or the Opacity of the Curves Adjustment to tune it further.

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