When it comes to all the different tools and features in Lightroom, it can be hard to pick a favorite. Tucked away in the Develop module, under the Histogram, and right above the basic panel is where you will find one of the most powerful editing tools within the program: The Adjustment brush. 

Familiarizing yourself with this incredible feature will allow you to drastically manipulate your images in a very unique way. Unlike global adjustments that affect your entire image, the adjustment brush allows you to tweak your image on a micro-level. 

Clicking on the adjustment brush gives you access to many features within the Develop panels, but allows you to easily manipulate settings such as white balance, contrast, clarity, and exposure on specific areas within an image.

It is a fantastic tool but figuring out how to best control it can be slightly overwhelming. 

Today I am sharing 7 favorite tips and tricks for using the Lightroom Adjustment brush tool. I hope some of these secrets will be helpful to you as you explore the brush further in your editing. 

 

1. Use the A/B brush options to alternate with different settings

If you have ever done any type of painting work, you’ve likely discovered that different jobs require different brushes depending on the size, surface, and paint of whatever you’re working on.

Just like in normal painting, the Lightroom adjustment brush also gives us different brushes and options to work with. You can customize your ‘A Brush’ and ‘B Brush’ however you’d like to, and alternate between the two settings while you edit away.

 

2. The Adjustment Brush shortcut

You can simply type “K” as the shortcut from opening the brush tool within ANY of LIghtroom’s modules. Upon inputting “K” you will be taken directly to the brush tool. 

TIP: The brush tool and graduated filter have an almost identical dialogue box, and also appear very similar to the basic panel. Don’t get them mixed up!

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3. Create custom brush effect presets

Lightroom allows you to create custom brush effects and add them as presets to re-use on another editing session. 

When you achieve an effect you’re happy with – simply click on the arrows next to “custom” and open the brush presets menu. Select “Save Current Settings as New Preset”.

Upon clicking this, another box will then open which prompts you to add a name to your new preset. Choose a title that you’ll be able to identify quickly (‘teeth whitening’ for example), then click Create.

 

4. Auto Mask

Auto Mask is a little tool that lives inside the adjustment brush.  Its purpose is to make retouching easier by automatically creating a virtual mask that limits adjustments to a certain area on your image.

Because the adjustment brush is circular, it is often difficult to confine retouching to specific areas, especially when working with hard edges or different angles. This tool helps us “color within the lines” if you will. 

 

5. Adding color to the brush

This little trick allows you to change the color of objects within your images. 

To do this, you will open the adjustment brush with auto-mask, and mask over the object you are wanting to alter the color of.

Use your brush sliders to desaturate the object and remove the color altogether. From here, you can use the color filter to add your desired color back onto the object.

You can then fine-tune your desired look and color using the other sliders of the adjustment brush. VOILA!

 

6. The erase tool shortcut

We all know what an erase tool does. 

But did you know that you can use the erase tool without ever clicking on “erase” in the Adjustment brush panel?

Simply hold down the ALT or option Key to activate the erase brush. You can then adjust the eraser using all the same shortcuts that you would for your regular brushes.

 

7. Changing your brush size

You can change the size of your brush by using the scroll wheel on your mouse, or the left and right brackets on your keyboard.

There is a slider for this in the brush panel as well, but like everything in Lightroom, there is always a shortcut to speed up workflow, and I find it much easier to control than the sliders.

These are just a few of my favorite Lightroom Secrets!

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