Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
If you want to enhance just part of a photo, you could do that by manually creating a selection or a layer mask, as I've shown you in other chapters, and then working on that selected area. Or you could shortcut the process by using the Smart Brush tools, which are located here in the toolbox. The Detail Smart Brush tool is useful for painting and enhancement into small areas. We'll get to that in a minute. Let's start with the plain Smart Brush tool. I'd like to use the tool to darken the area around the subject.
So I'll go up to the Options Bar for the tool and there is the Smart Brush Picker. I'll click the arrow to the right of the Smart Brush Picker to open it. Here I can see just a couple of the many enhancements that are available from the Smart Brush Picker. They're organized into categories, which I can see by clicking the Category menu here. There are Artistic enhancements, Black and White enhancements, Color, Lighting, Special Effects, and more. I'm going to choose the category of Lighting enhancements. And then I'll scroll down to find the Darker lighting enhancement, I'll select that, and then I'll close the Smart Brush Picker by clicking this X.
Now I'll move into the image. I want to make sure that my brush is just about this size. You may remember from other movies that you can make your brush smaller by pressing the Left Bracket key on the keyboard or larger by pressing the Right Bracket key. I'm going to click and drag over the background of this image. And what Elements does is select the background and at the same time applies the Darken adjustment. Now it didn't get all the background, but that's okay, because by default this tool is set to Add To the selection.
You can see that here in the small Options Bar that appeared on top of the image. So if I click and drag in this area, that will add that part to the selection and immediately apply the darkening adjustment there too. I'd like to remove this area from the selection, so I'll go up to that little Options Bar and I'll click the Subtract from Selection icon on the right. Then I'll come into the image, I'll make my Brush tool a little smaller pressing the Left Bracket key a couple of times, and I'll click and drag over her hair and her ear to remove it from the selection.
I'm not being too precise here, because in this image the edge of the subject is rather soft anyway. If I want to see the results without looking at the marching ants, I can go to the colored pin that appears each time you add a new Brush tool adjustment. I'll right-click the colored pin and from the menu that appears, I'll choose Hide Selection. I think things look pretty good, so I'll turn my selection back on the same way. If you take a look over at the Layers panel, you can see what the Smart Brush tool did.
It added a new layer above the Background layer called the Darker 1 layer. This is a special kind of layer called an Adjustment layer, which I'll be covering later in the course. This particular Adjustment layer is set to darken the image, and it contains a layer thumbnail that the Smart Brush tool filled with black and white pixels. Where the layer mask is white, we can see the darkening effect on the photo, and where the layer mask is filled with black pixels, the darkening effect is hidden on the photo. You can have more than one Smart Brush adjustment on the same photo.
So let's say that I'd like to lighten the subject's face. The first thing I'll do is go up to this Options Bar and click the first icon, the New Smart Brush icon, so that I'm set up to make a second adjustment. Then I'll go up to the Options Bar, I'll open the Smart Brush Picker, and I'm going to go to another category of Smart Brush adjustments, the Portrait category. One of the adjustments here is for Lightening Skin Tones. If you don't see that, use the scrollbar on the right to scroll to the Lighten Skin Tones enhancement and click on it to select it.
I'll close the Smart Brush Picker by clicking the X. Then I'll go into the image and I'm going to make my brush tip just about that big, and then I'll click and drag on the subject's skin. And that creates a brand- new selection over her skin. It's okay if I get a little bit of her hair in there too. This Smart Brush has not only made a selection, it's also lightened the selected area. I see that I've selected a little too much over here, so I'll go up to the Options Bar and I'll choose the Subtract from Selection icon, and click and drag over that area of the background to remove it from this selection and this enhancement.
And over in the Layers panel, you can see that there's yet another Adjustment layer, the Lighten Skin Tones layer with its own layer mask. Some Smart Brush adjustments can be fine-tuned. Let's see if we can do that with this one. There's a second pin down here that represents the second adjustment. I'm going to right-click that and choose Change Adjustment Settings. Keep your eye on the panel on the right as I do that. That opens the Adjustments panel with the brightness/contrast adjustments. And that's what this particular Adjustment layer is using to lighten the selected area.
I can tweak this adjustment by dragging these sliders, so I might make her skin a little bit brighter, and to make it a little softer I'll drag the contrast slider to the left. So that's the plain Smart Brush tool. Let's take a look at the Detail Smart Brush tool. I find that the Detail Smart Brush tool is easier to use when I need to make an adjustment to a very small area, for example, to a subject's eyes. First, I'm going to zoom in on this photo by getting the Zoom tool and clicking. Then I'll go over to the toolbar and from the flyout menu I'm going to choose Detail Smart Brush tool.
It's important that I begin a new adjustment, because I already had made a couple of adjustments to this photo. So in the small Options Bar in the image, I'll click the New Smart Brush icon, and then I'll go up to the Options Bar for the Detail Smart Brush tool, and there I'll find a Smart Brush Picker that's just like the Smart Brush Picker for the regular Smart Brush tool. It has the same enhancements and the same categories. In the Portrait category of enhancements, I'm going to scroll up to find the Bright Eyes enhancement. I'll select that, and then I'll click the X to close the Smart Brush Picker.
I'll move into the image and I'll make my brush a little bit bigger. I want it almost as big as the pupil of her eye. So I'll use the Right Bracket key, and then I'm going to click in the center of her eye. That adds another one of these pins. The pin is obscuring her eyes, so I'm going to click right on that pin and drag to move it away. And now you can see that her right eye is lighter than the left eye, because only the right eye has the adjustment right now. By default, the options are set to Add To. So if I move over to her left eye and I click, that will add the same adjustment over on this eye.
I can fine-tune this adjustment by right- clicking on the pin that corresponds to this adjustment and choosing to change my adjustment settings. And in the Adjustments panel I can now see the settings that are controlling the brightening of her eyes. This happens to be a Levels Adjustment. We'll talk more about levels in later movies. For now, I'm just going to go in here and take the black slider and move it slightly to the right to add a little black to her pupils and make the adjustment look more natural. So as you can see, the Smart Brush tools, both the regular Smart Brush tool and the Detail Smart Brush tool, can be real time savers when you want to apply an adjustment to a limited area.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
180 Video lessons · 70237 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 92049 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 60297 Viewers
103 Video lessons · 28948 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.