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Making local adjustments with the Adjustment Brush

From: Up and Running with Lightroom 4

Video: Making local adjustments with the Adjustment Brush

Many photographers use Lightroom to make global adjustments to their photographs. Those are adjustments that affect an entire photo like, the controls in the Basic panel of the Develop module that we saw in the last chapter. But Lightroom is capable of way more than that. It includes powerful local tools that you can use to apply processing effects to just part of a photo. My favorite of those tools is the Adjustment Brush which you can use to paint effects in to part of a photo. There are many practical uses for the Adjustment brush. You can use it to fix the white balance on a photo taken in mixed lighting like this one.

Making local adjustments with the Adjustment Brush

Many photographers use Lightroom to make global adjustments to their photographs. Those are adjustments that affect an entire photo like, the controls in the Basic panel of the Develop module that we saw in the last chapter. But Lightroom is capable of way more than that. It includes powerful local tools that you can use to apply processing effects to just part of a photo. My favorite of those tools is the Adjustment Brush which you can use to paint effects in to part of a photo. There are many practical uses for the Adjustment brush. You can use it to fix the white balance on a photo taken in mixed lighting like this one.

It can be used as a local Dodging and Burning tool. You can paint away digital noise in part of an image or add sharpening to the focal part. Let's see how the Adjustment brush works. Before I make local adjustments with the Adjustment brush, I usually make my global adjustments. So, I'll go into the Basic panel with this image and I'll go to the Exposure slider and drag it slightly to the right to brighten up the entire image. But I can't go too far or I'll end up blowing out this highlights on the wall. What I'd like to do is to make my face brighter.

This is me sitting on the couch and I'd also like to make my face a little warmer. This area of the photo is already warm so I need to use a local adjustment tool to make those changes. I'll go over to the column on the right and I'm going to click on the brush icon in the Tool Strip just above the Basic panel. That opens this panel of effects of which I can load my Adjustment brush. This effects look a lot like the controls in the Basic panel. They are not an exact mirror of the Basic panel but I think the two panels look enough alike that you want to double check that you're in the panel that you mean to be before you start working.

I'm going to start here by setting all of these effects back to their zero points because the effects are sticky. If I wanted to set just one effect back to zero, I can just double click its title. To set all of them back to zero, I'll hold down the Opt key on the Mac, or the Alt key on the PC, that changes this label to reset and I'll click the Reset label. The next thing I'm going to do is work on my brush size and softness. I'm going to be painting over my face here and I think the brush is a little small for that. I'd like to make it bigger so I'll move back to the Brush panel and here I'll drag the Size Slider over to the right and you can see the brush get bigger as I do that.

Another way to change the size of the brush is to do it on the fly by pressing the right Bracket key on your keyboard to make the brush bigger, the left Bracket key to make it smaller. The Bracket keys are located to the right of the P key on your keyboard. I can also change the amount of feather on this brush. That means the softness of the brush edge. I'm going to leave that where it set now at 50. As I paint with my brush, it's going to work somewhat like an air brush. Each time I add a stroke the effect will build up, and this flow slider controls how fast an effect builds up.

The Density slider here controls the opacity of a brush stroke. If you don't see an effect applied as you paint it's often because your Density slider is not far enough to the right. I'm going to leave Flow and Density at 100 for this video to make it easier for you to see what I'm doing. I'm also going to leave Auto Mask unchecked. The only time I might check Auto Mask is if I were trying to effect a real specific area of the photo that had very hard edges. Now I'm going to load my brush with an effect. I want to make my face brighter so I'll come up to their Effects. I'll go to the Exposure effect and I'm going to drag that slider over to right.

Now I really have no idea where to out this but that's fine. This is just a starting point and then I'll fine tune after I apply the effect. Now, I'll come into the image and I'm going to paint over my face. And yes it is brighter but it's really much too bright. That's okay because I can come back over to the Exposure slider and drag it down until I like the effect. Then you may notice that when I move my mouse near my face, this black pin appears. When you apply a brush, you get a pin with each different brush you use.

And if you want to go back and change a particular brush, all you have to do is click on that pin to activate that brush area. If the brush is in the way, you can come down to the toolbar at the bottom of the screen and where it says Show Edit Pins, you can click and say Never, but I like to leave mine set to Auto so that theyappear when I hover over them in the image. I'm also going to check Show Selected Mask Overlay for just a second because I want you to see what has happened when I painted with this brush. I actually was creating a mask that defines the area where my effects are going to be applied and if I click that Show Selected Mask Overlay I can see where the mask is.

That sometimes comes in handy if I'm not sure which areas of an image I happen to affect with the particular brush. I'm going to uncheck that for now. I can apply the same brush to other areas of the photo by just painting over them. I'm going to move over the image to light up that pin again. As long as I've got that pin selected I can apply the same effect to other parts of the image by just painting. So here I can apply it to my hand and this cup and I'll move over and apply it to the rug as well. Now, if I decide that I don't want that effect applied to the rug. I can erase it.

To do that, I'll hold down the Opt key, that's the Alt key on a PC, and that changes to the erase brush. Or I could come over to the panel and click on Erase and then I'll just click and drag with this brush. And I'll remove the effect from all the places that I don't want it. I can make this brush smaller too using the left Bracket key and I'll come in and remove the effect all around here. I can also add additional effects to the same brush so with this pin active I'll come back over to the panel and I'm going to go up to the Temperature slider.

I'd like to warm up my face a bit so I'm going to move the temperature slider over to the right. And I might add a little bit of magenta tint as well which I sometimes do on people's faces. If I want to see a before and after, I'll come down to the bottom of this panel and click this toggle. So there is how things looked before I applied the adjustment brush but after I made my global edits. And here's how they look now. Now I'd like to do something different to another part of the image and I can do that by creating a brand new brush. So, I'll go up to the top of this panel and I'll click New.

And now I'll choose some different settings. I'd like to lower the exposure on a different part of this image so, I'll direct my Exposure Slider over the left. Then I'll come in to the image and I'm going to paint with the second brush over this photograph which is kind of blown out because it was too bright. Notice that there is now a second pin identifying this second brush. With that pin active, I can come in and maybe add another effect. I'll lower the Highlight slider to bring back some of the highlights and maybe I will back off on the decrease in exposure, bringing in a little more light to that painting.

There is one more thing that I want to check and that is the amount of Noise, particularly around my face, which is now lighter and more likely to show the noise. So I'll move over the image and I'm going to activate the pin on my face and then I'm going to zoom into this area by holding the Spacebar on my keyboard and clicking, Because, remember, you can only evaluate noise when you're at a 100 percent view like this. So, I do see too much noise around my face. I've already got the pin activated for my face so all I have to do is come over to the panel and drag the Noise slider over to the right to reduce the digital noise there and I get the added bonus of softening my face so we can hide some of those laugh lines.

I'll move back in the image, hold the Space Bar and click again to fit the entire image in view. When I'm done using Adjustment brushes, I can close this panel by coming down to the bottom of the panel and clicking Close. If I decide that I want to change anything about the Adjustment brushes, I can always open that panel again by clicking on an Adjustment brush and then when I move into the image, I'll see my pins and I can select a pin and make a change in the panel or if I want to remove a pin altogether I can just select it and press the Delete key on my keyboard.

And that pin and all of the adjustments I'd applied to it are now gone. So there are more places that you can use the adjustment brush on this particular image. Maybe you want to paint in some exposure adjustments and some temperature adjustments here on the wall or over here in the rest of the image. So I'll leave it to you to experiment further with this brush but it really is one of my favorite features in Lightroom. Please be sure to give it a try.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Up and Running with Lightroom 4
Up and Running with Lightroom 4

34 video lessons · 19240 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 4m 21s
    1. Welcome
      1m 24s
    2. What is Lightroom used for?
      2m 57s
  2. 29m 45s
    1. What is a Lightroom catalog?
      5m 55s
    2. Importing the exercise files
      4m 41s
    3. Organizing your existing files before importing
      4m 8s
    4. Importing from a drive
      5m 31s
    5. Importing from a camera
      9m 30s
  3. 41m 32s
    1. Touring the Library module
      4m 56s
    2. Viewing and selecting photos and video
      5m 21s
    3. Reviewing and rating items from a shoot
      5m 33s
    4. Organizing your library with collections
      5m 10s
    5. Using keywords to organize your library
      6m 49s
    6. Finding photos with filters
      5m 37s
    7. Moving and renaming items
      8m 6s
  4. 1h 0m
    1. Touring the Develop module
      6m 35s
    2. Cropping and straightening
      4m 33s
    3. Setting white balance in the Basic panel
      6m 51s
    4. Using the Histogram to evaluate tones
      2m 37s
    5. Adjusting tonal values in the Basic panel
      8m 28s
    6. Controlling color intensity in the Basic panel
      3m 10s
    7. Reducing digital noise
      6m 37s
    8. Sharpening
      8m 15s
    9. Working with video
      6m 3s
    10. Enhancing video
      7m 32s
  5. 17m 11s
    1. Making local adjustments with the Adjustment Brush
      8m 14s
    2. Making variable adjustments with the Graduated Filter tool
      4m 13s
    3. Removing spots
      4m 44s
  6. 39m 16s
    1. Setting up a connection to Facebook
      6m 50s
    2. Sharing photos and video on Facebook
      5m 34s
    3. Printing photos
      6m 6s
    4. Creating a photo book
      5m 50s
    5. Customizing a photo book
      8m 6s
    6. Exporting photos
      6m 50s
  7. 33s
    1. Next steps
      33s

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