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I find that I really enjoy interacting with an image in order to try and produce the best result possible. And sometimes that means applying an adjustment that affects only a specific area of an image. For example, with this sign at an abandoned gas station, I might like to enhance the color of just the sign, without affecting the sky in the background. There's not much color in the sky, but I want to make sure it stays that way. So, maybe I'll boost the colors in just the sign itself, and for the I think the Adjustment brush is probably going to be the very best approach.
The Adjustment brush can be found on toolbar at the top of the right panel in the Develop module. You can click on the Adjustment brush button, or simply press the letter K on the keyboard, in order to bring up the Adjustment brush controls. You can see that we have a variety of different adjustments available. This is a subset of all the adjustments you'll find in the Develop module, so it's not every adjustment that's available. But it's many of them and I think the most important adjustments that your likely to need. I'll scroll down just a little bit here and we can see some of the brush settings as well.
So, we're able to paint an adjustment into the image. We have two brushes to choose from. Really that just makes it easier to switch back and forth between, for example, a brush with a soft edge and a brush with the hard edge. The size, naturally, is just the overall size of the brush itself, how small or large an area do you want to affect. Feathering determines how much transition there is along that edge. Do we want a crisp edged brush with a low feathering setting? Or do we want a large transition? A very soft edge with a higher setting? Generally speaking, I'll never use a value of zero for Feather.
But I'll range somewhere between 50 and 100. Again, it just depends on exactly what I'm doing within the image. The Flow setting I don't worry about at all. This causes something of an airbrush type of effect in the image, which I usually don't find helpful, and then Density determines the strength of the adjustment. Generally speaking I don't use Density because I would just fine-tune my adjustment to produce the desired result. But sometimes that can be a little bit tricky, and so you might want to reduce the Density of the effect. Just by moving that slider left or right. In addition to the A and B brushes, we also have an Erase brush. The controls here are exactly the same.
The only difference is the Erase brush, of course, allows us to erase adjustments. So, if we've painted an adjustment into an area that we didn't intend to actually adjust, we can simply choose the Erase brush and click and paint into those areas of the photo. Let's take a look at the basics of working with the Adjustment brush. All generally start with a relatively strong adjustment. You can see here for example. The default effect is an Exposure adjustment. Which is a rather strong darkening of the image. I'm working with my A brush. I've adjusted it just a little bit.
So, that it has a relatively soft edge. And I can fine tune the size of the brush. Using the left square bracket on the key board to reduce the brush size. Or the Right square bracket key to increase the brush size. And then I can simply paint in the image, where I want to apply an effect. Now as I'm painting you'll notice that it can be a little bit tricky to try paint on exactly the areas you want to adjust, without affecting any other areas of the image. You'll see that my effect bleeds out into the sky for example. In theory, if the adjustment is not too strong, then that might not be an issue.
For example, I'll increase Saturation, and see if we see any effect at all in the sky. And thankfully in this case, we're really not seeing too strong an effect. But still, generally you'll want to be as precise as possible, when we have an object that is so clearly defined. If I had just been darkening up random areas of the image where I want the transition to just blend into surrounding areas. This wouldn't necessarily be a problem, but in this case there is the potential for there to be a bit of a problem depending on the specific adjustment I apply. I'm going to go ahead and click the Reset button to reset all of the adjustments for this image. And then I'm going to take a look at one additional setting for my brush and that's Auto Mask.
If I turn on the AutoMask feature, now if I paint into the image, now once again I'm working with a very strong reduction in the exposure. If I paint within the image, now as I'm applying this adjustment I need to be very careful where that crosshair lies. For example if I paint across the top of the fuel sign, I'll need to stay inside the blue area because otherwise the fuel lettering will match the sky. We can see that there is a gray area there. And so I'll paint very carefully, keeping that crosshair inside of the sign itself in areas that do not match up with the sky.
You can see there, for example, I got a small area of sky included. I'll continue painting across here, though. That should be fairly easy to fix, as you'll see in a moment. I'll continue across the rest of the outer boundary of the image here. Now once I've defined an outer area, we'll assume for the moment that the outside area is perfectly fine. I can turn off that auto mask feature and then paint a little less carefully around the rest of the sign. Just making sure that I don't paint outside the sign itself. So, I can sort of mix and match these two features, AutoMask on when I need to define the outer edge of an object. And AutoMask off, when I'm working within the interior after having defined that edge but you can see I need to fix this portion of the sky that's being adjusted. I'll switch to my Rrase brush I can try using AutoMask here. Let's see how that will work for us I'll increase the size of the brush a little bit and then click and drag and paint just into that area where we have the sky being affected.
And that looks like it'll work out quite nicely, actually. So, with the combination of painting and with the brush, with the AutoMask on versus off and then erasing as needed in specific areas of the image. I'm able to define a mask that I think is going to work out pretty well. At any time, I can also show the mask. This will give us a red overlay on the photo, to indicate which portions of the image will be affected by this adjustment. I'll go ahead and turn that option off and then scroll up on the right panel so we can see all of the adjustments that are available to us.
I'll increase that exposure value. I didn't actually want to darken the sign. Instead, I think I'm going to increase clarity to give some contrast to the sign, and perhaps increase the saturation to create something of, a little bit of, artificial look in the image. Not too crazy, but something that has a little bit more impact. In fact I think I'll also increase contrast just a little bit. Maybe increase exposure to get those brights really bright within the sign. That looks to be pretty good. Scroll down just a little bit so I can see all of the remaining controls.
You'll see that I have a switch that if I click will turn off the adjustments, and then I can click again to turn on the adjustments, getting that before and after view. And I think that's looking kind of cool. So, I'll go ahead and keep that as my final effect. I could also click the new button in order to create a new Adjustment brush. You'll see that I have the button displayed for the existing brush. I'll switch my Edit Pen option to auto, so that I can see the Edit Pens when I'm on the image. And not see the Edit Pens when I move out off of the image, but at this point I could for example paint in the sky or other areas of the image. if I wanted to apply a different targeted adjustment in a different portion of the photo.
So while the Adjustment brush doesn't give us access to every single adjustment available within the Develop module, It does give us a pretty good range of controls. And more importantly allows us to with relative ease apply adjustments that only affect specific portions of the photo.
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