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When you need more control than a Graduated Filter, it's time to master the Adjustment Brush in Camera Raw. Now this is one my favorite tools because it lets you quickly make changes that can make a huge impact on your image. Before we start making our local adjustments, I want to make a few global adjustments. I am just going to increase the Exposure a little bit here and maybe add a little bit of Contrast as well as Clarity. So here we are making changes that affect the entire image, but now I really want to focus in on some specific areas and change those locally with the Adjustment Brush.
So we can select the brush up here in the tools or we can tap the K key in order to get the Adjustment Brush. And if you've followed it along with the last tutorial on the Graduated Filter, you'll notice that as soon as we selected this local editing tool, we get all sorts of options to load the tool with. In fact, they are the same options for both tools. I can change Temperature and Tint, we can change Exposure and Contrast, Highlights and Shadows, add or subtract Clarity or Saturation, and even selectively paint in Sharpness, Noise Reduction, Moire Reduction, and even Color Tint.
Now there are a few additional tools. Because this is a paintbrush, we need to be able to control the size of the brush, the feather, the flow, and the density. So the size of the brush, we could keep going back and forth, seeing the size of the brush over the image and then coming back to the slider. But there is a few key shortcuts that will really help. The first is the right bracket and the left bracket. So the right bracket makes your brush larger and the left bracket makes your brush smaller. You'll notice that there's two circles in the brush.
The inner circle, the solid black circle, any area inside there will be completely affected by whatever we load into the brush. Then in the area between the two circles, that's the area that is slowly going to fade so that you won't see like a straight line or a harsh difference between what's been adjusted and what hasn't. If I want to change that fade range, that would be done using the Feather slider. Or we can use a keyboard shortcut for that as well, and that's just adding the Shift key to the left bracket or the right bracket in order to make a harder edged brush or a softer edged brush, one that has a feather on it.
All right, let's go ahead and load this up with something dramatic. I am going to go ahead and put a -4 exposure, just to show you the difference of these two brushes. So if I click and paint right now, you can see that's a very soft-edge brush. If I use the Shift key with the minus bracket and get a hard-edge brush, we'll see the difference. So you can see how the soft-edge brush, the one with the feather, is going to be much more subtle, and it's going to enable us to get a nice transition between what's affected and what's not affected.
When I first started painting with the Adjustment Brush, Camera Raw laid down a pin, and you'll notice that when I hover on top of that pin, I can see a mask, basically the areas that I've painted. If I don't want this pin, I can simply tap the Delete key in order to delete it. I don't want my Exposure set all the way down to -4. In fact, what I want to do is I want to brighten the horse's eye a little bit. So I am going to set my Exposure to maybe plus a half stop or so.
And then I want to zoom in. I am going to hold down the Spacebar and the Command key--that'll be the Ctrl key on Windows--and click and drag over the eye area to zoom to that eye area. I want a smaller brush, So I use the left bracket key. And I do want a feather on this brush, so let's see what that set to. It's set to 0 right now. Let's go ahead and bring that up to 100. And I will still need even a smaller brush. You'll notice as the brush gets really small, it's hard to see the feather, because there is just not enough room to draw that as an icon.
So sometimes you will have to check the Feather slider. And if the brush gets really small then it's just going to change to the crosshairs. But I'll go ahead and paint right here in the eye area in order to lighten that. When I let go, we'll see the pin. If I position my cursor on top of it, we'll see the mask overlay. So that's the area that's going to be affected, and now we can zoom out. I'll use Command+0, Ctrl+0 on Windows, to zoom back to fit in window, and then tap the P key to toggle on and off the change that I have just made.
I can also turn on and off the pins by clicking on the option at the bottom of the Adjustment Brush panel area. If I think that the adjustment that I've made is too much, we can go in and modify that. We'll scroll up to the top here. I could change the exposure, either increasing it or decreasing it. I could add some contrast if I wanted to. I could even scroll down, click on the color swatch, and let's make this a little bit warmer tone.
I am just going to add a little bit of orange in order to make that kind of a browner tone there. And when you add color to an eye, if you add a brownish tone, it actually can help make the person, or in this case the horse, a little bit healthier looking. So I think that's a little bit too much, but we'll just drag that down and click OK. Again, I can show or hide the pin and tap the P key to turn the preview on and off. So you can see, it's a very subtle change, but it does make a big difference by allowing us to see into the horse's eye and kind of feel more of a connection with the horse.
If I wanted to add a secondary adjustment-- let's go ahead and show that pin again-- before I start changing or loading the pin with different adjustments, I'll want to make sure that I click the New button; otherwise, I would just be changing the adjustments that were applied to this pin. So we'll click New, and this time I want to just darken down this area of the hair a little bit. Let's add some contrast and again, if I want to reset all of the adjustments at one time and just add a different adjustment then instead of double-clicking on all the sliders, I'll just click on the Plus icon over here.
So now I have a +25 contrast. That might not be enough. Let's go ahead and lift that a little bit more. I also want to take down my highlights in this area because I know that probably this range of hair is going to fall in this highlight areas, and that's what I'm trying to darken down. And I want to add some Clarity or some midtone contrast in those areas. I'm really just guessing at this point as to what to set the tools to. As soon as I start painting, I'll actually get a better idea.
So, when we painted the eye, I did it in one fell stroke, but sometimes it's better to build up the adjustment. In order to do that, I am going to turn down the Flow. So now it's going to take me multiple paintstrokes over an area to reach like 100% of all of these changes that I've made. So that just gives me a bit more of an opportunity to slowly build up a change, as opposed to applying it all at once. So let's start painting in the hair area, and you can see that it's making a change, but it's not making as drastic of a change because I've got that Flow set down.
So that enables me to paint over different areas multiple times and slowly build up that adjustment. Now if that adjustment isn't quite enough, then we can return back to all of our settings here. I could maybe take down the Exposure a little. That's probably going to be too much. So I'll leave that set up. Maybe just add a little bit more contrast before I take down the Exposure and as I do that, you can see that I'm regaining detail in that area. To toggle off the pins, we can use the little check mark and then tap the P key in order to see a preview.
Now it looks like I have painted a little bit too much into the sky area here, so then I want to switch, instead of adding every time I paint, I actually want to erase. When we scroll down, the Eraser tool and the Add tool are two separate tools, so they can have their own settings. You have to be a little bit careful when you switch back and forth between painting versus erasing because you might not realize, for example, that you've got a harder edge brush, or your Flow might be set differently for the two tools.
So I definitely want to add a huge feather, get a nice soft brush, and bring my Flow down so that I can just paint in little strokes here to kind of blend that area, that sky area, so that we don't see that I have actually painted in an adjustment there. And now toggling on and off the preview with the P key, you can see that I've got it a lot more exact without changing the sky but only bringing down the highlights in the mane. Finally, I'm going to make one more adjustment, so I'll click the New button. And in this adjustment I want to add a little bit of clarity, so to reset everything at one time but just apply the clarity, we'll click on the Plus icon here.
Then I'll move down to the mouth area and use the right bracket to get a little bit larger of a brush here. It's got a nice feather on it. I can see that. And I am just going to paint over the mouth area. It's just going to add a little bit of definition, because I really, really like those lines there and I want to accentuate them. Tap the P key one more time to show a little before and after. You can see how I've kind of added a little bit of contrast by using that Clarity slider down at the horse's muzzle.
It's as easy as that. We've made this image far more interesting, in my opinion, by making some simple local edits using Camera Raw's Adjustment Brush.
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