Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video A crash course in Adjustment Brush basics, part of Lighting a Portrait with Lightroom.
- In the next few movies we'll be taking a look at how we can use the adjustment brush inside of the develop module in order to paint in brightness and warmth and light into this photograph. In order to really understand how the adjustment brush works, we're gonna be taking a three-step approach. The first step, which we'll be taking in this movie, will be our chance to get familiar with what the adjustment brush is and how it works. Then we'll dig a little bit deeper into some more advanced topics of working with the adjustment brush. Then in our third step we'll look at how we can apply all that we've learned in order to improve this photograph.
Here you can see I have the image open in the library module. Let's navigate to the develop module by tapping the "D" key or by clicking on the develop module picker, which is located right here. Now that we're in the develop module, I'm gonna collapse the panels on the left by clicking on this triangle icon and also the film strip down below by clicking on this icon here. That will open up more screen space so that we can really focus in on the photograph. Now with this photograph, I love their expression in this moment, yet what I wanna do is paint in some warmth and some brightness into the subjects.
In order to make an adjustment like that, the adjustment brush is the perfect tool. But before we get carried away with using this tool, let's talk about how it actually works. In order to select the adjustment brush you can tap the "K" key, that's a great shortcut. Be sure to write that one down. Or you can just click on the adjustment brush icon, which is located right here. When you select this tool, you'll notice it opens up a drawer full of settings and controls. Let me show you that again. Here we can click it to close that drawer or exit out of the tool or click it again and you can see it opens it up.
For me, whenever I see a new set of controls, I'm always a little bit overwhelmed. Here you can see we have all of these various settings that we can use this tool to paint in exposure and contrast and clarity and sharpness and more. What will happen is that Lightroom will remember whatever settings you used last time, but those might not be the perfect settings for your image. What I like to do is to click on this effect pull-down menu and then choose an option, for example, like exposure. When you select exposure, it will reset everything to its default setting and then just give you a value for that slider which you selected, in this case exposure.
For demo purposes, let's bring our value out to four. This will be an exaggerated amount, but it will help us understand how the adjustment brush works, which we'll talk about next. If we scroll down, you'll notice that we have some brush settings. The first controller we have is size. This one's easy, drag to the right, brush is bigger. Drag to the left, the brush is smaller. Next we have feather. This one's a little bit more complicated to understand, so let's exaggerate and let's remove all of the feather. With a feather value of zero, I'm gonna make a brushstroke on the image.
Can you see how I've painted in the brightness in this part of the photograph? Here we can see we have a really defined edge. If we increase the feather, bring it up to 50 or so, and then make a similar brushstroke, notice how the edges are much softer, they're feathered. The whole adjustment looks more natural, even at this exaggerated value. So what we're learning here is that a low feather value has a more defined or distinct edge. A high feather value has a softer edge. What I found in my own work, though, is that I've very rarely, if never, painted in an adjustment with a low feather value.
I always have a certain amount of feathers I'm painting in adjustments with this tool. Let's say that we've made an adjustment like this and we don't like it, what are our options? One option is to click on erase. When we go to erase, you'll notice that we have a brush here, we can change its size and also its feather. We'll talk about flow in a second. What I can do is just paint over this, and you can see how I can paint and remove the adjustment that I made. Another option is to exit out of erase by going back to our A brush, our first brush here.
Here you can see we have a pin, which represents the adjustment that was made. Whenever you have a pin active, you can hit delete or backspace and voila, that adjustment is gone. Let's cover one more topic here in this movie, and that is flow. What is flow and how does it work? First let me make an adjustment here. You can see I have a brightening effect I've painted into this part of the image. That effect came in pretty quickly because I have a high flow value. If I lower my flow value, say down to 20 or so, and make a similar adjustment, you can see barely anything happens at all.
Now I'm gonna paint back and forth over that. You can see how I'm building up this brightening effect. Flow allows us to work more subtly. Typically when it comes to painting in an adjustment, you want it to look natural, so most of the time you'll start with a lower flow value versus one which is cranked all the way up. Let's delete this adjustment. You can see our little pin right there. Just hit delete on a Mac, backspace on Windows, and that adjustment is gone. That's our first look at how we can work with the adjustment brush.
There are a few more topics that we need to cover before we begin to use this tool, so go ahead and leave this image open as we'll continue our crash course into using the adjustment brush in the next movie.