Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video The Adjustment Brush, part of Photoshop: Raw Workshop (2013).
At times, you may want to apply an adjustment to an image in Adobe Camera Raw only affecting a specific area of the photo, and in those situations you can utilize the adjustment brush in order to literally paint and adjustment into a specific area of the photo. Let's take a look at a very basic example just to get a sense for how this tool works. I'll start off by choosing the Adjustment Brush from the Toolbar, and then I'll apply just an exaggerated adjustment. I'll just tone down exposure significantly for example. And then I'll move my mouse out over the image and I'll just reduce the brush size here to create a relatively small brush stroke.
And then I'll click and drag in order to paint over the image. And you can see that I'm painting a darkening effect over the image, because I adjusted the exposure. I could also apply a variety of different adjustments all at the same time. So for example, I'll paint a stroke over the golden pavilion here. And it to gets darkened, but I could also increase contrast for example, or increase clarity, I can bring the exposure back up a little bit. You'll notice that all of the areas that I've painted are being effected similarly. And I can go back into the image and paint additional areas as well.
And as we'll see in a moment we can also create a new targeted adjustment. And adjustment area effecting a different area of the photo. I'll go ahead and click the Clear All button to remove the pin, and lets take a look at a more realistic example at how I might work with this tool. I'll reset the clarity adjustment and the contrast adjust, but I will maintain an exaggerated exposure adjustment. And this is how I typically will work the Adjustment Brush tool, that is to apply an extremely exaggerated adjustment, so that I can see very clearly where I'm painting, and then I'll come back and fine tune the actual adjustment. So for example, I could come into the image and paint into the sky, covering all areas of the sky, so that I can apply a targeted adjustment in that sky. As you can see though, it's a little bit tricky to paint in the sky and produce a good result since the sky transitions into trees of course. In cases where I just want to have a subtle effect on an area that is not very clearly defined.
Then I might as well just paint in this fashion. But in most cases I find, that I do want to paint an adjustment into a well defined area and therefore, I want to utilize the automatic masking feature. So I'll go ahead and clear that adjustment, and then I'm going to scroll down on my set of controls here and turn on the Auto Mask check box. That will cause the adjustment brush to automatically paint in the areas that I define. So for example, it can automatically determine where the sky is. Let me show you how it's done, I'll start off by moving my mouse out over the sky in this case. And I'll adjust my brush size with the left and right square bracket keys, and what I'm going to do is paint in the sky, just as I did before. Once again with an exaggerated adjustment applied.
But then, notice what happens when I paint down toward the treeline. In fact, I can paint over the boundary between the trees and the sky. I just need to make sure that the cross hair at the center of my brush remains in the sky, in the area that I'm trying to adjust. As long as I do that, Adobe Camera Raw will automatically determine exactly where that transition is. In other words, where the border is that separates the trees from the sky. So I can paint carefully along that edge basically making sure that, that cross hair stays in the sky, while the brush itself overlaps between the trees and the sky.
I'll come all the way over to the far end of the image here, and once I've accomplished that of course, then I don't need to be quite as careful, I can simply paint over the remainder of the sky. I can also turn on the Show Mask option, so that I can see a little bit more clearly where exactly I'm affecting the image. But of course, since I've applied an exaggerated adjustment, that's relatively straightforward to see. I'll go ahead and bring the exposure back up. Now that I've defined exactly where in the image I want to adjust. I can also adjust the saturation for this guide for example.
I can shift the color of the sky utilizing temperature and tint, and I can of course, apply a variety of other adjustments as well. Notice, that these adjustments are a subset of most adjustments that are available. But in most situations I think you'll find these options provide everything you need for applying typical target adjustments. We can also of course define an additional area that we want to adjust. I'll click the New Option up at the set of controls, and now I'll be creating a new pin or a new area of the image that I'm going to adjust.
I'll go ahead and reset some of these controls and once again apply an exaggerated adjustment for exposure. But in this case, I'm going to turn off the Auto Mask feature, because I just want to adjust a specific area of the photo that's not all that well defined. Notice, however, that if I were to paint at the moment my brush is a little too large. But more importantly, the feathering is a little bit too significant. The feathering is an area outside my brushstroke where the adjustment will taper off, and it's represented by that dash line. I can adjust the overall size of the brush, of course.
But in this case, I think I'm going to need to reduce the amount of feathering. So that it's more appropriate for the area that I'm painting. So, we can adjust the size and the feathering. You can also adjust the flow that would be related to an airbrush type of effect, and we can adjust the overall density of the effect. So, if I wanted to have a strong effect in one area of the image, and a slightly lesser effect in another area of the image, I could adjust the density as I worked. In most cases, though, I tend to just create a new pin when I want to adjust a different area in a different way. So, with those settings established, I'll go ahead and paint into this area, for example, and you can see the effect is far too strong. But I'm going to tone down that adjustment, so that'll be okay in this case I think.
I'll bring the exposure back up just a little bi, and lets assume that I'm happy with that adjustment. Maybe I'll fine tune some of the other settings here, but I still have a little bit too much of an effect going outside of this little island as it were, and so I need to erase a portion there. I'll go ahead and choose the Erase option. And then, I'll adjust my brush size as needed, and I can erase portions of this targeted adjustment. So that in this case, I'm only affecting the small island here for example. But as you can see, it's relatively easy to apply a targeted adjustment with the Adjustment Brush tool.
I generally apply a little bit of an exaggerated adjustment, and then paint into the image into the area that I want to effect. And then I'll return and fine tune the adjustments as needed. And of course, I can always go back and fine tune the painting into the image itself. Either adding additional area to be adjusted or even erasing from an existing area. And I can switch back and forth between the pins as well, simply by clicking on that pin. So, for example, if I want to go back to the sky to refine the adjustment or refine the area that's being adjusted. I can simply click on that pin and then refine as needed.
So clearly, the Adjustment Brush tool provides some rather sophisticated capabilities, when it comes to applying adjustments that only effect specific areas of your image.
- Opening raw captures
- Setting Camera Raw preferences
- Zooming and panning
- Processing multiple images
- Image rotation, cropping, and straightening
- White balance and tonal adjustments
- Sharpening and noise reduction
- Split toning
- Compensating for lens vignetting
- Focused adjustments