Make selective adjustments in Lightroom using the adjustment brush. Get the details on why this tool is so great below, or register for your free photography journey here if you can’t see the content.

Lightroom has many features that I love.  The Adjustment Brush is at the top of the list.  This tool alone lets me complete many of my edits in Lightroom, with no Elements work required.

Why do I love Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush?  Let me count the ways….

  1. You can layer Adjustment Brush edits.  Say that you want to super-saturate one part of your image.  You turn on the brush, increase the saturation to 100 and brush over the area you want to edit.  But wait, that’s not enough saturation for you, and the slider is already all the way up to 100.  Guess what?  You can hit the New button and apply a new brush stroke over the same area to double the saturation pop.  You could even triple or quadruple it, if you wanted to.  Add as many “layers” as you’d like.
  2. Use the Flow  slider (#2 in screen shot above) to build up an adjustment gradually.  If you set Flow to 25 and Saturation to 100, you’ll have to brush over the area about 4 times to build up to 100% saturation.  This is nice if you’re not sure how much of a given edit you need.
  3. Type O for Overlay if you want to see a red overlay where you’ve left a brush stroke.   Type O again to turn off this red overlay.
  4. Is that all-important Pin in your way?  Type H to Hide it.  Can’t find that all-important pin?  Type H to turn it back on.  And read below to learn why the pin is so important.
  5. Want another shortcut?  Type K to turn on the Adjustment Brush.
  6. The Auto Mask (#6 on first image above) does a great job of reading the edges of areas to paint.  Turn it on if you want to constrain your edit to a specific area of an image, like just the eye, for instance.  Watch out for Auto Mask being too sensitive, however.  You’ll see spots like the ones in the image below.  If you see spots like this, you’ll need to go back over the area with the brush until they are all picked up, or turn off Auto Mask.
  7. You can adjust as many sliders as you want on any adjustment brush.  Want to work on eyes?  Try this combo:
  8. Is that combo too strong for you?  Undo your brush stroke and adjust the sliders.  But rather than reducing them all, collapse all active sliders into one by clicking on the down arrow next to the number 8 in the screen shot above.  Now you can adjust the combined strength of all sliders with one keystroke – that’s the Amount slider in the image below.
  9. Want to toggle the adjustment brush effects off and on?  Click on the “light switch” at the bottom left corner of the panel (#9 in the screen shot).
  10. Want to get rid of your adjustment altogether?  If the pin is active, just hit the delete key.

 Must Know Info About Using the Lightroom Adjustment Brush

The pin controls everything about the brush.  The first time you make an adjustment brush stroke, the pin is placed.  When you hover over that pin, it will display the overlay over the parts of the photo it is editing.

Each time you want to create a new edit on a new part of the image, it’s important to hit the New button at the top of the Adjustment Brush panel.  Hitting new will make your first pin inactive, with no black dot in the circle.  Any adjustment tweaks that you apply to the sliders in the panel will be applied to the active pin only.  To make a different pin active, simply click on it.

What happens if you forget to click New before creating a new edit with the brush?  Let’s say you have increased the brightness and saturation of the eyes.  Next, you want to decrease saturation in the teeth, to make them less yellow.  If you don’t hit New, when you decrease that saturation, it’s going to be applied to the eyes that you just worked so hard on.  I do this ALL THE TIME.  Remember to always create a New brush between edits.[/show_if]