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Lightroom > Develop Module >

7 - Six Tools on Top of the Basic Panel >

Tool #6 - Adjustment Brush


Adjustment Brush

You can use the Adjustment Brush to edit locally.

For example, if the shadow on your subject's face is too dark, you can lighten it with the Adjustment Brush.

Most of the global editing effects in the Basic panel—are available as local editing effects—in the Adjustment Brush panel.

Plus, there are a few additional editing effects in the Adjustment Brush panel.

Basic Use

Do the following.

1) Click the Adjustment Brush.

2) Double click Effect in the Adjustment Brush panel to set the sliders back to zero.

3) Click and hold the triangle on the Exposure slider, and drag it to the left to get some "paint" on your brush.

You have to have some paint on your brush to see where you're brushing.

4) Place the brush on the photograph where you want the effect.

5) You can make the brush smaller and bigger by pressing the bracket keys: [ or ].

6) Click and hold, and brush.

A pin is created where you start brushing.

7) Release the mouse.

8) Readjust the Exposure slider, as needed.

You can add additional editing effects with the other sliders.

9) Click Done in the tool bar at the bottom of the work area.

The pin will turn from black to gray.



Active pins are black.

Inactive pins, pins that are "done," are gray.

You can reactivate a pin by clicking it.

If you press h, the pins are hidden.

Two Other Ways to Adjust the Effects

Most users drag the sliders, as described above.

There are three other ways you can move the sliders.

Other Way #1 - Arrow Keys

Do the following.

1) Position the cursor on Exposure.

2) Press the up-and-down arrow keys.

If they don't work, try the left-and-right arrow keys.

If you position the cursor on Effect, all of the sliders that have been used will move together.

Other Way #2 - Drag Left & Right on the Value

Do the following.

1) Position the cursor over the value to the right of the slider.

2) Click and hold.

The cursor changes to two arrows.

3) Drag left and right.

Other Way #3 - Drag Left & Right on the Pin

Do the following.

1) If the pin isn't black, click on it to make the pin active.


• Active pins are black.

• Inactive pins are gray.

2) Position the cursor over the pin.

3) Click and hold.

The cursor changes to two arrows.

4) Click and hold, and drag left and right.

Change the Size & Feathering

Of the Brush

You can use the sliders in Adjustment Brush panel to make a brush:

• Smaller and bigger.

• More or less feathered.

Feathering softens the edge of the brush.

When you feather a brush, the brush circle becomes two circles.

As the two circles move further apart, there's more feathering.

Below, the black area in the top photograph was made with a non-feathered brush.

The edge of the black area is sharp.

In the bottom photograph, a feathered brush was used to add the black area.

Its edge is soft, feathered.


Non-feathered Brush


Feathered Brush

Keys Instead of Sliders

As mentioned:

• Press [ to make a brush smaller.

• Press ] to make a brush larger.

And, press and hold Shift, and then press [ or ], to change the feathering.

Brushing Tips

Tip #1

Fill the screen with the area that you need to brush.

Zooming in makes it easier to edit.

Realize that a minor brush stroke imperfection probably won't be seen when you zoom out.

Tip #2

Don't try to brush the area in one fell swoop.

Brush the easiest part first.

Then, release the mouse button.

Repeat the above, as you progress to trickier areas.

By releasing the mouse button periodically, you won't have to undo everything if you misplace a brush stroke.

Tip #3

When brushing tricky areas, such as curly hair:

• Reduce the size of the brush.

• Increase or decrease feathering.


If you make a mistake when brushing, do one of the following.

1) Press Ctrl + z to undo the last brush work.

2) Press and hold Alt, and brush over the mistake.

Pressing and holding Alt is the same as clicking Erase in the Adjustment Brush panel.

If you click Erase, click A or B in the Adjustment Brush panel to go back to a regular brush.

Delete an Edited Area

If you want to delete an edited area:

1) Click on the pin for the area.

The pin is already black, or it will turn black.

2) Press Delete.

Paint with a Color

You can "dip" the Adjustment Brush into any color.

1) Click the color box to the right of Color.


Color Box

The Select a Color window appears.


Select a Color Window

2) Click a color inside the window.

3) Click the x in the upper-left corner to close the window.

Go to Select a Color Window.

Flow & Density


Flow is like paint coming out of a spray can.

When Flow is set to a low value, it's as if the spray can is passing quickly over the wall.

Very little paint is hitting the wall.

If the value is low, editing is being done, but slowly.

You can brush repeatedly over an area to build up the editing effect.


Density is the measure of how well the paint, the editing effect, is covering.

If the setting is low, you may be getting as much coverage that you expect.

Auto Mask

When you brush, Lightroom creates a mask where you're not brushing.

A mask is like when you use blue-masking tape when painting woodwork or a window.

Lightroom "places blue masking tape" down where you don't brush.

This mask blocks the effect.

Use Auto Mask

When you select Auto Mask near the bottom of the Adjustment Brush panel, Lightroom will help you confine the editing effect to a certain area.

Below, the letter B on a sign was brushed with Auto Mask off.

The letter was edited both on the letter and to the left of the letter.


Auto Mask Off

In the next photograph, the letter B was brushed with Auto Mask on.

The brush was moved on about the same path as it was in the top photograph.

Now, the brush only edited the letter.

The cyan-colored wall was not affected.

The Auto Mask feature confined the editing to just the letter, even though the wall was brushed.


Auto Mask On

Show the Mask

If you place the cursor on the pin, the edited area will show in red.

The non-red area is masked.

There's no effect where there's no mask.

If you would like to have the red area on all of the time, select Show Selected Mask Overlay in the tool bar.

Or, press o to toggle between hide and show.

To change the color of the red area, press Shift + o repeatedly.