How to Use Adjustment Brush Tool in Lightroom

And though many amateur photographers think that Lightroom is not a really powerful tool for post-processing—alas, giving all the fame to sophisticated Adobe Photoshop—it actually has everything that you will need to turn the look of your photos upside down including a couple of advanced tools.

Today we will talk about Adjustment Brush—which is one of these advanced tools—that you can use to edit certain areas of the photo by painting over them with a brush.

As a matter of course, Adjustment Brush is not the only tool that you can use for local adjustments in Lightroom. Apart from it, you can give a try to Graduated Filter and Radial Filter. However, these two tools won’t let you make any exact local adjustment but only allow you to improve photos that either have horizontal lines or require making this or that part of the photo—which is not pronounced in shape—brighter or darker.

Adjustment Brush is different. It lets you paint over any part of the photo and apply one or a couple of effects to this area. Let’s see how it works by taking the photo below as an example—it has already been edited in Lightroom by applying basic effects—and making the sky look more drastic using Adjustment Brush.

As you can see, we cannot apply Gradual or Radial Filters here because there are neither horizontal lines nor oval/round objects. This is where Adjustment Brush tool comes in.


Choose Adjustment Brush filter from the menu, select the preferable brush size either with your mouse wheel or from the menu, set Feather to 0—this will make the lines you paint exact—and check Auto Mask box. By checking this box you are telling Lightroom to analyze the photo structure and paint only those parts of the picture that you want to paint.

For example, if we accidentally paint over the buildings when we had already started painting over the skies, the program will not touch the buildings.

Then scroll up in the interface of Adjustment Brush and check out all available effects. However, don’t worry about them right now and simply start painting. If you are not sure about the areas that you have covered or not, scroll over the Adjustment Brush point on the photo and you will see the areas that have been painted over and those that you’ve missed.

If you have spread over the areas you didn’t want to cover, simply choose Erase tool in the menu and erase everything that is not necessary.

Congratulations, we’re 90% done. Now it’s time to pass on to choosing and applying the effect. In order to darken the sky and make it look more dramatic, you can decrease Highlights, Shadows, Exposure, Blacks as well as Temperature and increase Contrast and Clarity.

You can either do all of it or pick out a couple of effects you like most and play with them. However, if you are planning to go for all of them, be sure not to overdo it because it will make the skies—or anything else that you’re editing—make unnatural and repulsive.

That’s about it. Check out the after photo—which edited in less than 10 minutes—and start using this awesome tool in your post-processing workflow.

We hope that this article was of help to you and we’ll be glad to answer your questions in comments. Feel free to shoot us a message!

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