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Lightroom Tool Tip—Mastering the Brush Tool


Lightroom has so many great features that it is hard NOT to think that they are all “the best” feature or “my favorite” feature. But today I want to share with you 5 reasons the brush tool is all sorts of FABULOUSNESS.

Make Specific Changes

The brush tool allows you to “paint” on changes to a specific area of a photo. It is super easy. If it is a change that I want to make to only a small area of my photo, I use a brush to make that change. I use the brush tool to lighten, darken, or saturate different areas of a photo. I also use the brush tool to whiten my subject’s teeth, smooth my subject's skin, and sharpen my subjects eyes.

Simplicity=Ultra amazing!

What Changes Can You Make?

When you click on the brush tool you will see MANY sliders. These are all the things that you can brush on specific areas of your photo. You can also brush on ANY COMBINATION of the sliders. Let’s say that we want to saturate and darken the sky in our photo. We can decrease the brightness and increase the saturation and paint both of those changes on at the same time. And really—the possibilities and combinations are endless.
Endless possibilities=amazing tool!

Brushes and Pins

As soon as you click on the photo with the brush tool, a pin will appear. This pin will apply the combination of settings you pick to areas you paint with the brush.

If you’d like to make different changes to another part of the photo, you’ll need to click “new” at the top of the brush panel. Then start painting on the new area that you want to affect and a new pin will appear. The active pin will be the pin with the dark spot in the middle.

If you want to go back and make changes to the first pin, just hover over the pin and click on it with the hand tool that appears. The pin you click will become the active pin and you can make any changes or additions to that pin now. You can go back and forth between pins or delete them entirely by pressing the “delete” key on your keyboard if you find that you don’t like the changes you made.

If the Pins become distracting to you, just type the "H" key to make them disappear and then press it again to make them reappear.

Super flexible=super awesome!!

Adjusting Your Pins

So let’s say that we are not all practicing painters who are skilled at using a brush and we make a MISTAKE and paint over area that we really don’t want to be affected. What do we do now? The brush tool comes with an “erase” setting. Just click “erase” and the little “+” you are used to seeing in the center of the brush tool will change to a “-“ and you can now remove areas that you previously painted.
You can also get the erase tool by pressing and holding the “alt” key. When you release “alt” the brush will go back to normal. Another cool feature of the brush tool comes when you click the “auto mask” box. This setting will find the edges of the area that you are painting and try to help you to “stay within the lines” as long as you keep the little “+” in the center of the brush tool inside the tones that you want changed.
Please Note: I don't recommend having the "auto mask" box checked when working on skin.  Because all the tones on skin are relatively the same with few edges it will miss areas and leave black, speckled dots on the skin.
Smarter and better than me=All sorts of incredible!

Brush Presets

Lightroom comes with certain brush presets to help you use the brush tool. You can find these by clicking the words or double arrow next to the word “Effect.”
You can also purchase some wonderful time-saving brush presets from Pretty Presets. These presets have all the sliders set to perform different functions for you from sharpening eyes to fixing color casts on skin and fixing undereye circles and wrinkles. The Perfect Portrait Brushes are amazing and I can't imaging editing my images without them!
Saving time=Totally exciting!

Shortcut to the Brush Tool

Oh, and one last quick tip—type the “K” key from anywhere in Lightroom to open up the Develop Module with the brush tool immediately active. If you are already in the Develop Module, you can still press the “K” key to open up the brush panel. Press “K” again to close it when you are done!

I hope you now feel ready to take on and experiment with the FABULOUSNESS that is the brush tool!


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