Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush tool is one of its most powerful and most important in your editing process. The adjustments you can make with these brushes will dramatically improve your edits and help you produce your best photos yet! By using this tool, you will be able to make adjustments to specific areas of your photo, rather than the whole thing, allowing you to make changes like enhancing the exposure of the sky, whitening someone’s teeth, or a whole list of other adjustments that will help you create beautiful photos.
Although Lightroom does include some preset brushes already, you can also download other preset brushes so you can apply even more complex edits in just a few clicks. If you choose to download preset brushes, though, you will need to know how to install them! Keep reading below to learn how to install your Lightroom Brushes and some tips for using them!
How to Install Lightroom Brushes
Step 1: On a PC, select the “Edit” menu from the top bar, then click “Preferences”. On a Mac, navigate to the “Lightroom” menu in the top bar, then click “Preferences”.
Step 2: This will cause your “Preferences” box to appear. In this box, there will be several tabs across the top. The one you need to select is “Presets”, which will be the second tab.
Step 3: Click on the box labelled “Show All Other Lightroom Presets”.
Step 4: When this box opens, double-click on “Lightroom”, then open the “Local Adjustment Presets” folder.
Step 5: Open a new window and navigate to the folder on your computer where you have saved your preset files. Then, copy the files from that folder and paste them into the “Local Adjustment Presets” folder.
Step 6: Restart Lightroom in order to get your new brushes to show up, and then your brushes are all ready to use!
Step 7: To start using your first brush, activate the brush tool in the Develop tab, click the dropdown next to “Effect”, and select the brush you would like to use.
Using Lightroom Brushes
Once your brushes are installed, you are all set to start using them! This tool has a lot of different capabilities, so here are some basic tips to get you started:
1. The brush tool is divided into three subareas: Mask, Effect, and Brush.
Mask: This is where we choose a new adjustment or edit an existing one, by selecting either “New” or “Edit”.
Effect: Here, you can adjust the various sliders to create any edit you could possibly imagine. Lightroom has some effects built in, which you can access from the dropdown menu, but you can also adjust the sliders yourself to create your own edits, and then save them as presets as well, which will then appear in the dropdown with Lightroom’s premade ones. You can also purchase/download preset brushes, which will show up in the same area after you have installed them.
Brush: This is where you can fine-tune the settings of the brush itself. There are multiple settings you can adjust within this menu:
• A and B: Here, you can toggle between two different brushes, and have them both easily at your disposal while you edit. You can switch between the two using the slash (/) key.
• Erase: This allows you to delete features you have already brushed onto the image, without using the “Undo” function and without affecting the image itself. While using the brush tool, simply hold down the “Alt” key if you are using a PC or the “Option” key if you are using a Mac, and your brush will switch to an eraser brush. Let go, and it will go right back to the brush you were using before.
• Size: Controls how large or small the brush is. You can control this through the slider or by using the scroll on your mouse.
• Feather: Low feathering results in a hard brush with a very narrow space between the inner and outer circle for the brush tool, while high feathering results in a softer brush.
• Flow: This determines how your brush strokes add up to reach 100% coverage. With low flow, you will need many brush strokes to gradually reach full effect, while 100% flow will result in full effect immediately.
• Auto Mask: This automatically detects area borders within your image and keeps the brush actions within those borders. This way, you are not applying the effect to areas you do not want to apply it to.
• Density: The strength of the brushing. This is similar to flow, but the main difference is that density does not act additively.
2. Seeing Where You’ve Brushed
Make sure the Lightroom adjustment brush that you wish to view is selected, and then check the box under your photo that says “show selected mask overlay.” This will highlight – in red – all of the areas that have already been adjusted with that particular brush.
3. Brush With Colour
If you are looking to enhance a specific colour on your image, you can select a colour at the bottom of the brush panel to use within your adjustment brush. You can still adjust settings like exposure and flow and everything else, while also applying a colour to that area of your photo. This is a great way to add extra colour to your photo in order to enhance eyes, the sky in a landscape, change the colour of the flowers, and more.
4. Using a New Brush
Each time you want to start using a new brush and apply a different set of adjustments, you will need to “pick up” a new brush. In order to do this, select “New” at the top of the adjustment brush panel. After you do this, you will notice that all of the sliders remain in place from the previous brush. To reset them, double click “Effect” to reset all sliders, or select a new brush preset from the drop down menu.
With these tips in hand, you will be a master of your Lightroom brushes in no time at all! Continually experiment with the adjustments you can make with these brushes and try out new ones, and you will soon be producing the best edits you’ve ever made!