Introduction to Spot Fixing with the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom - Digital Photography School
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Introduction to Spot Fixing with the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom

One of the exciting new features in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 is the adjustment brush which lets you to make spot fixes to your image in Lightroom. These fixes apply to only the area you select rather than the entire image. This means you can make local adjustments for contrast, saturation, exposure, brightness, clarity and sharpness without having to take the image to Photoshop to do this.

In this post I’ll show you how to get started using the adjustment brush in Lightroom. 2

Step 1

adjustment-brush_step1.jpg
Open Lightroom and click the Develop module. Locate the Adjustment Brush and click it to select it. Hold the brush over the image to check its size. The inner circle is the hard part of the brush and the outer circle shows the edge of the feathering. To adjust the brush size use the [ and ] keys or adjust the Size and Feather using the sliders.

Step 2

adjustment-brush_step2.jpg
Select the adjustment to make, such as Brightness or Saturation by clicking its + symbol to increase its value or the – symbol to decrease it. Then start painting on the image to adjust that part of the image. When you start painting the effect onto the image, Lightroom places an identifying marker on the screen. Here I have Brightness selected and the marker is visible.

Step 3

adjustment-brush_step3.jpg

If you don’t know where you have painted – and it’s often very hard to know exactly – press the O key to view or hide a mask which shows the area you have painted on. If you prefer to, you can display the mask as you work. The mask also appears if you hold your mouse over the marker.
To erase the brush strokes, click the Erase option in the brush area and erase over the area to remove the strokes. To return to painting click brush A which is the default brush and continue to paint over the area. You can also use the brush with the Alt (Option on the Mac) to remove the painted areas rather than switching between the brush and eraser.

Step 4

adjustment-brush_step4.jpg
If the effect is too much or too little you can adjust the intensity of the effect using the slider.

Step 5

adjustment-brush_step5.jpg
If another area of the image requires fixing, click the New option and then repeat the steps to select a fix and then paint it onto that part of the image. Later on you can adjust either of the fixes by first clicking the Adjustment Brush tool to select it and then click on the marker for the area to change – you will see that the word Edit is now highlighted – and you can now adjust the painted area or adjust the amount of the fix.
In a future post I will look at some more advanced functions of the Adjustment Brush.

Read more from our Post Production category.

Helen Bradley is a Lifestyle journalist who divides her time between the real and digital worlds, picking the best from both. She writes and produces video instruction for Photoshop and digital photography for magazines and online providers world wide. She has also written four books on photo crafts and blogs at Projectwoman.com.

  • Brian B

    These tools also work the same in Bridge+ACR 5 (For those that have PS CS4, but not Lightroom).

  • http://www.nmephoto.com Nick Enghardt

    It’s funny, I was just experimenting with the brush tool in Lightroom when I took a break and found this article. This tool is SO powerful, and I thank the Adobe Gods for it. Now I don’t have to drop an image into Photoshop to do spot adjustments like this anymore! This helps immensely with keeping my workflow smooth and fast.

    Thanks for a brief primer on the brush tool!

  • derek

    Many thanks Helen for your superb coaching. Whenever I’m looking to develop a new skill in LR I’m always delighted if I find you have a tutorial on the subject. Your explanations and presentations are models of clarity. I’m grateful to D-P-S and you for all your help.
    Best regards
    Derek

  • Shelley-Ann

    This tutorial is perfect. Step by step with screen shots….couldn’t have been easier to follow. I’m going to look for more tutorials by Helen Bradley.

  • http://www.heatherbrandt.com Heather

    My markers are not showing any more when I use adjustment brush! I think I must have accidentally changed a setting. Any idea of how to get it back to showing the little circles/markers?

    heather (at) heatherbrandt (dot) com

  • http://basildesignworks.com Lisa

    My markers have disapeared as well. I can’t figure out how to get them back and I’m unable to edit adjustments I make and then want to go back to tweak. Any help would be appreciated.

  • http://basildesignworks.com Lisa

    My markers have disappeared as well. I can’t figure out how to get them back and I’m unable to edit adjustments I make and then want to go back to tweak. Any help would be appreciated.

Some older comments

  • Lisa

    September 16, 2010 06:24 am

    My markers have disappeared as well. I can't figure out how to get them back and I'm unable to edit adjustments I make and then want to go back to tweak. Any help would be appreciated.

  • Lisa

    September 16, 2010 06:23 am

    My markers have disapeared as well. I can't figure out how to get them back and I'm unable to edit adjustments I make and then want to go back to tweak. Any help would be appreciated.

  • Heather

    September 4, 2010 12:28 pm

    My markers are not showing any more when I use adjustment brush! I think I must have accidentally changed a setting. Any idea of how to get it back to showing the little circles/markers?

    heather (at) heatherbrandt (dot) com

  • Shelley-Ann

    July 22, 2010 12:02 am

    This tutorial is perfect. Step by step with screen shots....couldn't have been easier to follow. I'm going to look for more tutorials by Helen Bradley.

  • derek

    July 17, 2010 10:05 am

    Many thanks Helen for your superb coaching. Whenever I'm looking to develop a new skill in LR I'm always delighted if I find you have a tutorial on the subject. Your explanations and presentations are models of clarity. I'm grateful to D-P-S and you for all your help.
    Best regards
    Derek

  • Nick Enghardt

    February 11, 2009 02:52 am

    It's funny, I was just experimenting with the brush tool in Lightroom when I took a break and found this article. This tool is SO powerful, and I thank the Adobe Gods for it. Now I don't have to drop an image into Photoshop to do spot adjustments like this anymore! This helps immensely with keeping my workflow smooth and fast.

    Thanks for a brief primer on the brush tool!

  • Brian B

    February 10, 2009 12:43 am

    These tools also work the same in Bridge+ACR 5 (For those that have PS CS4, but not Lightroom).

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