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How to Use the Brush Tool in Adobe Lightroom

The Brush tool in Adobe Lightroom is a useful feature for fine-tuning specific parts of your photo. It can often work better than the Radial Gradient filter; one of the main advantages of the Brush tool is that you can erase areas you’ve drawn over more easily.

Using the Brush feature in Lightroom is quite easy when you’ve gotten used to it, but the initial stages can be quite challenging. To help you reduce the learning curve, we’re going to show you how to utilize the tool in this guide.

The Brush tool is designed for users who want to edit specific parts of their photos in Lightroom. This isn’t always possible if you use the main sliders in the app, as those normally adjust the entire picture.

With the Brush tool, you can draw over multiple areas in your photo. In this respect, it’s different from the Radial Gradient filter—where you create different filters and have fewer freehand capabilities.

It’s worth noting that using the Brush tool in Lightroom is quite different from using the Brush tool in Photoshop.

Now that you have a better understanding of why the Brush tool in Lightroom exists, let’s walk through how to use the feature. To fine-tune your photos further, you may also want to see our guide on the different distractions that you can remove from an image in Lightroom.

1. Zoom In on Your Photo

Before commencing with the Brush tool in Lightroom, we recommend zooming in on your photo to achieve a closer edit. To do this:

Hover your cursor over the part of your picture you’d like to use the Brush for. Click once with your mouse or trackpad to zoom in. To change how much you want to zoom in, go to Navigator. Then, select the icon with one upward-facing and one downward-facing arrow. Choose the percentage you want to change your image zoom to.

Change the zoom of a photo in Adobe Lightroom

If you want to change your entire image, you can enlarge your photos in Lightroom with Super Resolution.

2. Choose the Brush Size

Now that you’ve changed the zoom to meet your needs, you’re ready to use the Brush tool. The next step is to change your Brush size. Below are the instructions you should follow to do that:

Go to the Masking icon.

The Masking Icon in Adobe Lightroom

Either tap K on your keyboard or choose the Brush option.

Select the Brush Icon in Adobe Lightroom

Move the Size slider until you’re happy with the size. You can also adjust the other sliders, such as Feather and Flow if you feel that doing so is necessary.

The Brush Size Slider Ready for Adjusting in Adobe Lightroom

If you’re a Lightroom beginner, see these Lightroom mistakes that could be ruining your photos.

3. Change the Sliders for Your Brush

After you’ve adjusted your Lightroom Brush size, the next step is to adjust the sliders to achieve what you’re trying to change in your photos. You can increase the saturation and various lighting aspects—such as shadows and highlights.

The Different Sliders That You Can Adjust in Lightroom Brush

Change the sliders however you feel is necessary. You don’t need to tweak all of them, and it’s also a good idea not to go overboard with your edits.

You can always edit these later after applying the Brush, so don’t worry too much. Another option is to apply the Brush first and then make the changes after the fact.

4. Apply the Brush to Your Photo

Applying the Brush tool to your photos in Lightroom is very easy. All you have to do is draw over the sections of your photos where you want to add the effects.

The Red Draw Mask Features in Adobe Lightroom

To make sure that you can see where you’re doing, it’s a good idea to tick the Show Overlay box. You will then see the areas that you’ve drawn over in your photo appear in red.

5. Erase Areas Where You’ve Overdrawn

Drawing freehand in any computer program can lead to inaccurate results. The good news is that making adjustments in Lightroom with the Brush tool is easy when needing to erase certain sections.

The process differs depending on which device you use. If you use a Mac, hold down the Option key, and you’ll see a hyphen (-) icon appear on your screen. Draw over the areas in red where you’d like to erase the effects.

On a Windows computer, you’ll need to press the Alt key instead. After that, erase the areas you want to get rid of.

While many photographers use Lightroom or Photoshop, you don’t need to pick one or the other. There are numerous ways that you can use Lightroom and Photoshop together.

6. Return to the Main Editing Window

Once you’ve finished making your edits with the Brush tool in Lightroom, you might still want to adjust other areas of your photo. With this in mind, knowing how to return to the main editing window is a good idea.

The process is quite simple:

Press the Enter key on your computer. Select the Edit icon in Lightroom—the one that features different sliders.

The Option to Select the Edit Tool in Adobe Lightroom

Another aspect of Lightroom that can help you create high-quality edits is the Histogram tool. It can be used with not only the Brush tool but several other sliders and features. Knowing how to work with the Histogram in Lightroom is essential if you want to become an advanced photo editor.

The Brush tool is one of the most underrated features in Adobe Lightroom, and you can use it to make finer edits to specific parts of your photo. You can adjust the lighting and color, and it’s a great choice if you’ve noticed one aspect that you really want to make stand out—such as certain buildings or people.

Applying your changes is pretty straightforward, and you can use the Brush with more flexibility than some of Lightroom’s other tools. And if you’ve drawn over too much of your picture, you’ll also find it easy to remove those parts.


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