Top 10 Tips on Using Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush

The adjustment brush is such a powerful tool in Lightroom. You can do so much with this tool like soften certain parts of an image, dodge and burn key elements of the photo, and many other local adjustments. Check out our past article on how to soften skin with the adjustment brush. There are lots of little tricks and tips that can help you out with the Lightroom Adjustment Brush and here are my top 10 tips for using this tool.

Top 10 Tips on Using Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush

1. First to access the Adjustment Brush you can always use the keyboard shortcut K.

2. Before you start brushing on an effect you will want to fine tune your brush. If you are painting in an area that has very distinct edges you should turn on the auto mask feature. You can also turn the auto mask on or off by holding down the Command key as you paint (or Control on the PC).

lightroom adjustment brush auto mask

3. When setting the brush size you can use the [ and ] buttons to increase and decreases the brush size. If you hold the shift key while pressing [ or ] this will adjust the feather of the brush.

4. After you start brushing in an adjustment it will add a pin to the image. Since you can have as many different adjustments as you need to on one photo (really helpful if you need to darken part of a photo then lighten another part) the pins will help you go back to a adjustment mask and edit it later if needed. If the pin has a black center then its the active pin, if it has a white center its an inactive mask that you currently aren’t editing. Click on the pin to make it active.

5. You can also change some of the pin settings at the very bottom of the screen. So if you don’t want to automatically show the pins you can turn them off here.
adjustmentbrush pin

6. To quickly toggle the pins on/off just hit the H key.

7. If you want to see the mask that you have painted on you can either roll your mouse over the pin and hold it there for a few seconds or click on the O key. You can also hold down Shift while clicking O to cycle few a few different colors Lightroom has to show the mask. This makes it real easy to see exactly where you brushed the effects in.


8. Hold the option key (Alt with PC) to switch to the eraser brush and remove any of the adjustments.

9. If you want to completely remove a adjustment mask just click on the pin and then hit the delete key.

10. When making color adjustments to a mask (really useful for adding a sunset to a photo or changing the color of a shirt from green to blue) you can use the color picker to choose any color in the image. First click on the color swatch icon under the sharpness slider. Then select a color within the popup and hold down the mouse. While you are still holding down the mouse move the cursor over to the image, as you scroll around the image the color picker will choose any color that you are hovering over.


What are some of your favorite tips in Lightroom? Or have a question you need help with in your photography? Just leave a comment below.

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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  1. The basics of the adjustment brush in Lightroom 4 | Digital Photo Buzz - [...] Top 10 tips on using Lightrooms adjustment brushes [...]

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