Lightroom has a plethora of tools you can use to edit an image. One such tool is the Adjustment Brush tool. It lets you edit specific areas in the photo as opposed to the whole photo. This is very similar to a brush tool in Photoshop which allows you to add colours to the area you brush over. Adjustment brush is a powerful tool, but learning it can be a bit challenging. In this article, I am going to walk you through how to use the tool and a give you a few tips to make it easier to use.


Adjustment brush is particularly helpful when you want to perform edits to a certain part of a photo. This helps you draw attention to the area you want to highlight. You can increase or decrease the exposure, add saturation, increase sharpness and a lot more, to specific areas of the photo using this tool.


Using the tool

You can activate the tool by using the keyboard shortcut key (K) or by clicking on the Adjustment Brush tool icon below the histogram. A snapshot of the icon is show below:


lightroom adjustment brush tool

Once activated, a panel opens with a number of sliders giving you control of various settings. A snapshot of the panel is shown below:

Lightroom adobe sliders

These sliders can be tweaked according to your requirements and the edits can be applied by brushing over the required area. This tool also lets you control the brush size, feather and flow to better suit your editing needs.


Tips for easier use

  1. Overlay – Gives you a view of the edits applied on the image with the help of a colour overlay. This is useful when you want to view the areas over which the edits have been applied. Overlay can be activated by pressing the “O” key in the keyboard. Colour overlay is usually displayed in red, but this can be changed by pressing “Shift + O”.


A snapshot of the overlay is shown below:


Adobe lightroom overlay brush tool


  1. Erase – When using the brush tool, you might brush over areas that you do not want to edit. If this happens, there is no need to hit undo. All you have to do is erase the edits that you do not want. This can be done by clicking on erase in the brush setting panel or by holding the ALT key and brushing over the edits previously done.


  1. Auto Mask – Since the brush tool is circular and does not offer any other shape, it can be hard to edit sharp edges perfectly. This is where auto mask comes into the picture. When turned on, it confines the edits to the areas similar to where you started brushing. It will contain the edits inside the desired area and prevent any unwanted spillage from happening. It is a saving grace when you want to edit a particular area with precision, without having to repeat the process a few times to get it done perfectly.


  1. Adding colour to the brush – You can use this tool when you want to get creative and add colours to your photo. This can be done by clicking on the white rectangular box with a cross mark inside it. A panel opens up where you choose the colour you want. After selecting the colour, all you have to do is brush over the desired area.


  1. Custom Brush Presets: Lightroom helps you make edits with the help of presets. Similar to other develop presets,you can create custom brush presets for the adjustment brush tool that suit your workflow. Creating a preset is really simple. Simply move the sliders to the required values and click on the preset drop down list. Then click on “save current setting as new preset”.


Adjustment brush is a very effective tool that gives you a lot more control over the area you edit compared to the other tools available in Lightroom. It is a ‘must know’ to be more creative with your edits.