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How To Use Lightroom Brushes

Published: 13/07/2021

One of the most powerful editing tools offered in Lightroom is the brushes. They play a huge role in the image editing process, enhancing your images drastically. Learning how to use the Lightroom brushes is a crucial part of the Lightroom workflow. Keep reading to know about Lightroom brushes, their usage, and some tips for using them more efficiently.

How to Use Lightroom Brushes to Produce Great Photos

When we are adjusting our images in Lightroom, we often want to edit them in such a way that only a particular area of the image is changed while the others remain unaffected. In such a scenario, Lightroom brushes come in handy. They allow you to make changes to specific areas of your images without disturbing any other spot.

Once you get familiar with the correct usage of Lightroom brushes, your overall editing procedure will transform. You will be able to edit faster and more efficiently. Moreover, Lightroom brushes allow you to make specific changes to your images as per your needs.

There are several Lightroom preset brushes that already come with the program. However, if you have any other specific brush requirements, you can also download Lightroom preset brushes from the internet and then add them on your Lightroom program

Let’s take a comprehensive look at Lightroom brushes, their settings and configurations, and the method of using them correctly. 

Using Lightroom Brushes

If you have been working on Lightroom for a while now, you must already know that Lightroom works on the basis of modules. The two most important modules include the ‘Library’ and ‘Develop’ modules. The library module is where all your imported images are stored, organized, and displayed.

The other important module in Lightroom is the develop module, where you perform the actual editing. This is where all the Lightroom editing tools are present, including the Lightroom adjustment brush. To understand the usage of this brush in a better way, we will be showing you a step-by-step tutorial. This will explain all the editing you can perform with this brush.

So, here are the steps to follow if you want to enhance your images through the Lightroom adjustment brush tool:

  1. Select a picture that you want to work on from the library module.
  2. Switch over to the develop module. You can do this by simply clicking on ‘Develop’ written on the top right side of your Lightroom screen.
  3. Once you enter the develop module, you will see the editing panel present on the right side of your Lightroom workspace. This editing panel contains all the editing tools and sliders that help you make modifications to your images.
  4. Here, you will also find the Lightroom adjustment brush right below the histogram representation of your original photo. The icon for the adjustment brush looks like a makeup brush. Just click on this icon to be able to use it on your image. Alternatively, you can also press the key ‘K’ to select the adjustment brush.
Lightroom adjustment brush tool
  1. As you select the brush tool, you will notice a change in the editing panel. You will now be able to see the different aspects of the Lightroom adjustment brush as it is divided into three different parts. These include Mask, Effect, and Brush. 
Lightroom adjustment brush options
  1. Let’s look at each of these subareas individually and what role they play in editing your image.
  • Mask: The Mask feature of the adjustment brush allows you to choose either you want to create a new adjustment or just want to edit an existing one. If you want to choose a new adjustment, then click on ‘New’ written beside Mask. If you want to use an existing adjustment, then select ‘Edit.’
  • Effect: This holds the pre-saved settings for your Lightroom brush tool. It has presets for adjustment brushes that you can select from the drop-down menu, and then move the sliders accordingly. You will find various sliders, representing different metrics of your image. You can adjust these siders to enhance your image in any way you want.
  • Brush: This defines the features of your Lightroom adjustment brush. It consists of different aspects of the brush, which you can change according to your needs. Now, let’s look at each of these brush settings individually.
Brush options in Lightroom
  • A and B: This allows you to choose between the two brushes, A and B. the two brushes have different configurations due to which they produce different editing effects.
  • Erase: This is quite self-explanatory. It allows you to remove any features that you have already brushed onto your image. This keeps your image unaffected and only deletes that brushing effect that you want to erase. Simply press the ALT key while using your brush tool if you want to use 'Erase.’
  • Size: This setting lets you control the size of your brush. You can increase or decrease it according to the area you want to edit.
  • Feather: This determines the intensity of your brush tool. When you increase the value for Feather, your brush becomes softer. On the other hand, decreasing it makes your brush harder.
  • Flow: The flow of the brush refers to its coverage. Decreasing the value for this attribute leads to low coverage, increasing the number of strokes required to paint over a specific area. Increasing the ‘Flow’ will produce full effect instantly.
  • Auto Mask: The ‘Auto Mask’ feature allows you to restrict the impact of your brush tool. When you select this feature, the Lightroom brush will determine the area covered by your image and will contain itself within. Checking this feature ensures that the brush tool only affects the area that you want.
  • Density: This defines the strength of your brush.

Once you have applied all the configurations and set all the above features as per your requirement, you can use the brush tool to enhance your image whichever way you want. The main method of using the brush tool is to ‘Paint over’ the area that you want to edit.

If you want to see the area that you have painted with your brush tool, then make sure to select the option for ‘Show Selected Mask Overlay.’ It is present on the bottom of your develop module workspace. 

Show Selected Mask Overlay feature in Lightroom

As you click on this option, your painted area will be highlighted with the color red, as shown in the image below:

Portion of an image with a color red highlight

If you want, you can also brush with color to optimize any specific color on your image. For this, you have to go to the bottom of the brush panel. Here, you will find an option for ‘Color.’ Pick any color you want from here, after which your brush will paint with the color you selected.

Color options in Lightroom

Once you have painted over the area you want to edit, you can then go to the editing panel and make the changes you like on the area you selected.

Anytime you want to use a new brush on your image, you can do that by picking up a new brush. To do this, select ‘New’ from the ‘Mask section present at the top of your adjustment brush panel. 

If you do not like the effect that the adjustment brush tool brings to your images, you can undo all the brushing effects by clicking on the ‘Reset’ button present at the bottom of your editing panel.


From the largest areas of your image to the tiniest elements, a Lightroom adjustment brush can help you edit it all with accuracy and precision. It helps you edit individual elements of your image without interfering with the rest of the photo. Once you learn to work with Lightroom brushes, you will be able to have a much fluent and fruitful image editing experience.