Super-Powerful Lightroom Adjustment Brush Tips to Make Editing Easier

Our Lightroom Local Adjustment presets are designed to be strong enough to handle most photo editing situations that you can throw at them.

We have local presets in the following Lightroom preset collections:

Odds are, there are some photos that the default settings of our presets will be great on, and others that our local presets will be just too strong for. That’s why saving a low opacity soft brush in Lightroom is so handy. With one click, you can change your brush from one that paints at full force to one that allows you to paint on the effect gradually, building it up from a lower strength to one that’s just right.

Lightroom Adjustment Brush Tips

To save a low opacity brush, activate your Local Adjustment brush in Lightroom (next to the arrow in the screenshot below).


panel options1


Next, click on the letter B (circled, near the bottom of the screen shot above). Select the settings YOU would like to memorize for Size, Feather and Auto Mask.  Remember, you can make this customizable for your style!

  • For me, the size I program in here doesn’t matter, because I change it frequently by using the keystrokes on my keyboard [ to make it smaller and ] to make it larger.
  • Feathering is usually best for me somewhere between 50 and 75.
  • The Flow slider is key for this tutorial. Flow works like brush opacity in Photoshop. A flow of 16 will apply your effect in an amount equal to about 16%. You can apply additional brush strokes to an area to increase the effect in increments of about 16%. So, two passes with a 16 Flow brush will equal about 30% coverage.

When I activate my A brush, rather than the B brush we’ve just programmed, Flow is set to 100. I use that for areas that need strong edits. And whenever I click on B, my settings change to those that you see in the screenshot above.

Want to change either your A or B settings? Click on the letter and then adjust the sliders. Lightroom will remember your last used settings until the next time you change them.

Those of you who use Lightroom’s adjustment brush frequently probably know that typing the letter O while using it will show a red overlay on your image to indicate where you’ve painted. If you’ve used a low Flow brush, this red will be lighter.


It is Time to See This Example In Action

Taking this photo, for example, I used MCP’s Dodge Ball, from the InFusion collection of presets, to lighten his face and eyes. You can see the faint red overlay on his face, where I used a brush with a flow of 16.  On his eyes, however, I used a Flow of 100 and the red is much darker.


red overlay example small

These settings produced this before and after:

adjustment brush edit lightroom-4

Remember, in order to get the most out of the efficiency that MCP’s presets offer, make sure you know how to get the most out of Lightroom’s tools! Using your A & B brushes will not only be a big time saver, but will also give that much more flexibility to your edits.  Enjoy!

Erin Peloquin

Erin Peloquin is Lightroom & Photoshop Elements instructor. She also works for Jodi here at MCP to create great editing tools for Lightroom & Elements. Her portfolio is at Time in a Camera.

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