Learn how to edit part of a photo using selective editing tools in Lightroom.
Use the Radial Gradient tool to adjust parts of a photo in Lightroom.
In this tutorial, you'll learn how to use the different selective editing tools to make adjustments to part of a photo, starting in this lesson with the Radial Gradient tool. First, if you downloaded the sample files from the Adobe web page for this tutorial, add them to Lightroom as we've been doing throughout these tutorials. Click the Add Photos button here, navigate to the sample files and in the Import preview window, make an album for these files if you like and click Add Photos. If you need more help with how to add files, you can always revisit the first tutorial in this "Get Started" series. Select this photo and then go over to the Edit button or press E on your keyboard. These selective editing tools are located in the column on the far right. The Radial Gradient tool lets you edit just part of a photo in a circular or oval pattern, kind of like a spotlight. So, go ahead and click the Radial Gradient tool and that changes the column of editing controls from global controls to controls that will affect only the areas where you add radial gradients. Now, at this point, you could just move into the image and drag out an oval or circular shaped gradient. But before I do that, I'm going to go to the Exposure slider and drag it to the left, just so that you can better see the radial gradient that I'm about to add. And then, I'll move into the image and I'm just going to drag out an oval or circular shape. If you want a circular shape, hold down the Shift key as you drag. Although it may look like I just brightened the area inside of the border, the center of this shape is actually the same light tone that it always was. What's really happening is that my darkening adjustment is being applied most strongly outside the oval border. And it's gradually fading in at the edges of the border, which is why this tool is called a Gradient tool. When I hover over the blue pin at the center of this shape, a red mask appears. The red mask shows where the adjustment is being applied. When I move my cursor away from the pin to another part of the photo, the red mask disappears. And if I move my cursor off the photo completely, the border and the pin disappear too. Now, let's move this radial gradient where we want it and reshape it. I'll go back and hover over the pin and then I'll click, hold and drag the radial gradient on top of the model. I'd like this radial gradient to cover more of the model, so I'm going to change its shape by dragging any of the circles around the edge of the border. I'd like less of a darkening effect around the model. So, I'll go over to the Exposure slider and I'm going to drag that more toward the center. But that's not all. I can apply multiple adjustments to the same gradient. For example, I'd like to saturate the color of the wood. So, I'll go to the Saturation slider, and if I drag the Saturation slider to the left, that desaturates the colors outside of this radial gradient border. If I drag to the right, it saturates those colors. Let's try adding another adjustment to this radial gradient too. I'll go to the Clarity slider and I'll drag that to the right, and that sharpens and adds contrast to the mid-tones, which brings out some of the wood grain in the fence. I can also change the softness of the edge of this radial gradient. To do that, I'll go up to the Feather slider, and if I drag that all the way over to the left, you can see the edge of my radial gradient getting harder. And if I drag to the right, that edge gets softer. When I'm happy with my radial gradient, there's nothing that I have to do to save it. I could just go forward sharing this photo or making other adjustments. I have more than one radial gradient. Let's go in and make another radial gradient. This time I'll hold the Shift key and drag to make a circular gradient, and I'm going to invert this gradient so that the adjustments I add to it will affect only the inside of the gradient. To do that, I'll come over to the column on the right, and I'll click Invert. Now, I'm going to increase Exposure to lighten the area inside of this gradient. And I might add another effect too. Maybe I'll drag the Temp slider to the right to warm up this spotlight with some yellow. So, now that I've got multiple radial gradients on this image, each one is represented by a different blue pin. If I want to make changes to one of these, I'll just select its pin. Let's select that spotlight radial gradient again, and you could delete a radial gradient altogether by right clicking or Control clicking on a Mac on its pin and choosing Delete. So that's how to edit part of a photo with radial gradients. There are lots of practical and creative uses for this tool. So, have fun experimenting with it on your own photos.
What you learned: Use the Radial Gradient tool
- With a photo selected, click the Radial Gradient tool in the column on the right.
- Click and drag to create a radial gradient with a blue pin surrounded by an oval border. Hover over the pin to view a red mask that defines the part of the photo affected by adjustments you apply to this gradient. By default, adjustments affect the area outside a radial gradient.
- To move a radial gradient, select its pin and drag. You might position a radial gradient over a subject you want to highlight. To change the shape of a radial gradient, click and drag any of the circles on its border.
- To apply adjustments to the part of the photo affected by this radial gradient, make sure its pin is selected; then adjust one or more sliders in the Radial Gradient panel. For example, drag the Exposure slider to the left to darken the area outside a radial gradient, giving the effect of a lighter spotlight on a subject inside the gradient. You can add color, effects, and other adjustments to the same radial gradient.
- To create another radial gradient in the photo, click and drag again and set some adjustment sliders for this radial gradient. Click the Invert checkbox in the Radial Gradient panel to apply these adjustments to the inside of this radial gradient.
- To make changes to a radial gradient in the future, select the Radial Gradient tool. Then select the pin for the gradient you want to change and adjust sliders in the Radial Gradient panel.
Use the Linear Gradient tool to adjust parts of a photo separately in Lightroom.
The Linear Gradient tool is another selective editing tool that lets you apply adjustments to just part of an image. This tool works great on landscape photos. So, let's select this beautiful landscape photo and then come on over to the Edit icon or press E on the keyboard. The Linear Gradient tool is located on the far right, just above the Radial Gradient. Select the Linear Gradient and that replaces the global editing controls in this column with controls that will affect only linear gradients that we add to this photo. I'd like this photo to be lighter in the foreground to draw more attention to the canoeist. So, I'll start by dragging the Exposure slider over to the right, and it doesn't really matter where I put this because I can always adjust it later. I'll move into the image and I'll start to create a linear gradient. Now, you can start on the right or the left or the top or the bottom. I know that I want the strongest part of this effect to cover the entire lake. So, I'm going to start at the top of the lake and drag up. Notice that as I drag, my gradient is tilting. If you want your gradient to be straight as you drag, hold down the Shift key. When I hover over the blue pin that represents this gradient, a red mask appears that shows us where the adjustments will be applied and at what strength. This tells us that the adjustments will be strongest at the bottom of the image, that they'll fade out between the bottom line and the middle line, and then they'll fade further between the middle line and the top line, at which point they'll end. Now I don't want to make too much of a change to the sky with these adjustments, but I want to be sure to affect the canoeist, including his hat. So, I'm going to reshape this linear gradient by going to the top line and dragging down. And that makes it narrower, and then I'll drag up, above the canoeist's hat. Now, let's apply some adjustments to this linear gradient. I'll go over to the right and there, I'll drag the Exposure slider even further to the right. Notice as I do that, the foreground is lightening up. That's a bit too much, so, we'll put it just about there. I'd like to warm up the foreground a little too. So, I'll go to the Temp slider and I'll drag that over to the right. Notice that the mountain in the background has gotten lighter too, and that's because it's in the full-strength area of the gradient. So, I'd like to remove the mountain and maybe the sky up here from the effects of this gradient. To do that, I'll go to the top of the column of Linear Gradient controls and there is an Eraser brush. I'll click on that brush, I'll move into the image and I'll see if my brush looks just about the right size to cover the mountain. If it doesn't, you can drag the Size slider under the Eraser brush in the column on the right. And then, I'm going to start to paint away the linear gradient adjustments where they're impacting the mountain. Now, sometimes as you're doing this, it helps to actually see the red mask overlay. To see the mask, press O on your keyboard and then continue to paint and you can see what you're doing. So, I'm going to remove the red mask from the sky, from the mountains, and from over on this side, being careful not to erase the mask from the hat, where I do want it to apply. Now, let's say that by mistake, I do erase part of the mask from the hat. Then I'll go back to the column on the right and I'll select this Brush tool, - not to be confused with the regular Brush tool over here on the right - but this brush that works with the linear gradient. So, I'll come into the image and I'll just paint back in where I want the mask to be effective. Now, to dismiss the red overlay, I'm going to press O on my keyboard again. And to compare a before and after view, I'll come down to the Before/After icon or I'll press Backslash on my keyboard. So, that's how the image looked without the linear gradient, and here's how it looks with the linear gradient. Let's add another linear gradient to this image. This time to make the sky more dramatic because you can have multiple linear gradients on your photos. With the Linear Gradient tool selected at the top of the column on the right, I'll move into the image and this time, I'm going to click and drag from the middle down, so that I'm adding a gradient that has its strongest effect at the top of the image. To apply adjustments to this gradient, I'll come over to the column on the right and this time I'm going to put Exposure back to 0 because I don't want the sky lighter. I'll double-click the circle on the Exposure slider, I'll leave the temperatures set toward warm, and I'll come down to the Dehaze slider and I'm going to drag that to the right to add some drama. Let's compare a before and after view again. So, there's where we started with this photo, and here's how it looks now with those two linear gradients. Either of the linear gradients can be changed at any time by just selecting a Linear Gradient tool again and then coming into the image and selecting the pin that represents the gradient that you want to change. And then fine-tuning the adjustments on that gradient. So, I hope that gives you some ideas about how you can use the Linear Gradient tool in Lightroom to enhance your own photos.
What you learned: Use the Linear Gradient tool
- With a photo selected, click the Linear Gradient tool in the column on the right.
- Create a linear gradient to apply adjustments to just part of a photo. For example, to adjust the foreground of a landscape photo, drag up from the bottom of the photo. Hold the Shift key as you drag if you want to keep the linear gradient straight. Hover over the pin on the center line of the gradient to view a red mask that shows the gradually fading pattern in which your adjustments will be applied.
- To fine-tune the shape of a linear gradient, click the top or bottom line of the gradient and drag. To move the gradient, click its pin and drag. To rotate it, click its center line and drag.
- To apply adjustments to the part of the photo affected by this linear gradient, make sure its pin is selected; then adjust one or more sliders in the Linear Gradient panel.
- You can erase part of a selected Linear Gradient by selecting the Eraser icon at the top of the Linear Gradient panel and painting over an area affected by the gradient. Or you can add to a Linear Gradient by selecting the small Brush icon at the top of the Linear Gradient panel and painting.
- To create another linear gradient, click and drag again in the photo and set some adjustment sliders for this gradient. For example, you might create another linear gradient with different adjustments to affect the sky.
- To make changes to a gradient at any time, select the Linear Gradient tool. Then select the pin for the gradient you want to change and adjust sliders in the Linear Gradient panel.
Adjust part of an image with the Brush tool in Lightroom.
In this lesson, we'll take a look at another selective editing tool: The Brush tool. The Brush tool comes in really handy when you want to paint your adjustments in wherever you want them in a photo. Let's select this photo and then press E on your keyboard or select the Edit icon over here. The Brush tool is located here on the far right. It works a lot like its neighbors, the Linear Gradient tool and the Radial Gradient tool, which we covered earlier in this tutorial. For example, when I select the Brush tool that replaces the global editing settings here with controls for just the Brush tool. I'd like to start with all of my settings back to 0, so, I'm going to go to any setting that isn't 0 right now, and I'll right click, and I'll choose Reset All Sliders. Just so you can see where I'm using the Brush tool, I'm going to drag my Exposure slider over to the left. And then to apply this tool, I'll move into the image and I'll just start to paint. And it's applying any adjustment that I've added to this brush. If you want to erase part of a brush, go back over to the column and select this Eraser tool. And if you want to add to the selected area, come back over to the column and select this Small Brush icon and come back in and paint some more. And if you want to paint somewhere else with different settings, click the Plus symbol, I'll move the Exposure slider over to the right this time, and I'll paint down here. At any time, I can come back in and change the adjustments or even delete either of these two pins by selecting the pin. I'll hover over this one, and you can see the red mask that defines the area it's affecting. And then I'll right click, and I'll choose Delete. Or if you want to delete all your pins, you can come over here and click the curved Reset button. When you want to use the Brush tool to make adjustments to a well-defined area, like this blue rooster, there's another feature I think you'll like and that is Auto Mask, which you can find by clicking this disclosure triangle here. And then coming down and checking Auto Mask. Now when I paint over the rooster, the Brush tool will analyze the area around where I'm painting and try to keep me in the lines. So, let's give that a try. And then I'll hover over the pin, and I can see where I've painted using Auto Mask. Now, sometimes this needs fine-tuning. So, I'll go back over and uncheck Auto Mask. I'm going to make my brush tip smaller, and I'll come back and try to paint in those areas that I missed. Sometimes it helps to actually see the mask while you're doing that, so I'm going to press O on my keyboard to view the mask and leave it there as I paint. And if I see some areas that I need to remove, I'll select the Eraser tool on the right and then I'll move in and I'll just paint in here. I'll press O on my keyboard again, and now I'm going to adjust my settings, maybe I want the rooster to look a little darker and a little less saturated. And if I click the before and after icon or press the Backslash key on my keyboard, you can see that those adjustments are affecting just the rooster. So, that's how to use the Brush tool to add your adjustments exactly where you want them in a photo.
What you learned: Use the Brush tool
- Use the Brush tool to paint adjustments wherever you want them in a photo.
- With a photo selected, click the Brush tool in the column on the right. Paint over part of a photo and adjust one or more of the sliders in the Brush panel.
- The Brush tool works much like the Radial and Linear Gradient tools. You can add more than one brushed area to a photo by clicking and painting elsewhere. You can subtract from or add to a brushed area using the Eraser and small Brush icons at the top of the Brush panel. You can re-adjust a brushed area at any time by selecting the pin for that area and changing adjustment sliders.
- To delete a brushed area, select its pin and press the Delete or Backspace key on your keyboard. To delete all brushed areas in a photo, click the Reset icon at the top of the Brush panel.
- To make it easier to stay inside the edges of an object as you paint with the Brush tool, click the triangle at the top right of the Size slider and check Auto Mask before painting.
Remove content from a photo with the Healing Brush in Lightroom.
The Healing Brush tool comes in handy when you have a photo that has unwanted spots of content. Whether those are from your lens or your sensor or some content in the image. Let's take a look at it by selecting this image and pressing E on the keyboard or clicking the Edit icon. I'm going to zoom in on this image, so we can see it better, by just clicking on the image. And then I'll click hold and drag to pan over to the area to work on. Now, here there are some nail holes and some bumps in the wall. To try to remove those, I'm going to go over to the right and select the Healing Brush tool. That opens up some options for the Healing Brush in the next column. I'm going to move into the image and let's say that I want to remove the nail hole under this circle. First, I'll change the size of the Healing Brush tip to make it just a little bit bigger than the spot that I want to remove. Now, you could come over to the Size slider to do that, but then you lose the reference to the spot you're trying to cover. So, here's how I like to change the size of the brush tip instead. I'll move back over the spot that I'm trying to cover and then I'll use the Bracket keys on my keyboard to make the brush tip smaller or bigger. The bracket keys are located just to the right of the P key on most U.S. keyboards. Every time that I press the Left Bracket key, the brush tip gets smaller. And every time I press the Right Bracket key, the brush tip gets larger. So, I'll make it just a bit bigger than that spot and I'll hover over the spot and click. At this point, you may see two circles like those in the video. If you don't see those, press O on your keyboard to show the overlay. The circles represent the source and the destination of a patch that Lightroom has created to cover up that nail hole. If you do see the circles and you want to hide them, press O on your keyboard. I'm going to do that now, so we can see the result. And it looks pretty good. So, I'll just do that a couple more times, on some other bumps in the wall here, this one, and this one over here. And when I come to this one, I'm going to make my brush tip bigger by pressing the Right Bracket key on my keyboard a few times, to cover the area that I want to repair. Now, you won't always get the same result and you may not be getting the same result that I am right now. If you don't like the result that you've gotten, press O on your keyboard to reveal the overlays again, and go to the more bold of those overlays, the source overlay, and drag and you can change the source. And move that until you like the preview inside the destination area. Sometimes you can use this tool to remove things that aren't regular circular areas, like this spot over here. I'm going to make my brush tip smaller for this one. I'll click and drag to create an irregular patch. I'll press O on my keyboard, so we can see the result. Now, this isn't always the best tool to remove content from a photo. For example, let's say that I want to remove this cup. I'm going to make my brush tip a lot bigger and I'll click and drag over the cup and that's the result. If this happens to you, what I suggest that you do is delete that pin, so I'll press O on the keyboard to see the pins again. I'll make sure I've selected the one I want to delete, and I'll press the Delete or Backspace key on the keyboard. And then go over to the more menu and take the image into Photoshop which has state-of-the-art tools for retouching photos and it may help you to get that job done. So that's a quick overview of the Healing Brush here in Lightroom.
What you learned: Use the Healing Brush
- Use the Healing Brush to remove spots and small irregular areas of content.
- With a photo selected, click the Healing Brush tool in the column on the right.
- Make the size of the brush tip slightly larger than a spot you want to remove by dragging the Size slider in the Healing Brush panel. Or press the left bracket key on your keyboard to decrease brush size or the right bracket key to increase brush size.
- Click on a spot or drag over a non-circular area you want to remove. The Healing Brush copies pixels from a nearby source area and uses them as a patch to hide the unwanted content. The two overlays that appear represent the source and destination of the patch. If you’re not satisfied with the result, click the bold source overlay and drag it to another area.
- To delete a patch you made with the Healing Brush, select its overlay and press Delete or Backspace on the keyboard.
- You may have more success removing content in Photoshop. Click the three dots in the column on the right and choose Edit in Photoshop. When you’re done working in Photoshop, choose File > Save in Photoshop to save an edited copy of the photo back to Lightroom.