I want to share a few quick tips today that are often overlooked when editing photos in Adobe Camera Raw using the Adjustment Brush Tool. The tips have to do with how to go about deleting adjustments in their entirety as well as how to erase only part of an adjustment. When erasing, there are a few options that offer some flexibility, so it’s important to know that those options are available.
In today’s post, I’ll be working on a sample image. I’ll apply some edits in both the Basic panel as well as with the Adjustment Brush. Then, I’ll make a change that’s far too drastic, which will require it to be deleted. I’ll show you how to do that. Then, using the same change, I’ll erase only part of it to bring the photo more in line with what I’m looking for in a final result.
Editing in the Basic Panel
I’ll begin by opening the photo in question into Camera Raw.
Next, I’ll make my usual adjustments in the Basic panel. Nothing drastic here – just trying to bring out some highs, lows and contrast.
This looks good. I think things are more saturated and more well defined.
Using the Adjustment Brush
I’ve decided that I’d like to see the left side of the photo with less exposure (darker) and the right side with more exposure (lighter). I think this will accentuate the vibrancy of the photo even more. I’ll go ahead and select the Adjustment Brush tool by pressing K on my keyboard. This is the handy keyboard shortcut.
While I’m not going to cover all the actions I take with this tool in this post, I will lead you towards a few others that I’ve written that cover, in great detail, how to use the brush.
Here is a screenshot of the edits.
Wow. As you can see, I really screwed things up. What I meant to do was to merely add some accent to the left and left bottom sides and the right and right top sides. Just a bit darker and a bit lighter. Because of my haste, I under-exposed and over-exposed both halves of the photo. I’ll need to fix this.
Deleting an Adjustment Area
If you look closely at the above screenshot, you’ll see that I circled two areas in red. Both of these areas are adjustment areas. In the screenshot, the right area is active, as indicated by a black dot at it’s center. To deactivate this area and activate the left area, all I need to do is click on it. Once I do that, I can add to the area, edit an adjustment slider I’ve already applied or delete the area in its entirety. Since this section deals with how to delete the area, I’ll focus only on that.
Hit Delete on your keyboard when the area you want to delete is active. That’s it. It’s that simple. When you do that, the adjustments will disappear and you can either leave things like that or you can continue on by creating a new adjustment area. It’s up to you.
Hint: Sometimes it’s easier to delete an entire adjustment than it is to attempt to edit it. At times, a fresh start is welcome.
Erasing Parts of an Adjustment Area
When a mistake isn’t too bad, such as the one above, I can erase parts of it. And by using this feature, I can take advantage of some options that Camera Raw offers. Let’s take a look at the controls now.
Take a look at the above screenshot. To erase part of an adjustment, simply select that adjustment area by clicking on its pin. I just showed you the pins in the previous screenshot. Once the black dot is in the center of the pin, head over to the right Adjustment Brush panel.
Inside this panel, you’ll see three radio buttons towards the top. Click inside the one on the right that says Erase. After that, scroll down to the bottom of the panel and focus your attention on the Size, Feather and Flow sliders.
When using these sliders to erase part of an adjustment, they act just as you would expect them to. They also act just as they do when you’re applying the initial adjustment. Size controls the size of the tool, Feather controls the softness of the tool’s edges and Flow controls how much of the adjustment will be removed.
Think about this last one as opacity. If you push this slider all the way to the right so it reads 100, it will remove every last bit of adjustment that you touch. If you leave the slider towards the left somewhere, say at 10, you’ll only remove part of the adjustment, leaving most of it there. As you can imagine, there’s some flexibility with this feature.
Since I would like to remove all of the adjustment in certain spots, I’ll push the Flow slider all the way to the right so the value reads 100. I’d like a somewhat large brush, so I’ll move the Size slider so it’s value is 20. Finally, since I want a medium softness, I’ll keep the Feather slider set to 50.
Now, I’ll brush away some of the adjustment. After I do that, I’ll click inside the Mask checkbox that’s located at the bottom of the Adjustment Brush panel. This will clearly show the area of the adjustment, just to give me an idea of what’s going on and if I missed anything.
If you look at the above screenshot, you’ll see a cloudy white area. That’s where there will be less exposure.
Now, I’ll follow the same exact steps, but for the other, lighter, adjustment area. I’ll erase everything except the right side and the top. After I do this, I’ll click the Open Image button at the bottom right of the application, move the photo into Photoshop, remove some dust from the jars with the Spot Healing Brush Tool and save the image out.
Really, it’s that easy. Once you become familiar with jumping back and forth between the Add and Erase radio buttons in the Adjustment Brush panel, making these types of edits will be super fast and simple. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comment section below. Thanks!
If you’d like to learn more about how to use the Adjustment Brush Tool in Adobe Camera Raw, please take a look at these great posts:
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