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5 Tips for Getting Creative in Lightroom

If you work in Lightroom for faster image processing, but don’t want to sacrifice complex retouching or getting creative with your edits, you don’t need to muscle through “Edit in Photoshop” load times for each image. We have 5 professional tips for making magic in Lightroom! These tips work in the latest versions of Lightroom with the super-powered new Masking features and can be used in combo with our local adjustment presets in Lightroom Classic for a quick and effective workflow! 

Local adjustments are typically applied after your global (full image) editing is complete either manually or with presets, after spot removal, but before final cropping. Let's jump into our 5 favorite ways to make the most out of local adjustments for creative editing in Lightroom! 

  1. One-Click Subject & Sky Masking

    Tired of painting and erasing over your subject or sky with a little brush in Lightroom and never quite reaching perfection? Some of the coolest new features in the latest versions of Lightroom across desktop and mobile are the Select Subject & Select Sky AI masking buttons! Completely replacing the radial mask, gradient mask, and local adjustment brush buttons there’s a new Masking button which houses a powerful little menu. With just a click you can totally isolate your sky or subject for quick adjustment on any device. Even better! In Lightroom Classic, you can select a local adjustment preset to apply to your masked subject or sky in just a click! 

  2. Pro Brush Settings for Retouching

    When applying localized adjustments for the purpose of portrait retouching and you want things to look natural you’ll want to use a feathered brush with reduced flow – otherwise things can look a bit overdone. We recommend keeping your brush size conservative respective of the purpose of the effect you are applying, setting feather to 100 if not needing fine-line changes, and setting flow at around 30 for a softer touch, especially if applying blush, softening skin, or for localized toning or color correction.

  3. Pro Shortcuts for Retouching

    Visualization of holding the ALT/Option key while using the brush tool.

    Use these common shortcuts to save tons of time on complex retouching: 

    Press the O key to show/hide your Mask. Have a lot of red in your image and need that mask to be a different color? Simply pressing shift + O will toggle different colors for your overlay! 

    Using the ALT/Option key when applying localized adjustments lets you quickly switch from brush to eraser without having to manually select the eraser in the righthand panel!

    Using the ' key to invert your selection

    Using the / key to switch between your A&B brushes

    These shortcuts will work in both Lightroom & Lightroom Classic for desktop!

  4. Effect Amount Slider

    Once you’ve applied a local adjustment or any masking in Lightroom, you may find yourself zooming out-or returning to your gallery with fresh eyes after a break-and deciding that an effect you’ve applied is too strong. Rather than start from scratch, you can click on this easily missed little arrow next to the Effects options to find a secret "Amount" slider which can be moved left to reduce the intensity of the applied effect, or moved right to increase it!

  5. Special Effects

    Don't be afraid to hack your local adjustment tools and presets to create some stunning special effects or make golden light magic like sun flares, rays, and even fairy light orbs! Once familiar with masking and the local adjustment tools, you can even apply pre-made special effects presets like the Touch of Tweed "Fairies" effect and delete or custom modify the masks created by the preset. 

Curious where all you can use these tips? Local Adjustment Presets and the Amount slider can only be used in Lightroom Classic. Shortcuts can be used in any desktop version of Lightroom. You can change your brush settings, use the Select Subject & Sky AI buttons, and create special effects in any version of Lightroom for desktop or the premium mobile app! 

Want to learn more?
Learn more about Lightroom's Masking tool HERE
Explore our Help Center for more on Installation & Use of local adjustment presets! 
New to presets or editing in Lightroom? Check out our Skill-Based Workflows!
Want more local adjustment brushes? Shop our bundle HERE

Featured image by: Melissa Cuskelly