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How To Use The Adjustment Brush Tool In Photoshop (Photoshop Beta)

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Knowing how to use the Adjustment Brush Tool in Photoshop offers a quick and easy way to selectively add adjustments to an image. The process adds the adjustment and a layer mask simultaneously to the image.

The function is beginner-friendly and helps streamline your workflow or add quick minor adjustments to the photo. However, this feature is currently only available in Photoshop Beta, which you can access by downloading it from the Creative Cloud App.


Lesson Summary
Step 1: Activate The Adjustment Brush Tool (B) From The Toolbar
Step 2: Select The Adjustment Type From The Options Bar Or The Contextual Task Bar
Step 3: Click On Select Subject And Press Control/Command + I To Invert The Selection (Optional)
Step 4: Adjust The Brush Size And Paint Over The Areas You Want To Add The Adjustment To
Step 5: Edit The Adjustment Settings Using The Properties Panel
Step 1: Activate The Adjustment Brush Tool (B) From The Toolbar
Step 2: Select The Adjustment Type From The Options Bar Or The Contextual Task Bar
Step 3: Click On Select Subject And Press Control/Command + I To Invert The Selection (Optional)
Step 4: Adjust The Brush Size And Paint Over The Areas You Want To Add The Adjustment To
Step 5: Edit The Adjustment Settings Using The Properties Panel

How To Use The Adjustment Brush Tool In Photoshop

Step 1: Activate The Adjustment Brush Tool (B) From The Toolbar

First, open Photoshop Beta, which you can download for free from the Creative Cloud App if you don’t already have it, as long as you have a Photoshop subscription. Then, select the Adjustment Brush Tool (B) from the Toolbar, located in the fly-out menu underneath the Brush Tool.

Step 2: Select The Adjustment Type From The Options Bar Or The Contextual Task Bar

Next, you can select an adjustment to add from the drop-down menu in the Options Bar. Otherwise, you can access the same adjustment options from the drop-down menu in the Contextual Task Bar.

Step 3: Click On Select Subject And Press Control/Command + I To Invert The Selection (Optional)

Next, if you want to ensure you don’t add the adjustment effects to areas you don’t want to, you can use any selection tools to select the area you want the adjustment to be added to. For instance, you can use the Select Subject function to create a selection around the main subject of your image and paint on the subject to add the adjustment without affecting the background.

Otherwise, if you want to paint the adjustment onto the background and leave the subject untouched, invert the selection by pressing Control + Shift + I (Win) or Command + Shift + I (Mac). You can also use the Quick Selection Tool to select the background, as I have done.

Another option is to simply click the Apply to Object button in the Contextual Task Bar, then click on the object you want to add it to, which will show as a magenta overlay. The selected adjustment will automatically be applied to the object you click on.

Step 4: Adjust The Brush Size And Paint Over The Areas You Want To Add The Adjustment Too

Whether you have added a selection to mark off areas or not, you can now start painting over the areas to add the adjustment to. Photoshop will determine what settings work best for the image, but you won’t be stuck with these settings and can adjust them in the next step.

The Adjustment Brush Tool works similarly to the normal Brush Tool in Photoshop, which means you can adjust the brush size using [ to decrease the size and ] to increase the size. Once you have the brush at the right size, paint over the image.

Note: If you have created a selection, clicking once will apply the adjustment to the entire selected area. Otherwise, if there’s no selection, every brush stroke will apply the adjustment to that specific area.

Keep painting over the areas you want to add it to. If you were working with a selection, once you click, the effect is added to the entire region, and it’s automatically deselected. You will also notice a new adjustment layer is added to the Layers Panel with a layer mask added already showing the areas where the adjustment has been added by the white.

Step 5: Edit The Adjustment Settings Using The Properties Panel

You can now fine-tune the adjustment using the Properties Panel, which automatically opens when you use the brush on the image. You can adjust the settings as you would when adding an Adjustment Layer from the Adjustments Panel. Each adjustment looks different and offers different setting options.

Once you have adjusted the settings, you will have added the adjustment to the specific areas using the Adjustment Brush Tool.



Additional Settings When Using The Adjustment Brush Tool

When adding adjustments using the brush, there are a few settings to note in the Options Bar. Firstly, you can select which adjustment you want to add in the drop-down menu, as shown in the steps above. 

Next, you can switch between the two brush types to subtract and add. Use the first brush icon to remove the adjustment from areas you paint over, and use the second icon to add the adjustment to new areas on the image.

Next, you can use the size drop-down menu to adjust the brush size. This is followed by the Pen Pressure option, which affects the size and is useful when using a stylus or pen to paint the adjustment. Next, you can select the object selection icon if you want to add the adjustment to an object. After the option is toggled, you can click on an object on the page to add the adjustment to that area.

The following setting is the Overlay option. Enable the overlay to see a semi-transparent overlay on the image where the adjustment is added to help you know where you are painting. Next, you can set the adjustment’s opacity if you want to add a more subtle effect. The pen pressure option here allows you to use pen pressure to determine the opacity value.

Lastly, you can set the flow and enable the Air Brush option for creative effects.

You can also adjust these settings in the Contextual Task Bar. Additionally, you can add a new adjustment from the Task Bar by clicking Add New Adjustment and selecting an option from the pop-up menu. You can then paint on the new adjustment using the brush.

Note: you can add as many adjustments as you like using this method and paint them on specific areas of your image as needed.

Once you have added an adjustment and selected the settings, you can go back and edit the adjustment using the layer mask in the Layers Panel. This works the same as any other layer mask. Select the layer mask thumbnail, activate the Brush Tool (B), and set the foreground color to white to add the adjustment to new areas, or set the color to black to remove the adjustment from areas.

The adjustments made using the brush can also be edited in the usual way, which you can explore by following this complete guide on how to use Adjustment Layers in Photoshop.



Photo of author
I'm a Canadian photographer and photo retoucher turned founder of bwillcreative.com. Around here I help you to decode the mystery of photo editing with no-fluff videos and written guides to help you achieve your creative goals. Outside of shooting photos and my passion for educating, you'll find me mountain biking or on the trails with my dog, Sunny!

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