Skip to main content

photo & video

How to Retouch Portraits Using Lightroom CC

Lesson 4 of 10

Creating & Saving Adjustment Brush

Kristina Sherk

How to Retouch Portraits Using Lightroom CC

Kristina Sherk

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

4. Creating & Saving Adjustment Brush

Lesson Info

Creating & Saving Adjustment Brush

So we're gonna move on to the adjustment brush. And what we're going to do at this point is we are going to create an adjustment brush that we want to save and use again. So, if anyone has done something, okay, let me do a show of hands, how many people have whitened teeth, for example, in Lightroom, on more than five images? Okay, those are my portrait people out there. So for me personally, if you do anything in Photoshop more than five times, I'm sorry. If you do anything in Photoshop more than five times, you should have an action for it. If you do anything in Lightroom more than five times, you should have an adjustment brush for it, because what it's doing is it's saving you time. If you find yourself doing something repetitive, you could be saving that time and just creating a preset brush for it, so that you can use it on future images. So for this example, let's create an iris enhance brush, so that we can not only use it on this image, but we can also use it on any image we h...

ave in the future. So we have K, so we're gonna hit K to activate our adjustment brush, and then let's come over here and make some changes to our brush over here. So let's add just a little bit of brightness or exposure, let's add some contrast. So I'm gonna do... I'm gonna be a little bit heavy-handed, but I'm gonna be a little bit heavy-handed for a reason. So don't freak out on me just yet, peeps. Okay, we're gonna be increasing the exposure, increasing the contrast, we're bumping up the shadows and the highlights, and that seems about right, so. Now that we have our brush that we like, let's go ahead and paint this onto our irises. And I didn't really show the brush overlay, so if you hit your O key, that's going to show you that brush overlay. So, with the brush overlay activated, if I hold down my option key, you can see that my brush turns from a plus mark to a minus mark, so I can erase from that brush that I made, so that it's just being applied to the irises specifically, and maybe a little bit of the eye whites as well. Okay, so, really quick let's preview the before and the after of the brush. That looks nice, right? Okay, so, at this point you've made all of these multiple adjustments, let's go ahead and save this brush so we can use it in the future. So if we come over here to the word custom up here, this says multiple things at multiple times, so this could say a lot of things. What you wanna do is there is always gonna be a word next to the word effect that has two little arrows, so that's where you wanna click. And then there will be a list of brushes that come by default with Lightroom, and these will not be in yours, because I have a lot of brushes. So let's go ahead and come down here to the bottom, and say we want to save these current settings as a new preset, and then Lightroom asks us well, what would you like this preset to be named? So let's call this this Z and iris enhance, whoops. One. (laughs) Okay, we're going to hit create, and perfect. We have our iris enhance brush. So now that we have it, it's going to show up in our list. So you can see it right there, Z iris enhance, brush one. Okay. So let's say we've been using that brush, we've been liking it, but we find that, you know every single time I'm using this brush, I end up making changes to it after I've applied it. So it's a bit frustrating because, yes, I start with these settings, but then I find myself adding a little bit of sharpness to this brush. Where's my... Okay, I wanna make sure my pen is active. So I'm adding a little bit of sharpness to this brush, I'm also finding that I'm adding some clarity to this brush, and I'm also adding texture to this brush whenever I'm using it, so I have to make those changes every single time I use this brush. That's not okay, right? We're trying to save time, we're trying to work smarter, not harder, so as you can see up here, what's happened is our Z iris enhance brush now has the word edited next to it, which means that it's been modified or changed in a certain way. So, if we go ahead and click on this, and then scroll back down to our bottom, of course your list is not gonna be as long as mine, we have the option to update our preset brush with the current settings. So let's go ahead and update this preset brush. And now, every single time we use this brush in the future, it's gonna immediately have these new settings. Okay, so let's look at what these new settings have created with the irises. That looks nice. Before and after. Can you guys see me right there? Say hi. (laughs) Okay, so there is the change between the iris enhance brush. If for any reason, you feel like this brush is too extreme, I have lost so many hours of my life coming in here and going all right, well let's pull this one back, let's pull this one back closer to zero, let's pull this one back closer to zero, let's pull this one back closer to zero, all to lessen the effect of the brush. When I saw this next thing, I wanted to laugh and cry at the exact same time, because I was like, all of the time of my life that I have spent modifying tiny little sliders has all gone down the tubes. So we've got our brush right here. We also have a master disclosure arrow, okay? So if we click this black disclosure arrow, it's going to take all of those different sliders that have been changed, and it's going to smack 'em into one slider, so that all you have to do is slide one slider back and forth to lessen the effect. Okay? Again, I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. So, if you find yourself coming in here and sliding one specific slider and then another specific slider, please don't, because you have this handy dandy little disclosure arrow that's going to allow you to just do it all, at one time, okay? So that's pretty cool, right? One of the most powerful things about this brush, and the reason why I love teaching this specific topic is that we were able to make multiple different modifications using one brush, and painting it in one time. So we were able to change the exposure, we were able to increase the contrast, brighten the highlights, brighten the shadows a little bit, we were able to increase the texture, and the clarity, and also the sharpness. So if we were hypothetically, if we were doing this same thing in Photoshop, we would need one, two, three, four, five, six, seven different adjustment layers to come up with the same effect, okay? So this is where the power really lies within this specific tool within Lightroom. Is that it's seriously a time saver if you can start using this tool, and utilizing it, and making it really work for you. You're definitely gonna save time, and then on top of that, with all of those different sliders, you can then go and save that specific brush so that you can use it in the future, every single time you have an iris that you want the irises to pop on. So that's really where this power is for this tool.

Class Description


  • Retouch portraits using Adobe Lightroom.
  • Use frequency separation and dodge and burn to adjust images.


Let’s be honest, who has two spare hours to spend retouching a single image in Adobe® Photoshop®. Fortunately, there’s Adobe® Lightroom®, which offers so many amazing tools you can skip Photoshop altogether. In this class, Kristina Sherk will show you all the incredible portrait retouching techniques you can achieve in Lightroom in just seconds, including topics like frequency separation and dodge and burn. She will translate all the high-level retouching techniques once thought to be only feasible in Photoshop into super-fast Lightroom brushes to save you tons of time.


  • All Levels of photographers and retouchers


Photoshop CC 2019


For the past 10 years, Kristina Sherk has been a high-end photo retoucher based out of Washington, D.C. She specializes in beauty retouching and has done work for many clients such as Time Inc., Hasselblad, Merz Aesthetic, and Cotton Incorporated. She loves “translating Photoshop” for people and subsequently, she’s a contributing author for educational publications like Shutter Magazine, Photoshop User Magazine and Lightroom Magazine. She is well-known for her online teaching, and you can find out more at

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



Great class, good, clear, easy-to-follow instructions. This is going to have a big impact on my workflow and save me a LOT of time - thank you!


As fast as Lightroom is growing and improving, it's a hard to keep up with everything it is capable of. Kristina did a great job of showing how to speed up workflow by retouching in ways that I though you could only do well in Photoshop. This class is super informative and well worth it!

Robin Spencer

Excellent! This program was short and sweet but packed with lots of very useful tips and tricks. I have been using Lightroom for years and still learned so much. All of her time saving tips especially "Sync" were really appreciated. Highly recommend.