Skip to main content

Combining Multiple Tools

Lesson 4 from: Dramatically Improved Masking In Lightroom Classic

Ben Willmore

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

4. Combining Multiple Tools

Learn to fine-tune the results of one tool by adding, subtracting and/or intersecting it with any of those other masking tools. This takes masking to a whole new level that was not possible in previous versions of Lightroom Classic.
Next Lesson: Color Range

Lesson Info

Combining Multiple Tools

now let's take a look at how we can get light room to attempt to select the subject of our photograph. And if it doesn't do it just right how we can combine different masking tools to create a much more complex mask. Let's dive in in this image. I would like to select my wife Karen and the rock but she's on to me that's the subject of the photograph. So I've already adjusted the image as a whole, gotten it as good as I could get it before I start isolating areas. And now I'm gonna come up to the masking icon and here I get my list of the different ways I can create a mask. And I'm going to use this one called select subject when I click it. It'll take it a moment for it to analyze the image and see what it thinks the subject is. Now it did a pretty darn good job of getting the rock and my wife, it won't always be that good but notice it also got portions of the rock that's behind her. I can see green covering that and that's not part of the subject. I would like to adjust that separate...

ly. It's also missing a little shady part of the rock back in here. So let's touch this up by using the other tools that are found in Lightroom. Classic. I'm going to zoom up on the image. I can do that by pressing the space bar and clicking and if it zooms up too much or not enough, you can also type command minus on a Mac, that's control minus and Windows or uh to use the plus so hold down the command key controlling Windows plus or minus to zoom in or zoom out as you need. Now. If I look over here on the right side of my screen, I see my mask, it's called mask one in below that. I see where I can add or subtract from it. You won't always see these buttons here. If you don't see them there, click on the little thumbnail image of the mask that will collapse it down. So all you see is its name and thumbnail. If you click again on this, it will expand to show you what tool was used to create the mask. And it could be made out of more than one tool to do it out of more than one tool. I'm going to come down here and choose add when I do. It gives me a list of all the tools I could use to add to this mask and I'm going to use the brush, then I'm gonna make sure auto mask is turned on. I can do that by typing a if I'd like, but I'll click in this case and I'm going to zoom up and try to add the part of the rock that's missing down here. So I'm gonna click and just drag across that area and because auto mask is turned on and that the rock in the distance is much brighter. It was able to not get over spray on it. So we've added to our mask. I could do the same thing anywhere else that it's not masked. Yeah, but in general it looks like it's got most of the areas. Then I want to be able to take away. And this is where things are a little different than previous versions of Photoshop where we could kind of brush to add and take away. In this case though, when I use this brush, the only thing it's capable of doing is adding to it and that's because I use this button to tell it that that's what its functionality should be limited to. Now. If I want to take away from the green overlay, I'm gonna come over here to subtract and I'm gonna tell it, I want to use my brush once again and let's come over here to these little gaps. I'll type command plus to zoom up and I'm going to use auto mask Once again it's still turned on and I'm gonna see if I could click right here and isolate that area. Now it looks a little odd when you first clicked because the rest of the mask went away and that's only because there's a little icon here that represents where you first clicked when you were taken away and if you happen to be hovering over that you see just the area you're taking away once you get your mouse off of that icon, then it goes back to normal where you've seen the entirety of the mask, then I can click here and I'm gonna try to get rid of the rest of the rock using auto mask. Now I'm avoiding these dark areas in here because I think it's too similar to my wife's outfit, so I'm not getting my brush on top of that. Now if I try and I get right on top of that, it's still working. I'm surprised. I guess the color has a big enough difference. Let's try it over here. But once I get down to this area, notice it's deleting too much and that's because I'm clicking on a dark area here and it's too similar to my wife's skin tone. Well this is where I can hold down the option key. Alton Windows to do the opposite of what this was doing. And I can tell it to not work on this area down here or not work over here. I'll just manually paint there. I'll let go of the option key and I might need to try one more spot right up in here. Alright, and any other spots I need. Now, I'm not going to make this absolutely perfect because we don't want to spend all day, but you get the general idea. Uh Now let's adjust this area, I'm gonna zoom out on my picture, I'll just hold down the space bar and click. And now what I'd like to do is bring the contrast down. So there's not such a big difference between the bright and dark areas and I might bring the shadows up to brighten up the darker portions of the image and I might bring down clarity. That's another way of reducing the amount of contrast. But after bringing down clarity, I think the dark part of the image isn't quite dark enough. So I'll go for blacks. I'm just tweaking the image. Now, let's work on other areas. Let's work on the sky. I'll come up here and say create a new mask and let's select sky. And all I'm gonna do is try to get that one cloud to be a little darker by bringing my highlights down. I think that's fine. Now let's combine more tools together. I want to work on everything except for this guy and except for my wife in the rock. That means I want to work on this stuff and all that. Well, how do I do that? Because there's no choice to say select things that aren't the subject. Well, there is watch, I'm gonna first come up here and say I want to make a new mask and I'm going to do selecting the sky and once it's selected the sky, I'll come up here and there's this choice here called Invert. That means give me the opposite. So therefore I have everything except for the sky, then I can say let's further subtract from the mask. And when we do let's subtract the subject from it. So then my wife will be removed. So now we have pretty much what I was talking about, although if we want to touch it up where the areas under her armpit and things like that are also covered in green, then I might need to come over here and get fancier and say now let's add and let's add using her brush. I'll make sure auto mask is on. Get us small enough and see about clicking on a few of these areas. Remember there we might need to do that part manually. I'll do space bar and click and get a small enough brush and I'm just going to add that manually. By the way we use the brush tool, you can hold the shift key and if you click in one spot and then click somewhere else, it'll connect the dots in a straight line. I didn't actually use that right here, but it just popped into my head and there we go. My mask is not perfect just because I'm not spending enough time on it. But I could easily take away from an ad, I'd need to come over here to say subtract, use a brush to do so and see about getting it off of this portion. If I have auto mask turned on, probably be able to get right up there and fine tune it now to adjust that area. I thought the area where it's right behind my wife was too bright, so I'm going to bring down the highlights and now I'm not minding that. So if you look here in your mask, you can see that here's the actual name of the mask, it's called Mask three. If you hover over its thumbnail, you can see the area of the image you're adjusting. And the way that was created was using four different methods with our masking tools. First we selected the sky and if I hover over its icon right here, this is what it gave us, but we had invert turned on so it's actually the opposite. Then here we subtracted this, you see a little minus sign to indicate. We subtracted. And then here there's no minus sign which means we added. And then here we took away a little bit and all those things put together is what made this mask now that you know how to combine some of the tools together. We'll get more practice with that as we explore the other tools that are available in Lightroom Classic

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Masking Catalog
Masking Practice Images

Ratings and Reviews


I have taken almost every course Ben has done for CL and he is an amazing teacher, Ben always starts easy and moves to more advanced concepts - usually ramping things up over one or even several courses. In this course he takes you from easy to advanced concepts very quickly. I loved this course because I can use it to become a much better photographer ultimately reaching (or trying to reach) the advanced levels Ben presents by the end of the course. It is a terrific course from a real master of the photographic editing skill.

Gary Hook

Once again Ben has hit it out of the park. I truly enjoy his instructional technique. By that I mean he explains the point and then demonstrates it talking about what he did. The visual combined with the instruction is highly effective at enhancing the learning. Short, sharp and to the point on this amazing update to LR. Highly recommend this workshop

Christine Stockwell

Adobe’s new masking engine is a real game-changer and Ben does a fantastic job of showing what can be done and how. Thank you Ben! Now I want to go back through my image archive and reprocess many of them.

Student Work