Automask in Lightroom

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Here is one of the many little tricks and tips we’ll be sharing here.

When you’ve wanted to change a background to a lighter or darker color but cutting the person out was impossible or more work than it’s worth…here is the solution.

Since this is connected with the ‘Brush’ tool in Lightroom it will actually brush in any of the features you can do with a brush. I’ve never found anything other than the ‘Exposure’ slider useful. But it could be that I just haven’t run into a need for any of the other option so don’t discount them.

So, let’s say you have a background that is a white sheet but has wrinkles in it. Everything in your image is fine but those wrinkles just draw your eyes to them and they look unprofessional.

Set your brush to some higher exposure setting as if you were going to lighten an area. Don’t worry, crank it up high.


Now, click in the area of the white sheet and move your brush around a bit. It should turn the sheet even whiter AND remove the wrinkles. But, here is the cool part. Approach your subject with the brush and trace them around the edges with the soft part of the brush. The soft part is between the outer ring and inner ring you see on the left.

As you run it around the subject it will turn the background white without changing the subject. Even hair usually come out usually with every strand.

NOTE: This is VERY important. When you are done using Automask, turn it off. If you don’t, the next time you use the brush in Lightroom for some task, it’s going to drive you nuts because it will have Automask enabled and strange things may happen. Lightroom, like Photoshop, assumes you like checkboxes and windows arrangements to stay the same from one session to the next, so turning on Automask will leave it on until such time as you turn it off.

As with every tool, take some time to play with it and learn the feel of it. Knowing the tools in Lightroom or Photoshop is half the battle. The other half is learning the skills to use them effectively.