Working with the new AI Masking tools in Lightroom Classic (version 14.5)

Lightroom Classic has recently made a sizeable upgrade to the masking tools. We used to have to mask our subjects manually with the brush tool, and while I always found the Lightroom brushes to be much more accurate in edge masking than the brushes in Photoshop, for any subject with less obvious edges it could be somewhat of a chore. Today I am going to show you how to make a 1-click preset to select, mask, and adjust your subject (or background!) and/or your skies.

It’s also important to note (which I did not state in the video) that these presets are stackable. So if you want to really bring attention to your subject, you could have one preset that targets your subject and a second one that targets your background and use them in conjunction with each other. The possibilities are quite endless.

Here is a step by step overview of the workflow listed in the video. These steps outline Subject Masking, but they are easy to alter for background or Sky masking as described below or in the video.

  1. In the Adjustment Panel of the Develop Module, choose the circle button for Masking.
  2. Click on Select Subject
  3. Lightroom automatically finds and masks your subject. If the mask is not 100% correct, you can then refine the mask with a brush using the + or – buttons to add or subtract from the mask as necessary.
  4. Once you are happy with the masking, use the sliders in the Effect panel (or choose a pre-made brush preset from the dropdown area) to target your edits to the masked area.
  5. To save this as a 1-click preset, head over to the Preset panel and click on the + button on the top right of the panel.
  6. Click Create New
  7. Name your preset a relevant name so that you can easily find it later; it will be saved in the Users Folder by default, but you can always move it later.
  8. Make sure that the only thing selected for this preset is the mask. It will likely be named Mask 1 unless you are creating this preset from an image that has multiple masks. All other options should remain unchecked.
  9. Click Create.

At this point you can now use your AI mask on any other photo with a clearly defined subject with just one-click. You do not have to manually mask or sift through a litany of presets in your Adjustment Panel. A simple one click will automagically select and adjust your subject.

Steps for making a sky mask are similar, although of course at the beginning of the process you would click Select Sky first. Of course, you can go one further and invert the sky mask to target everything that is not sky, just as you can invert a subject mask. This would be a great option of you have underexposed the land portion of an image to preserve highlights in the sky.

If you would prefer for your mask to adjust the background instead of your subject, then choose Select Subject, and right click on the mask thumbnail and choose Invert; your adjustments will then target only the background and leave your subject unchanged.

I hope you found this helpful! I will have a full class on Lightroom coming out in 2023, geared towards beginner Lightroom users. If you have any questions about Lightroom, feel free to contact me or leave a comment and I will see if I can make a tutorial for you.

Cheers!

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