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In the October 2022 (12.0) upgrade Adobe added powerful new content aware fill and masking tools to Lightroom Classic.
The updates to the masking tools are great news for portrait photographers. But even if you don’t photograph people you’ll appreciate the other updates.
Lets take a look at the major features included in this upgrade.
How to upgrade to Lightroom Classic 12.0
First, check your operating system.
- If you’re a Windows user you need Windows 10 v20H2 or later, or Windows 11.
- Mac users need macOS 11 (Big Sur) or later.
Open the Creative Cloud app and click on the Apps menu. You’ll see a list of any applications you use that need updating. Click the Update buttons to upgrade them.
When you open Lightroom Classic 12.0 for the first time it lets you know that it needs to update your Catalog. This is normal and completely save, so go ahead and click the Upgrade button.
New Lightroom Classic feature #1: A new Healing tool (with Content Aware Remove)
The Healing tool replaces the Spot Removal tool. It works the same way as the Spot Removal tool, with one addition – Content Aware Remove.
To use it:
1. Click the Healing tool icon in the Toolstrip (1) and then the Content Aware Remove icon (2).
2. Set the Opacity slider to 100.
3. Set the size of your brush, then paint over the object you want to remove while you hold the left mouse button down.
When you let the mouse button go, Content-Aware Remove gets to work.
Here I used it to remove a wooden post. The dotted line shows the area covered by the brush.
This is the result. I doubt anybody would realize that I’d removed something from the photo.
If you don’t like the result, click Refresh. Lightroom samples another part of the photo to see if that works better. You can keep trying the Refresh button as much as you want.
The second option is to select the area to be sampled yourself. Hold down the Cmd (Mac) | Ctrl (PC) key and use the mouse to draw a rectangle across your selected area. Lightroom does its thing when you let the mouse button go.
Tip: Use the ‘H’ keyboard shortcut to hide or reveal an eraser icon and a line that shows the healed area. You can click and drag the eraser icon to move the healed area. But unlike Heal, there’s no way of seeing which part of the photo Lightroom selected to sample.
New Lightroom Classic feature #2: A new Toolstrip
The Done button has disappeared from the Toolbar, and has been replaced with a new Edit icon in the Toolstrip. Click the Edit button at any time when using Crop Overlay, Healing, Red Eye Correction or Masking to hide those tools and bring back the editing tools (Basic panel etc.).
New Lightroom Classic feature #3: Masking interface changes
When you click the Masking icon in the Toolstrip, if the photo doesn’t have any masks you’ll see this panel:
The new additions are Select Background (1), Select Objects (2), the three Range tools (Luminance, Color and Depth) have been grouped under Range (3), and Lightroom’s AI looks for people in the photo and displays them at the bottom (4).
You can also get to the new masking tools by clicking the Create New Mask button in the Masks panel.
Let’s take a look at the new masking tools.
New Lightroom Classic feature #4: Select Background
The new Select Background tool uses AI to make a mask covering the background of the photo.
Before the update, you could mask the background of a photo by using Select Subject, then clicking the three dot icon next to the mask and selecting Duplicate and Invert Mask from the menu.
Select Background simplifies the process by giving you one button to click.
In the example below, I used Select Background to mask the background of the photo (the mask overlay is green).
A good use for Select Background is to make the background darker, or to adjust the colors by changing the color temperature or reducing saturation.
New Lightroom Classic feature #5: Select Objects
Select Objects is the next new AI based tool. It’s useful for masking objects that are not the main subject of the photo. You can also use it as an alternative to Select Subject if that tool struggles to find the main subject of a photo.
There are two modes for selecting an object to be masked: Brush Select and Rectangle Select. Use Brush Select for irregularly shaped objects, and Rectangle Select for objects that can be neatly framed by a rectangle. You may have to experiment to see which option works best for your photo.
In the photo below I used Select Objects to make a mask covering the plant pot.
In this photo you could use the mask to make the pot brighter or darker, or to add Clarity or Texture to bring out its textures.
New Lightroom Classic feature #6: Select People
Select People is the last new AI based tool. You can use Select People to make separate masks for features like face skin, hair, lips and eyebrows. You could do this in earlier versions of Lightroom Classic with the Brush tool, but Select People makes it quicker and easier.
There are also eight new adaptive presets (see Adaptive: Portraits in the Presets panel) that make use of Select People masks.
Use Select People to make masks like the ones below, covering the models face skin, hair and lips, to make local adjustments and apply skin smoothing.
If you’re a portrait photographer you’ll love these new updates to Lightroom Classic. I’ve been telling people for years that you don’t need to buy a retouching plugin and that you can do all the retouching you need in Lightroom. The new Select People masking tools make it easier and quicker.
Otherwise, the new Select Background and Select Objects masking tools also make it easier to make fast, accurate selections using masks. AI masking is a great feature to have and I find myself using older tools like the Brush and Linear and Radial gradients much less.
Mastering Lightroom Classic: Book Two – The Develop Module
My ebook Mastering Lightroom Classic: Book Two – The Develop Module goes into the new features in more detail, with examples.