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How to combine masks in Adobe Lightroom Classic

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You can take full advantage of Adobe Lightroom Classic by combining different masking modes for highly selective adjustment areas before you even take your work to Photoshop . We’ll see how to combine (or intersect) masks in Lightroom Classic here.

Intersection masks in Adobe Lightroom Classic

A substantial update to Lightroom Classic in 2021 brought new masking tools. The things that people had been using as solutions, such as the gradient range masks, now they have dedicated tools. It also has additional ways of masking, including AI options like ‘select subject’. Here, however, we are going to see the intersection.

The intersection feature in Lightroom’s masking tool is a bit intimidating at first, but understandable with a little practice. Basically it allows you to combine different types of masks to reduce the area you are adjusting.

A good way to think about this process is to select first it you want to mask and then where you want to mask within that area by combining masks. For example, you could start with a selected subject mask and then narrow it down to include a specific area of ​​your subject that you would like to adjust.

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In this video tutorial from photographer Brian Matiash, you can see him do just that to change the color of his jacket in a photo. He first selects himself with an AI mask, then crosses it with a palette mask and clicks on his jacket. By crossing masks, Matiash effectively reduces the area of ​​the photograph that fits only his jacket.

Here I used a selected subject mask intersected with a color range mask to highlight my subject’s jacket, then brushed in some additional areas to narrow down the selection:

Person sitting on the edge of a fountain.

Mask intersection is simple on its own. Simply create a new mask, click the three dot icon to the right of the mask name, then click “intersect mask with.” In Lightroom Classic, you will be shown a list of skin types that you can combine your current skin with.

The Lightroom masking menu with

From there, you can get creative depending on what you want to adjust. May change the color of clothes, add exposition , increase clarity and more.

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To further limit your selection, you can turn on the mask overlay and use the ‘Refine’ slider with some masks, such as the color gamut mask. To see exactly which areas of the image are masked, hold down the Option key on a Mac or the Alt key on Windows, then drag the slider. The image will turn black and white, and the masked areas will appear white.

Lightroom refinement slider as it appears in the program.

Another way to further adjust the masks once you have combined them is the “Add” and “Subtract” functions. Next to each mask, you’ll have the option of adding or subtracting, and you can select the Brush tool to cut out parts of a selection that you might not want.

Pop-up menu that shows the options available when subtracting from a mask in Lightroom Classic.

Keeping in mind the “first select what, then select where” approach, you can combine any number of mask types to refine your selection.

Another scenario that Matiash goes through in his video is editing only the area under a car. It begins with “what”, masking the car with a select subject mask. Then you refine that mask by crossing it with a linear gradient, allowing you to select only the underside of the car and nothing else in the image. You can do the exact same thing with a radial gradient mask to select a subject’s face, for example, and then brighten it.

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Get creative with masking

Once you are familiar with this concept, you can use it for everything from changing the color of a dress to lighting someone’s eyes, and any number of things in between. Use some of your old photos and experiment with them in Lightroom until you get them. If you don’t have old images that you can use, take this as an excuse to go out and shoot !

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