Lightroom: adding an History brush

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  • Updated 5 years ago
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History brush for lightroom
The history brush in photoshop CS is a very useful feature for selectively undoing certain edits. A quick and easy alternative to layer masks.

A history brush in lightroom with similar controls to the adjustment brush (auto mask, size, feathering, opacity) would be extremely useful.

A couple of examples. - After sharpening the history brush could be used to remove or reduce sharpening on women & childrens faces.

After noise reduction, certain areas containing fine detail could be brushed and opacity set to give best compromise for detail, while leaving smooth areas noise free.

After using the gradient tool on the sky , where the horizon is far from level the effect could be removed and or reduced in areas like trees and mountains etc. A history brush would greatly enhance the functionality of the gradient tool.

Regards
John
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John Bourne

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Posted 7 years ago

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My Buisness

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I've signed in and hit the +1 button several times, but it does not seem to be registering...
Tried both with FF & IE, no joy.
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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That's strange. What method did you use to log in? (Adobe ID, Facebook or Twitter)
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My Buisness

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registered an account from this page, used that login...
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My Buisness

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PS. It seems the "Remember Me' login option does not work either...
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Rob Cole

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I was able to add my vote - logged in using Adobe ID (firefox 4, win 7/64)
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Lee Jay

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I don't understand how a history brush could be implemented into a workflow that is not order-of-application-dependent, like Lightroom.
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Rory Hill

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You could launch it after selecting one or more history panel items, and then mask those specific changes. This has been advocated before and apparently, according to Jeff Schewe, rejected by adobe. I forget if it was a technical or a ui complexity reason for not implementing. The interesting thing about this approach is you could eliminate the need for all the different adjustment brushes. Lots of stuff to think through...
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john beardsworth

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Yes, it's a solution that may work OK with Photoshop's pixel-destructive workflow, but I really doubt it suits a parameter-driven app where one can be adjusting multiple images.

I also wonder how many Photoshop users who use layers ever bother with the history brush? It's also struck me as a slightly retro way of working and not intuitive enough for Lightroom.
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Rory Hill

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I know what you mean John and I agree about the usage in photoshop. I think part of this is using the term "history brush". If you change that to "mask any lightroom controls" then it is a different thing all together. I just want to be able to make any change in lightroom locally - don't really care how that happens - and this is one possible solution.
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john beardsworth

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'If you change that to "mask any lightroom controls" then it is a different thing all together' - agreed, some kind of masking may work, but something that uses a History step to paint back wouldn't.
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Rob Cole

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Great idea John - you got my vote.

Edit history is a vast but only partially tapped resource in Lightroom. I'm not sure about the technical details of making this work, but I think you're on to something...

I'd be curious how you would see the UI of this working, not to design it for Adobe, but as a clarification of what you mean by "history brush", and the exercise may help shed light on feasibility.

I think I've got the idea, but it might help you garnish support if people were more clear what you mean and what it would look like in Lightroom (and what the opportunity cost might be). PS - I recommend taking a whack *without* referring to the history brush in Photoshop for two reasons:

1. People who are familiar with the history brush in Photoshop may tend to think of your idea as a "port" of the Photoshop history brush, and that pre-conceived notion may interfere with their ability to see your idea in its most positive light. Also, there may be huge differences in how it would be implemented in Lightroom vs. Photoshop.

2. Not everyone is familiar with the history brush in Photoshop, in which case, the concept is not transferable.
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John Bourne

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Thanks guys

The history is listed in the left panel in order of application. This order is retained when light room is shut down and re-started so lightroom must remember what that order is. I had envisaged that a small box could be added to the left of each entry and would work just as it does in PS. Aparrantly that might not be feasible. It would be too cumbersome to add a 'selective undo' to each of the other controls (eg gradient, sharpening, noise reduction etc) each with an additional set of controls (auto-mask, size, opacity, feathering. That would be impractical.

One suggestion above was to change the name (and functionality) to "mask any lightroom controls". Its not a catchy name but I think the idea would be that it would be a mask to specifically target one previous adjustment, or perhaps just the previous adjustment. (correct me if I got that wrong John) I think I would be happy with that, what do you think ?

How about calling it a "Selective erase brush" or just "Erase brush" or "Targeted erase brush". Within its dialogue there would need to be a method of selecting the adjustment to which it is to be applied, unless it is fixed to work only on the previous adjustment. There could be a series of small boxes (ala photoshop) at the left of each history state to select which adjustments are undone. This could present some interesting problems for the development team wrt the database but they are clearly clever people. They probably have better ideas of how to implement this than I could think of, while keeping the interface as simple as possible (paramount)

Regards
John
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john beardsworth

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I wouldn't say blown out of the water - only if you do find my counter-arguments convincing!

http://feedback.photoshop.com/photosh... is the one.
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Rob Cole

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John (Bourne) - you disappoint me: you're giving up *way* too easily. Just because one person has an objection to the idea *as cast* doesn't mean there aren't the seeds of a really awesome idea here... ;-}

PS - There's ideas for maskable gradients and auto-masking technology that would be usable with gradients too which you may want to consider as well.
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Lee Jay

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"The history is listed in the left panel in order of application. This order is retained when light room is shut down and re-started so lightroom must remember what that order is. I had envisaged that a small box could be added to the left of each entry and would work just as it does in PS."

Do you realize that if you were to fully randomize the order of that history, or even delete it entirely, that nothing about your image would change?

"One suggestion above was to change the name (and functionality) to "mask any lightroom controls". Its not a catchy name but I think the idea would be that it would be a mask to specifically target one previous adjustment, or perhaps just the previous adjustment. "

In essence, you can already do that. If you have a history step that says "exposure +0.5" you can just set the exposure brush to -0.5 and brush away that change.

I think what you and Rory really want is a way to do that with a simple UI that doesn't make you have to invert an adjustment in your head, and that allows all develop tools to be localized. Personally, I don't find the history panel particularly useful in LR like it is in PS so I'm not sure that's a good UI choice, and I'm not sure how difficult it would be to extend the local adjustments to anything and everything.
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John Bourne

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Rob - Sorry to dissapoint you, but John Beardworth is a well known and well respected member of the lightroom community. He has expressed strong opinions here in opposition to my original post and I have since seen that similar requests have been made in the past and foundered. I expended too much energy in my younger days tilting at windmills to not realise when a cause has been lost - nipped in the bud in this case. My post is still there if anyone else wants to vote for it and I have found the alternative post prefered by John Beardsworth and voted for that. So several seeds have been sown, and perhaps one day something may grow from one of them.
Lee. Thanks for your post. I am aware that the order of adjustments is largely (but not completely) academic. I also appreciate that the adjustment brush can be used to make localised adjustments to tone and colour. Nor am I incapable of inverting an adjustment in my head. I have already conceded the history brush in respect of LR.
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Rob Cole

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John Bourne - I was sort-of teasing you with the "disappointment" rib - sorry for that. I agree with you that there have been some good "counter-"points made, e.g. by John Beardsworth & Lee Jay. Still, you don't have to sell yourself short. I mean, *if* Lr4 includes all adjustments localized, and *if* the edit history is enhanced with better descriptions and viewing options..., and *if* the concept of an inverted mask is introduced then it may not be that big of a stretch to be able to select some items from edit history and paint them out, which I think is essentially what you are asking for. I mean, even if that gets implemented in another way, your idea may still have been implemented. For example, it could be by having "load brush from edit history selections" on the edit-history context menu, and a tick mark for whether one is painting mask or inverse mask, or something not like that...

So far, Lightroom has opted for negative local adjustments as a way to have less of something, and this is very intuitive. On the other hand, Lr may get pumped with some masking technology such that one can say "mask this gradient here" regardless of whether the gradient gets adjusted afterward... If this kind of thing happens, your idea may be not be so far fetched.

'Nuff said for now...

I encourage people to vote for this FR/Idea even if it may have some problems *as cast* if you feel enhancements to the develop module are a priority, especially maskable edits and/or edit-history enhancements, because Adobe does not pick items from the forum and then do them - they come up with their own ideas in an attempt to satisfy the *spirit* of user's requests.
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Jon Rista

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Is this not covered by the brush tool in Lightroom as it stands today? Any brush you apply can either be applied with a positive or negative effect. If you brush "outside the lines", you can always hit the Alt key to enter erase mode, and simply clean up your messy painting.

I don't see the need for a "history brush" in Lightroom. The existing brush feature handles local edits quite well, and has the ability to positively or negatively apply edits (i.e. if someone does a strong denoise on the whole image, you could then paint noise back in on your key subject(s) using the standard brush tool, only with an negative setting rather than a positive one.)

The edit history is a very critical thing in Lightroom, however it is not the same kind of thing as an "undo history" in Photoshop. Edits are not baked in like they are with a tool such as Photoshop. Edits are simply a tracking of the develop module settings at a moment in time, nothing more. The way the Lightroom Develop module works is RADICALLY different than the way a destructive editor works. A history brush is entirely unnecessary in a non-destructive editor such as Lightroon...and actually comes off as rather counter-intuitive instead.

Rather than requesting a feature that is counter-productive to the fundamental nature of Lightroom, it might be better to learn exactly what a non-destructive editor is, how it works, and what the edit history actually is...so you can better utilize the tools that already exist.
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John Bourne

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The suggestion for using the history brush was for use with the gradient tool not the the brush tool. I also conceded defeat over a year ago on this issue, and have since learned to make better use of non destructive editing in CS using layers & smart objects for those areas where lightroom does not provide an adequate solution. Edits are no longer baked in using photoshop provided you used the right tools and methods and do not flatten your layers. The gradient tool in lightroom remains less useful than it might be if it were possible to some how bend the straight lines that it uses or erase portions of its effect.

Regards

John
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john beardsworth

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John. you may be interested to see how the recently-released Capture One v7 deals with the problem. Where our grad filter adds a vector and never displays its internal mask, C1's gradient tool does paint a mask which operates more like those in PS, so you can then erase areas of it with the local adjsutment brush. I feel this, or my bendable grad filter, are more in tune with the underlying needs and the Lightroom style. As I'm sure you now understand, a history brush that paints from a historical state of the image is a very different thing.
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John Bourne

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Thanks for the tip John. Since I now have CS6 I am pretty well sorted. Still I might download the C1 trial and have a play some day. I remember during this discussion that you advised me to return to the fold regarding the use of layers. That was good advice and I thank you for it.