Adobe adds AI masking and content-aware healing to Lightroom 2022

Adobe Lightroom 2022 has arrived, and the latest features are all about making it easier to select people or objects to adjust their colors or remove them completely. The key features, AI-powered masking and content-aware remove, are available on Lightroom, Lightroom Classic and Adobe Camera RAW.

Where Photoshop has been the usual way you’d go in and tweak or remove objects, Adobe introduced AI-powered masking to Lightroom last year. Now, it’s expanding on that with more specific tools that allow you to easily select people and even individual body parts, objects or the background in a single click. 


The first of those is “Select People,” which uses Adobe’s AI Sensei to select individuals and groups, or even specific body parts like face skin, body skin, eyes, teeth, lips, hair and more. It’s surprisingly simple to use: with a photo loaded, Adobe’s AI automatically identifies and lists each person in a scene as “All People,” and “Person 1,” “Person 2,” “Person 3,” etc. You can then choose, say, Person 2, and it will let you select their facial skin, body skin, teeth and so on. From there, you can tweak hues, boost clarity or whatever else you want to do. 

Select Objects, meanwhile, makes it easier to do just that in a couple of ways. To select a rose, say, you can just paint over it with the brush, or draw a rectangle around it and the AI will automatically refine the edges to create a precise mask. In a similar vein, you can easily select an entire image background with a single click, rather than having to invert a subject selection as before. 


And if you’re more interested in removing things altogether (aka “healing”), that’s now easier than before with Content-Aware Remove. To do that, you just draw a mask roughly around the object to be removed, and the AI will adaptively fill in the background based on the surrounding content. It includes a Refresh option and lets you pick the sampled area for finer control. 

As usual with this kind of thing, it can work well with some images and not so much with others. The masks may also require hand tweaking, particularly with complex backgrounds that are hard for the AI to distinguish from the foreground. Still, it gives you a good head start in those cases and often selects the entire subject correctly on the first try. 

Other new features for Lightroom on desktop include “Compare while editing” that lets you load two images to better match them, along with GPU performance updates. Lightroom Classic gets a new left-right panel swap feature if you’d rather see your color controls on the left, plus faster imports from mobile devices (Windows only). On Camera Raw, Adobe’s introducing masking curves and HDR support for displays, though the latter is in a tech preview for now. The updates should be rolling out on Adobe’s Creative Cloud now — for more, check out the Lightroom blog

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Steve Dent