Using Lightroom

Lightroom : The Painter Tool

3 mins read

Over the years I have refined how I manage my photos in Lightroom, my early digital photos had few keywords, and some even have no metadata at all. Badly managed metadata means finding relevant photos from eight or nine years ago often proves to be a challenge.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is designed to enable photographers not only to process their RAW images but it also offers some phenomenal image library/catalogue management tools to boot.

Over the last few months I have been revisiting my archive library and applying relevant keywords so my catalogue is more easily interrogated. It has been an interesting process, a trip down memory lane and the rediscovery of images long since forgotten. Adding metadata updates in Lightroom is made easy by the Lightroom ‘Painter Tool’ that allows keywords to be literally sprayed directly into the metadata of the photographs.

Painter Tool in Lightroom

In the library module you will notice a little spray can along the bottom of the main library window.

The Painter Tool isn’t just about adding keyword on a large scale, it also allows the ‘painting’ of labels, flags, ratings, metadata, settings, rotation and ‘target collection’ across selected images.

Video Demo

Make sure you activate HD 1080P Mode:

Adding Keywords

Clicking on the little ‘paint can’ and selecting ‘key words’ brings up a text box where the keyword (or a series of keywords separated by a comma) can be entered. Images that already have this keyword assigned will appear with a fine white border that is useful for large libraries.

You can click on individual images or hold your tracker/mouse button down and literally spray the words over a series of images. If you accidentally add keywords to the wrong image you can undo the last action by clicking CTR-Z or CMD-Z.

Lightroom Painter Tool

Painting Lightroom Presets

If you use Lightroom presets you can also apply these to a series of images using the spray tool. In the spray drop down instead of “keywords” select “Settings” you will notice that the default is “auto tone”, click this tab and your preset library will appear, select a preset and spray across the images. Again, you can undo this action by click CTR –Z or CMD-Z.

Painting Lightroom Presets

The paint tool is a handy way to quickly manage your Lightroom catalogue, adding keywords, processes, ratings etc and is particularly useful when dealing with a newly imported batch of images with recurring subjects. If you are new to Lightroom then why not check out the top 10 tips to improve your Lightroom workflow.


Free Lightroom Presets
Lightroom Presets for Long Exposure Photography


David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.

Latest from Adobe Lightroom