Luminar 4 Tutorial for New and Upgrading Users

When Skylum recently launched Luminar 4, they included a lot of changes. Much of the marketing focussed on the new AI features, but possibly more significant were the interface changes. In this Luminar tutorial I explain what’s changed in the interface and how it affects your editing. If you’re coming from an older version of Luminar this could clear up a lot of confusing points. But don’t worry if you’re completely new, the tutorial and video will explain what you need to know when learning Luminar.

The Luminar Library Module

Luminar has two purposes at its core. First it helps you manage your images in the Library module. Second it allows you to edit your photos, especially those in the RAW format, in the Edit module.

Luminar Tutorial Library Module Interface

When you’re in the Library module, the layout will look like the screenshot above, where you can see four areas numbered:

  1. These are the Library and Edit module buttons. Click to switch between the two functions.
  2. The main preview area displays a grid of thumbnails for the currently selected folder or Album.
  3. Luminar displays imported folders here. Remember, Luminar only displays imported folders and this isn’t a list of the folders on your hard drive.
  4. Whilst the folder list shows imported folders, you can also create Albums. An album is a collection of photos’ you create, and they can come from multiple folders. You can add photos to an album by dragging and dropping as demonstrated in the video later in this Luminar tutorial.

Adding Metadata in Luminar 4

Although (at the time of writing)  you can’t add keywords in Luminar 4, you can apply other metadata. This includes:

  1. Adding a star rating from 0-5 by clicking the rating to the bottom left of the thumbnail. Used this to indicate which are your best photos. You can also add a star rating to an image by right clicking the image thumbnail. In the popup menu select “Set Rating” and then the star rating to apply. Alternatively use the shortcut keys 0 through to 5.
  2. You can apply flags to a photo to mark them as favourites or to reject them. Again, you can do this by right clicking an image and selecting the flag from the “Set Flag” option. If you would rather use shortcut keys it’s “P” to mark as a favourite, “X” to reject an image and “U” to remove any existing flags.
  3. Luminar can also set a colour label for each image. Right click an image with your mouse, then select the colour you want in the “Set Color Label” option. There’s no meaning to the colours so your free to use them in any way you like.

Once you’ve set your metadata and selected the image you want to edit, click the “Edit” button at the top right of the interface.

Editing in Luminar 4

When the Edit module opens, you’ll see a screen like this.

Luminar Tutorial Edit Module Interface

Let’s look at the numbered components on the screenshot:

  1. Vertical “filmstrip” of thumbnails in the current folder or album. You can switch to edit a different image by clicking its thumbnail.
  2. The main preview reflects any adjustments you’ve applied to the image. All adjustments in Luminar are non-destructive so you never change the original image. When you finish editing you can export your image to an image file in a variety of formats.
  3. Luminar includes a collection of what Skylum calls “Looks”. These are presets which you can apply to the image your editing by clicking one of the thumbnail previews at the bottom of the screen. If you can’t see the “Looks” thumbnails you might not have the option enabled. Try clicking the “Looks” button at the top of the screen.
  4. The editing power of Luminar comes from a series of icons running vertically down the right of the screen. Each one has a specific function or gives access to editing features. The video later in this tutorial covers each of these fully and demonstrates editing with them.
  5. These are the Luminar editing filters. Which filters you see displayed is determined by the icon selected (in point 4 above). When you click to select and open a filter you will see the controls to apply your changes. Luminar 3 had over 50 of these filters which you could add from a drop-down list. These have been rationalised down to around 30.

Luminar Layers

Luminar 4 uses a layer-based approach to editing. On each layer you add, all the filters are available for you to use.

When you select one of the Looks in Luminar you will be able to see the adjustments used. If a filter’s title displays in white if it’s used. When you click to select one of these you can see the control and the settings. If you want to apply a Look to your image, it’s usually best to apply it first. You can then add a new layer to apply any additional adjustments you would like to make. As this new layer contains another set of filters, you can apply any changes you like without changing the settings used by the Look.

Rather than describing the editing in detail, the following video explains and demonstrates the Library and Edit modules.

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Luminar 4 may have introduced new tools, but the interface changes are probably the most significant for existing users. The changes have rationalised the number of filters and changed the way you add new filters. Initially I was sceptical of the changes, but I quickly found myself being able to edit effectively.

I hope you’ve found this Luminar tutorial helpful. If you have any ideas for future Luminar tutorials, please let me know.

To download a trial version of Luminar, visit the Skylum website. If you decide to make a purchase use the discount code LENSCRAFT (discount may vary depending on currency and isn’t available in conjunction with other discounts).

Luminar is a very effective editor but it isn’t to everyone’s taste. It also requires quite a lot of computing power and a good spec on both Windows and Mac. If you’re looking for an alternative, see my Photo Editor Review page.

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