Skylum has long put an emphasis on developing artificial intelligence tools to make photo editing quicker and easier. LuminarAI, released in late 2020, is the company’s latest dive into AI technologies.

Building upon the company’s technologies released in previous versions of Luminar, LuminarAI pushes the envelope with a redesigned workflow that’s meant to open up new creative possibilities to photographers.

LuminarAI is available as a standalone application for Mac and Windows computers, but can also be run as a plugin for Lightroom Classic, Photoshop and Photos for Mac.


The first image editor fully powered by artificial intelligence. More possibilities, less routing, no learning barrier.

“Our approach to AI lines up with that of the best minds in the field. What differentiates Skylum is our human centric application of this incredibly powerful technology. In my experience, only 30% of our time is actually spent being creative,” said Alex Tsepko, CEO of Skylum.

“LuminarAI uses artificial intelligence to flip those metrics. We created LuminarAI so people can focus on the outcomes and photos, and not worry so much about the editing process.”

Table of Contents

An introduction to LuminarAI

At the core of LuminarAI is the ability to speed up much of the tedious editing that photographers are used to doing. LuminarAI focuses on making complex adjustments easy, so you no longer have to mask, use layers or other tools to get the job done.

LuminarAI is designed for photographers of any skillset, as it features tools for the hobbyist as well as the professional.

The LuminarAI interface

There are four sections to LuminarAI — Catalog, Templates, Edit and Export. When using a plugin, you’ll only see Templates and Edit.

The Catalog is where you can store all of your images. While LuminarAI doesn’t advertise itself as a digital asset manager, it is able to show you all of your photos as you import them in. These photos remain on your hard drive, however, and not in the LuminarAI application.

New to LuminarAI is the Templates section, where you can select from a variety of templates for your image. These are intelligently presented to you based on the contents of your image. You can also browse the templates you’ve marked as favorites, as well as those you’ve created. There are also areas for templates you’ve purchased, as well as for legacy templates from previous versions of Luminar.

The Edit section is where you’ll do the brunt of your work. This section is broken down into four different areas — Essentials, Creative, Portrait and Professional. AI-centric tools are mixed in with traditional tools, and each tool is represented by a different icon.

Finally, the Export section allows you to save your edited image to your hard drive, or share it via your mail application, Messages for macOS, SmugMug and 500px.

Our verdict



Hits: Where LuminarAI hits a home run

1. Easy to use and learn

Photo editing can be time consuming, boring and confusing to learn. But with LuminarAI, it’s easy to jump in and get started. There’s virtually no learning curve, allowing you to get started with a template or custom edits on your images.

LuminarAI automates manual tasks like masking, and reduces the time and complexity usually set aside for those tasks.

2. Templates that provide inspiration and let beginners learn the photo editing process

The Templates section is brand-new to Luminar. Built in collaboration with professional photographers and retouchers, Templates reflect both classic design and modern trends. They take advantage of content-aware AI, helping to make edits on the unique elements of your photographs.

Templates are available based on category, but there’s also a For This Photo section. Here, you can quickly find recommended templates based on the content found in your images.

LuminarAI also makes it easy to dial back the effect of a template, giving you the ability to change the opacity of what’s being applied to your image.

Finally, users can take a template and completely customize it, by clicking over to the Edit section and making further adjustments from there. Your final template can then be saved and synced across images.

3. AI tools that are simple to use and provide results quickly

LuminarAI offers several tools that are powered by AI. These work on all sorts of images — portraits, landscapes, food, street photos and more.

Portrait BokehAI

New in Update 4, Portrait BokehAI lets you have better control over your background. Using automated masking, you can quickly blur out your background and change other characteristics like saturation, exposure and more. Need more control? You can add or erase to the mask, or adjust its edges, with a brush tool and several sliders.


New in LuminarAI, CompositionAI lets you get the perfect frame for your image. Utilizing the golden rules of composition — like the Rule of Thirds — you can automatically get a suggested crop with just the click of a button. CompositionAI also lets you automatically fix alignment and perspective issues with ease.


With BodyAI, you can make your subjects appear lighter or heavier. The adjustments here are subtle, making for realistic results with a single slider. BodyAI works no matter what the position of the person — even if they’re sitting or lying down.


Enhance your subject’s eyes with IrisAI. This tool automatically finds the irises and adds subtle effects, color and catchlight to make your subject’s eyes pop!


FaceAI lets you make adjustments to elements of your subject’s face — eyes, brows, lips and the overall face contour. You can also adjust the lighting on your face, replicating an effect similar to that of a reflector or accent light.


With SkinAI, you can automatically remove blemishes while preserving the details of your subject’s skin, like the pores on a face. You can also reduce shine from oily skin or harsh light.


Add realistic effects to your scene with AtmosphereAI. Here, you can add things like fog, mist, haze, steam and drizzle. The tool automatically analyzes elements in the scene and creates a depth map. This helps to apply the effect and have it naturally interact with other elements in your photo.


With SkyAI, you can easily change the sky in your photo in seconds! SkyAI lets you retain fine details, relight the photo and more for a realistic effect. New to Update 2, SkyAI now can reflect your new sky in the water below. You can also relight your subjects for a more realistic, finished look.

Augmented SkyAI

Do you have a boring sky in your photograph? With Augmented SkyAI, you can add elements into your sky, and have it wrap around foreground elements so it blends in naturally.


Get natural lighting and life-like color with AccentAI. This tool analyzes your image to identify issues with brightness, contrast and color, and helps to balance them out. Perfect for portrait and landscapes, AccentAI can be a major time-saver in just a single slider.

Sky EnhancerAI

Skylum announces Sky Enhancer

Need to take your sky to the next level? With Sky EnhancerAI, you can make your sky pop and add additional depth to your image.


Add depth and clarity to your photo with StructureAI. This tool recognizes the contents in your scene, and helps to pull out critical detail when necessary.

4. Easy sky replacement options with fine-tuning

With SkyAI, you can easily swap out a boring sky for something more inspiring! Turn a grey sky into a beautiful blue sky, or an evening sunset into a night scene with ease.

SkyAI lets you adjust several variables with your new sky. In addition to changing the orientation and rotation of your sky, you can add grain and blur. You can also change the horizon position for a seamless blend to your sky.

But that’s not all — SkyAI lets you relight your scene based on your new sky. And with Update 2, you can now relight the subjects in your scene.

Finally, SkyAI now lets you reflect your new sky in the water below, making for a realistic result that showcases your sky like never before.

5. Realistic landscape tools that can take your photos to the next level

In addition to the landscape-centric AI tools mentioned above, LuminarAI has several other tools that let you optimize your outdor scene.

Use Sunrays to add a new light source to your photo, and control its position, warmth and glow to help relight your scene.

Using Sunrays in a landscape photo in Luminar 3

You can also utilize the Foliage Enhancer, which makes trees, grass, shrubs and more pop off your screen.

Bring in some golden light with the Golden Hour slider, or use Dehaze to apply a perfect blend of contrast, clarity and color adjustments to help eliminate the effects of fog and haze.

6. Local Masking tool that lets you add layer-like effects to your photos

Ever wanted to add a frame or special effect to your image? Or do you have a specific portion of your image that you want to work on? With Local Masking, you can do all of this with ease.

Add a Basic Local Mask to selectively adjust things like exposure, shadows, highlights and more. Or, use a Texture Overlay to bring in a frame around your image, special effect or watermark.

7. Available as a plugin for Lightroom Classic, Photoshop and Photos for macOS

Already have a photo editing or management platform you’re happy with? No problem! Use LuminarAI as a plugin and add extra capabilities to your workflow.

Misses: What could use some work in LuminarAI

1. Catalog provides limited options for metadata and organization

While LuminarAI offers some organizational tools, things like editing metadata, color labels, star ratings and more are missing. If you rely on these, you might want to use LuminarAI as a plugin.

2. Can’t transfer catalogs from previous versions of Luminar

If you have a previous version of Luminar, you’ll have to manually export and import your images if you want to use them with LuminarAI. If you have a big photo library, we suggest checking out Cyme.

3. Template saving process needs work

While you’re able to rename your templates after saving them, there’s no way to immediately give a name to your template. Instead, it’ll be named something like “My Template edit 5,” and you’ll have to go into the My Templates area to rename.

4. No plugin for Capture One, ON1 or others

While LuminarAI has plugins for Lightroom Classic, Photoshop and Photos for macOS, it’s lacking plugins for other major software applications like Capture One, Affinity Photo, ON1, DxO and more. Photoshop Elements isn’t officially supported either, but there’s a workaround for that.

5. Doesn’t integrate with Aurora HDR

Skylum doesn’t integrate its Aurora HDR program into the mix, either. This means you’ll have to export your image to your hard drive, open it in Aurora HDR, and then bring it back into LuminarAI if you so choose. We’d like to see Aurora HDR integrated like a plugin within LuminarAI, so that those who use the Luminar Catalog system can take full advantage of Aurora’s HDR capabilities.

Who is LuminarAI meant for?

LuminarAI provides solutions for both beginning and professional photographers. Whether you use it as a standalone application or plugin, LuminarAI has several tools that can elevate your photos.

That said, if you’re a high-end retoucher or someone looking for an all-in-one replacement to Lightroom, you might want to look elsewhere. Still, you might find LuminarAI‘s tools beneficial to use as a plugin.

Ready to get LuminarAI?

Want to see all of what LuminarAI can offer you? Skylum offers a 30-day money-back guarantee of LuminarAI so you can test drive it for yourself.

Plus, if you purchase through Photofocus, you’ll get $10 off the regular price and a free boot camp training course to help get you started!


The first image editor fully powered by artificial intelligence. More possibilities, less routing, no learning barrier.