By now you have seen and heard the hype about the new features added to Luminar 4 — with most new features using the power of artificial intelligence. Skies are replaced with a single click, portraits receive a quick makeover as eyes are enhanced, blemishes removed and skin retouched just by moving a few sliders. AI was added to some of our favorite tools like Structure, making it human-aware. These tools can now automatically detect people in a photo and won’t over-process them.
With all these great new features, it may have been easy to overlook the new clutter-free makeover Luminar’s user interface (UI) received. If it sounds like I have an inside scoop, it should. Recently I’ve been promoted to Skylum’s Director of Education, a position I’m proud to have. Skylum has agreed to allow to continue to write for Photofocus and to stay active as a working sports and portrait photographer. This enables me to give solid practical advice as a photographer and share firsthand knowledge of the new changes to Luminar 4.
Proper planning to ensure peek performance
Lots of time, energy and planning went into designing the new UI. Skylum engineers were tasked to make photo editing a seamless experience so photographers can create stunning shots with less effort. This meant they had to start by studying user experience (UX) and user journeys (including screencasts and lots of feedback).
They created the features and workflow of Luminar 4 based on the user’s experience — rather than make them figure out why something works the way it does. It led them to rethink the concept of filters and converted them to tools, giving them the power to solve problems and unlock creativity.
Luminar’s user interface
Luminar’s interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. Along the Top Toolbar are three viewing tabs; Library, Edit and Info. You can view the tab’s panel by clicking on the name of the tab.
The Library view
The Library view is where you explore your images. This canvas is designed to be enjoyable for browsing. It also makes it easy to rate and sort your images. Use the Library view to organize your images or to select photos for further editing.
The Edit view
The Edit view is where you enhance your images. You’ll access controls from three primary areas. The Toolbar contains general-purpose and frequently used functions of the software. The side panel is located to the right of the main image display; all adjustment tools, layers and the histogram can be found here. You can also save time with the Luminar Looks panel, which offers one-click presets at the bottom of the screen.
The Info view
The Info view provides basic information about a photo including the histogram. When the Info view is activated, the filename of the image is displayed along with basic metadata.
How tools are organized for a faster workflow
Tools are organized into tabs for their intended purpose, making it easy for users to locate and understand what they do. To create a faster workflow, some of the older filters from previous versions of Luminar have been combined into one tool.
Now, when you need to adjust the color of an image, you can use the Color tool from Essentials. This tool combined three old filters; Saturation and Vibrance, Remove Color Cast and Hue Saturation and Luminance (HSL). With most tools, clicking Advanced Settings reveals more options. These options are used less often so tucking them away under Advanced Settings help add to the clutter-free UI.
Essential tools are some of the most frequently used in Luminar. These tools perform core adjustments that are useful for most images. These tools are a great starting point to enhance and develop your image. I usually start with AI Accent and then use the other tools as needed.
Creative tools are designed to unlock mood or emotion in an image. A wide range of choices can be used as individual tools or in combination to create new looks. I often combine the Dramatic tool with AI Structure and Detail Enhancer to create my signature Sports Grit look.
Portrait tools are designed to enhance portraits faster than ever with revolutionary human-aware technology producing amazingly realistic results with portraits shot in a studio or outdoors. I use AI Skin Enhancer to automatically smooth skin and remove blemishes followed by Portrait Enhancer to enhance eyes, remove dark shadows under the eyes and sometimes slim the face for a more flattering portrait.
Professional tools allow complete control over images for precise adjustments. These tools offer more control for fine adjustments in an image. I use the Adjustable Gradient tool when I need to direct light or the traditional Dodge & Burn tool to hand paint where I want shadows and highlights. I try my best to avoid having to rely on these tools to fix my image, instead, I strive to use them to enhance them.
Skylum’s goal is to free photographers from dull, repetitive work and allows them to focus on creating art. Luminar’s new clutter-free sleek UI is helping make this possible.
Pre-order and launch details
Luminar 4 has a release date of November 18, 2019. It can be pre-ordered today for $79, which comes with a bonus one-year plan to SmugMug. If you purchase through Photofocus, you’ll also receive a bundle full of Lookup Tables, training videos, skies for AI Sky Replacement and more.
If you’re a current Luminar 3 or Luminar Flex subscriber, you can upgrade for $69. Upon release, Luminar 4 will retail for $89, with the upgrade available for $69.