As someone who works on a lot of creative portraits, I was fairly keen to try out the new Luminar 4. I had been asked to review this program, which was just released earlier this week. Last week I wrote a first look at Luminar 4, talking about the tools and what some of them do when working with landscape and some still life images.
This week, I am taking a look at some quick and easy portraits by batch-processing some images from a recent studio session.
Importing the folder of images was fairly easy and straight forward — and VERY quick. Favoriting images with the star system in the library was quick and easy too. There is a single image/group image toggle at the top right-hand corner. Next to that is the size of the image display which you can make larger or smaller, depending on how many images you have displayed.
Stopping first at the Essentials tools, I used the White Balance tool and set my White Balance, tweaked the Temperature and Exposure, played with the Smart Contrast (not sure why it is smart?), then dropped the highlights and increased the shadows a touch … all really easy in the Light tool drop-down panel. I also played with the AI Enhance just a touch.
In the Canvas Panel, I cropped the image and re-centered it slightly. These were all quick and easy to do.
Looking at the Portrait tools
Once I had some basics edits done I then looked at the Portrait tools. Here I used the AI Skin Enhancer and managed to smooth the skin considerably without losing definition in the eyes, nose and mouth, while still keeping the integrity of the skin. This prevented that plastic look, which was quite impressive. It did not remove ALL the skin defects as I had hoped, as it left a red pimple which I had to remove in Clone Stamp (remember — one clone at a time).
Playing with various options for Eye Whitening, Eye Enhancer and Dark Circles Removal. Something to be able to dodge and burn in extra highlights — especially in the eyes — would be a good addition in this panel. However, swapping over to the Pro tools does give you that option. I did like the High Key and Orton Effects in this section, giving a soft dreamy effect to my fantasy portraits. As with most options, I found less is more.
I did try the Eyebrow Improve tool, but it actually seemed to make them stand out too much. Perhaps the eyebrows of my model were pretty good to start with? The Enlarge Eyes tool seemed to distort the eyes, but perhaps in the right situation could be helpful. I tried enlarging the eyes and then using the mask brush away the effect. But it removes ALL of the effects used in that panel.
The Creative tools
In the previous article, I mentioned I really liked the Creative tools, and I still do. The Dramatic, Matte Look and Mystical tools are fabulous — even the Glow added something surreal to my fantasy images. I did try the Sunrays to add a glow in the upper corner, but it is not really suitable for that sort of effect. The Fog and Film Grain can add a faded old world effect IF kept to minimal amounts. Some of the Color Styles (LUTs) were interesting but very heavy on my images. Using the opacity slider reduces the intensity. This gives you the ability to really modify the looks you can create.
One more thing I did not really like about the Clone & Stamp tool when you jump in and out of it to correct a few small defects, it resets to the default 100% settings, not what you last used it at. Perhaps for some this is a good thing, but I personally found it a little annoying.
The Pro tools
The Advanced Contrast in the Pro panel was great, similar to using a tone curve. The Color Enhancer was great for cooling the image down (or warming it up if you prefer) without desaturating the intense colors.
On the other hand, Dodge & Burn was a little clunky but did the trick by adding some highlight and definition to the eyes. However, much like the Clone & Stamp tool, you cannot undo a mistake. There is a reset which resets the whole Dodge & Burn tool. There is an erase option which seemed to remove a mistake and allow you to start over.
I did not really fully grasp the Adjustable Gradient. I did not use the Photo Filter, although it seems easy enough to use, as did the Split Toning.
Finishing and exporting
Once a look was created, I simply saved everything as a custom look (bottom right hand under main picture). This allowed me to use my edits on all the other images in that series.
Exporting is easy — setting options like file location, name, size and quality, all quite simple and really very quick.
Practice will narrow down some of the idiosyncrasies and learn a much faster path to using all the tools. Alternatively, I think using Luminar 4 as a plugin could be fantastic to add some creative magic to your images. Below I have popped in the before and after edits — the before are pretty much straight out of the camera.
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