Luminar Essentials – Color Tool

The Essentials Tools Panel in Skylum Luminar is a set of filters. They are some of the most frequently used tools in image post-processing workflows. This article is an ultimate guide to the Luminar Color Tool Tab, which sits within the Essentials Tools Panel.

The Color Tool allows you to globally target the saturation and vibrance in your image. You can also choose to pinpoint specific colour tones. Generally, you use Color Tool in conjunction with Light Tools and/or the AI Enhance editor. For example, you could have an image where you need to desaturate or enhance a particular colour, but leave the other colours untouched.

You can achieve some radical edits to your images using Color Tools. Here is a very short (55 second) demo from the Skylum team:

Luminar Color Tool

The basic Luminar Color Tool controls consist of three sliders. These are Saturation, Vibrance and Remove Color Cast.

Saturation

Saturation is a global slider which changes the saturation of all tones in an image. This is particularly useful if you want to completely desaturate your image to grey-scale. For example in preparation for producing a black and white image. It is also useful if you have a slightly under/over-saturated image that needs correction.

However, unless you are making radical changes like in the Skylum demo, the saturation slider is best used sparingly to avoid your pictures looking radioactive.

Here is an example showing the two extremes achievable using the global saturation slider.

Saturated
Saturated
Saturated
Original
Original
Desaturated
Desaturated
Global Saturation Slider

Vibrance

The Vibrance slider in Luminar is another saturation slider. Vibrance works globally on all tones within an image. The Vibrance slider ignores already saturated colours. If you have slightly under or oversaturated areas that need targetting in your image, the Vibrance slider is the place to start rather than the Saturation slider. This is because you have much finer control over global saturation levels.

Here is an example with the two extremes of the Luminar Vibrance slider.

Vibrance = 100
Vibrance = 100
Vibrance = 100
Original
Original
Vibrance = -100
Vibrance = -100

If you compare this to the previous example, you can see that the change is more subtle. For example, the grass areas are not impacted when more Vibrance was applied. Applying less Vibrance has flattened the image rather than desaturating it completely.


Color Cast

A colour cast is a tint of a particular colour, usually unwanted, that evenly affects a photographic image in whole or in part. Certain types of light can cause film and digital cameras to render a colour cast [Wikipedia]. The Luminar Color Cast slider automatically determines if there is a colour cast in your image, and then corrects for that by adjusting the colour balance.

An example is if you forgot to set your camera white balance to incandescent when shooting portraits at night. Your images to have a yellow glow, which in particular looks wrong on skin tones. The use of the Luminar Color Cast slider will remove that.

Color Tool Advanced Settings

The advanced setting section in the Color Tool consist of 8 radio buttons. There is one button for each block of colour.

Within each colour block you get sliders for Hue, Saturation, & Luminance. There is also a Hue Shift slider, but this adjusts all hues globally.

As a working example, lets say you have a colour photo, and want to desaturate it with the exception of a single colour. The Color Tool can do this for you! In the example below, all the colour blocks are set to a saturation of -100; with the exception of the Red colour block.

Take a look at the result below:

After
After
After
Before
Before
Advanced Color Tools

You may have seen this technique used in photography before. The image is black and white except for the red lighthouse and the float on the ship. Desaturating all colours except for the red has given us a classic colour pop effect.

It is possible to take this effect even further using the Hue Shift slider. Hue Shift affects all colours globally, but because we have isolated red, we can now change the red colour to any other colour we want.

For our example, setting the Luminar Hue Slider to a yellow tone filters the red tone into blue. Take a look at the next example below.

After
After
After
Before
Before
Advanced Color Tools

Another example of what you can do in the Color Tool is to target specific colours that are either over or under saturated. For example if you have an image where you want to brighten the saturation of the foliage. Select the Green radio button and increase the Luminance and/or Saturation, this will only impact the green tones in the image.

Edit Mask Capability

To use the Edit Mask from the drop-down menu, you first apply The Color Tool effects you want. Then selecting Brush in the Edit Mask drop-down menu, you can paint the areas of the image you want to affect.

You can change the brush size using the bracket keys:

  • [ = Smaller Brush
  • ] = Larger Brush

You can also change the flow of the effect for finer control over the edit.

Luminar Color Tool Conclusions

The Color Tools capability is an extremely powerful way of editing your images. Either used on its own or with the other suite of tools at your disposal in Luminar, you are only really limited by your imagination.

This Luminar Essentials article forms a suite of interactive guides on the Skylum Luminar photo editing software. If you found this useful, please check out our other Luminar articles and how-to guides in the Learn Photography section of our site.

If you don’t yet have a copy of Luminar, but would like to purchase one, you can get a copy from the Luminar website.


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