Luminar Essentials – Color Tool

Luminar Color

The Essentials Tools Panel in Skylum Luminar is a set of filters. These filters are frequently used in many image post-processing workflows. This article is an ultimate guide to the Color Filter. and is accessed in Luminar from the Edit Module, and then by left-clicking the Essentials Tools Panel.

Edit Module

The Color Filter 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 Filter 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 Filters. Here is a very short (55 second) demo from the Skylum team. Note, this is made with Luminar 4 as opposed to Luminar AI, but the features are exactly the same.

Luminar Color Tool

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


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.

Global Saturation Slider


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
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.

Remove 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 Remove 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 (HSL)

The advanced setting section in the Color Filter has had a refresh in Luminar AI compared to the previous version Luminar 4.

The panel is now much more aligned with Adobe Lightroom. The panel is now called HSL, and stands for Hue, Saturation & Luminance.

You access the advanced settings by left-clicking the HSL text at the bottom of the Color Panel

consist of 8 radio buttons. There is one button for each block of colour. You are then presented with a pull down menu for each of Hue, Saturation, & Luminance, as well as sliders for each colour grouping.

To briefly explain this. Hue is the tone of the colour for each group. Saturation is the brightness of the tone, and Luminance is how light or dark the tone is.

Worked Examples:

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:

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.

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.

Paint Mask Capability

Color Denoise

All of the AI tools in Luminar also contain a Paint Mask option. This option is selectable by left-clicking the paint brush symbol at the top of the Color tab.

Paint Mask allows you to selectively paint the Enhance AI filter to regions of the image that you choose. Giving you even more creative power over the effect.

By default, you can brush the effect onto the image with control over the the Radius, Softness, and Opacity of the paint effect by using the respective sliders.

However a new enhancement in Luminar AI allows you to also add Radial filters as well as Gradient filters as well as a Paint Mask.

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 or using the slider:

  • [ = Smaller Brush
  • ] = Larger Brush

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

To use the Gradient and Radial mask filters, you simply select the respective gradient in the pull down menu, and then left-click and drag on your image; where you want the effect to be applied. You can then refine the effect using the sliders and/or choose to invert the effect

Luminar Color Filter 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.

Here are some other Luminar articles which may interest you:

Luminar Structure AI
Luminar AI Structure

An interactive guide to the Luminar AI Structure Tool capability.

Luminar Details Enhancer
Luminar Details Enhancement

An interactive guide to Luminar Details Enhancement filters.

Luminar Landscape Enhancer
Landscape Enhancer

The Landscape Enhancer is great for removing haze from your images, and for enhancing sunsets and foliage.


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