Luminar Layers -Alter Hair Colour In Portraits

Here is a short article on how to change the hair colour in a portrait using the Luminar post-processing software. The simple technique uses Layers and Masks.

To start with here is a video from Skylum demonstrating the technique. The video zips through the process really quickly. In the tutorial, we will step you through the process at a slower pace, and with a few extra hints and tips on using the Luminar software.

Whilst this tutorial is focussed on changing the hair colour in a portrait, its also a great introduction to the power of layers within the Luminar toolset.

Luminar Layers

Ok, so let’s open up Luminar and import our starting image (Fig 1). If you want to follow along step by step, the image is available here to download from our site.

Luminar Layers
Figure 1: Starting image opened in Luminar 4

Now we simply duplicate the layer (Figure 2). To do this, click on the layers symbol at the top of the right-hand toolbar. Right now, there is just one layer in the layers panel. Click the ‘…’ symbol within the single layer, and then left-click the Duplicate Layer pop-up (Figure 2).

Luminar Layers
Figure 2: Duplicate Layer

You should now have two layers in the layer panel. The original locked layer, and the new ‘Copy of’ layer (Figure 3).

Luminar Layers
Figure 3 – New layer for us to work on!

By default, you should have the new copy layer selected, if not then left-click the copy-layer.

For this tutorial, I am going to use a hair colour that is less radioactive than the one in the video, but you go ahead and choose whatever colour you want by experimenting with the sliders!

Left-click on the Essentials button in the right-hand side toolbar, it’s the one that looks like a sun. Then click the Color option within the Essentials panel (Fig 4). To avoid the radioactive issue I mentioned above, I am going to leave saturation and vibrance sliders alone. Instead, I am going straight into the advanced settings drop-down menu. I am going to change the model’s hair colour from a blonde to light brown. To do this I am targetting individual hues. I selected the orange hue button, and then:

  • Increased the orange hue slider to 100
  • Reduced the saturation to -65
  • Reduced luminance to -10
  • Set hue shift to -41
Color Panel
Figure 4: Color Panel

One thing, If you are playing around with the sliders, and want to reset back to datum. Just double click and you are there!

I have included a screenshot of the new layer, and you can see that the edits have affected the whole layer. So our next step is to add a layer mask.

Luminar Masking

At the bottom of the Color-Panel is another drop-down menu called ‘Edit Mask’ (Figure 5). Left-click it, and you get four options 1) Brush, 2) Radial Mask, 3) Gradient Mask and 4) Luminosity. Left-click Brush.

Figure 5: Edit Mask Options

By default, you get a pretty large brush to work with, but you can change this easily either by pressing:

  • ‘[‘ = smaller brush
  • ‘]’ = larger brush

Alternatively, there is a brush size slider located on the top of the image itself. It’s a lighter grey panel (see Figure 6). When I am using the mask brush, I tend to use a large brush for the block areas, and then a smaller brush for the fine details.

I tend also to zoom into the image so that I can better see what I am doing with the brush. The zoom control is right next to the brush size slider. For this edit, I zoomed in by 50%.

Figure 7: Masking in progress

As the video says, you can spend as much time as you need getting the mask right. When you are happy you left-click the ‘Done’ button, and that its, your edit is saved. Here is a before-after image so you can see the result.


Luminar Layers – Conclusions

Luminar has made the job of changing hair colour on a photo really quite easy with the use of layers and masks. The controls are intuitive, and whilst not as extensive as other, more expensive software, do give the options than most people will need when post-processing.

If you enjoyed this article, please take a look at our other Learn Photography articles.

Here are some other Luminar articles that may be of interest to you:

Luminar Articles

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