Being able to add warmth and directional light to an image is one of the benefits of using Luminar’s Sunrays filter. Laurie Rubin will show you how you can add light to your subject and how to control it using masking techniques.

Why Use the Sunrays Filter?

Let’s begin by discussing a few examples of why would you use the Sunrays filter in Luminar.

Perhaps you are out photographing a beautiful subject but you feel that creative urge to bring out the light and get a more artistic look and feel with your final image.

Or maybe you are out photographing an amazing landscape and you have traveled many miles to get to this special place. But when you get back to your digital darkroom, you notice that the sun rays that you saw while you were there, were much more dramatic than what you are seeing on your computer.

There is an easy way you can enhance the light in your images using Luminar. Adding a bit of directional light that you control can also create a more dramatic image. Using several of Pro Photographer, Dixie Dixon's images, we will show you how to add sun rays globally to your image, and also how to selectively add or remove it from parts of your image.

A couple of reasons why you might want to add the Sunrays filter in Luminar

    • Add warmth to your image
    • Add dimension
    • Highlight your subject
    • Add an interesting element to your image
    • Control the light

Adding A Sunrays Effect

We will begin by adding a Sunrays filter to a portrait image (globally), and then use the Masking Brush to remove it from our subject (selectively) and then get a bit creative by adding a LUT (Lookup Table) to soften the effect with a warm color tone. 

Step 1 - Adding a Filter

1. The easiest way to add a filter is to simply click on the blue Add Filters button (in the FILTERS panel on the right side of the screen). The Filters Catalog will appear.

2. Scroll down to the Creative section and click on the Sunrays filter. (You can also start typing in the name of the filter into the Search field as a quick way to find a filter.)

Step 2 - Positioning the Sun

1. With the Sunrays filter now displayed, choose Place Sun Center. Click and drag the dot on your screen to place the center of the sun where ever you choose on your image. 

Clicking on the Place Sun Center button will allow you to move the sun’s position anywhere on the image. When using the Sunrays filter, you want to make this effect look as natural as possible. Find where the natural sun is and place it into position. Otherwise, you might be called out on having double suns! If the sun is not visible in your image, look to see where the light direction is coming from. 

Note: You can move the Sun Center off the screen by moving the X or Y sliders.

2. To disable and hide the dot, simply click on the Place Sun Center.

Step 3 - The Sunrays, Sun, and Overall Sections

  • Sunrays - This controls the look of the sun rays themselves. You can change the amount of rays, the length, and warmth and get just the look that you want.
  • Sun - If you want the sun’s size or glow amount to change, you can adjust these sliders. 
  • Overall - You can increase the overall intensity of the rays or soften the rays. This section also lets you get different randomized looks of the rays themselves. 

Selectively Adding or Removing Sunrays

So far, we added the Sunrays filter to the entire image. But what if you want to remove some of the sun rays off your subject? or add them to a specific area? Luminar makes it easy!

Step 4 - Masking for more Realistic Results

The last step is to ensure that your sun rays look as natural as possible. With the layer still active, select the brush icon. There are three different masking options to choose from.

  • Brush - You can selectively paint or erase the filter effect from any area in your image. 
  • Radial Mask - Create a circular mask that can be adjusted to be a circle or oblong shape. By inverting this mask, you can soften the edges of your sun rays.
  • Gradient Mask - Choose this option if you want a horizontal gradient effect that you can adjust up or down and also the transition between soft and hard.

In this example, we are using the Masking Brush and choosing the erase (-) to remove any sun rays that might be overlapping our subject. You can also choose to change the size of your brush and opacity (amount of erasing) that you want to remove from your image. 

Step 5 - Using the Masking Brush to remove a Filter

1. Click on the Masking Brush and choose Brush

2. The BRUSH selection will appear. Since we want to remove the Sunrays filter effect from part of the image, make sure that Erase is selected. You can also choose to reduce the Opacity (the amount of erasing).

3. Begin by painting the areas that you don't want the Sunrays filter to be applied to. 

Note: To see where you are removing (or adding) a filter, click on the Show Mask button. 

4. When you are done, click on the blue Done button.

5. To see your before and after results, click on the visibility icon (eye).

Getting Creative

This image is really warming up with the Sunrays filter applied to it! Be sure to use your masking tools to customize the look of the sun rays even more to get a more natural look to your image. Let's take this a step further by adding a LUT (Lookup Table) to change the overall color and tone to this image. (To learn more about LUT's, visit this page.)

Step 6 - Adding An Adjustment Layer

By adding an Adjustment Layer, this will allow us to isolate the LUTs filter so that we can make adjustments to it on a single layer without changing the Sunrays filter. 

Pro Tip: You can make adjustments such as masking to any individual filter by selecting the filter (an orange outline will appear) and then you can make further adjustments without affecting any other filters on that layer. 


 1. Under LAYERS, choose Add New Adjustment Layer.

2. Choose the blue Add Filters button

3. Select the LUT Mapping filter

4. For this image, we will be selecting the 1960 option. This will give our image a soft desaturated look and feel.

Step 7 - Selectively Adding a Filter Effect to an Image

1. Repeat Step 5, but instead of selecting the Erase tool, choose Paint. This will Add the filter effect to your image. Paint in the background. 

2. Add a bit of the LUT Mapping filter to your subject by changing the Opacity of your brush.

Here is the result of adding the 1960 LUT Mapping Filter to an image with the Sunrays filter.

Adding A Little Sunshine 

Sometimes you might want to add just an extra bit of warmth and sun rays to your image. Don't be afraid to try it! You can always go back to your original image since Luminar is non-destructive.

Here is an example of another one of Dixie Dixon's images where we added the Sunrays filter and added just a little bit of extra sun rays to her image.

In Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed this lesson and that you will try the Sunrays filter on your own images. Experiment with the Masking tools to either add or remove the effect from your images. We'd love to see your before and after images by posting them to our Skylum Photography Facebook Group.