Chapter 7: Edit View

The Edit view is where you enhance your images. You’ll access controls from three primary areas.  The Toolbar contains general-purpose and frequently used functions of the software.  The Side Panel is located to the right of the main image display; all adjustment tools, layers and the histogram can be found here. You can also save time with the Luminar Looks Panel which offers one-click presets at the bottom of the screen.

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Edit Toolbar    

As you work with an image, the Edit Toolbar contains many commands that you’ll frequently use.  These are grouped logically for easier use. Here are the buttons from left to right.

Open Button Menu.

The first button controls how files are opened, processed, and exported.  Clicking the Open button reveals two choices.

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  • Import Images To. Copies images into a destination folder.
  • Add Folder. Add an existing folder on your computer to your Luminar library.
  • Open Images for Quick Edit. Bring individual images into Luminar for editing.

Navigation Buttons

These buttons control how you can navigate folders in your library.  As your library gets bigger, you’ll likely find yourself using folder more and more to keep images better organized.

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  • Navigate Up. Go up one folder in your Luminar library.
  • Current Location. View the current folder and navigate to adjacent folders in the file structure.

Show Button

This menu controls the opening and closing the different panels.  You can make items visible for more control or hide things you don’t need for a larger editing canvas.

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  • Filmstrip. A thin stripe of images along the left edge to browse images in the same folder or group.
  • Side Panel. Access the Library, Edit, or Info panel.
  • Current Photo Actions. View the name, rating, and labels for the selected image.

Luminar Looks Panel Button

The Luminar Looks Panel on the bottom of the Luminar workspace is where you’ll find all of your presets.  These include those created by the Luminar team as well as your own custom Looks.  To hide the Luminar Looks Panel, just click the button to toggle visibility or use the Tab key to hide both the Side and Preset Panels.

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Zoom Buttons

These next three buttons are used for changing your view of the image size in the canvas. If you go from left to right the buttons do the following. 

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  • Magnification Level.  The first menu controls the zoom level.  Click the drop-down menu to choose from a preset.
  • Zoom Out.  This option reduces the view size of the displayed image. The shortcut is Cmd+- (minus). You can see the current zoom level in the magnification level field. 
  • Zoom In. This option increases the view size of the displayed image. The shortcut is Cmd+= (equals).
  • To see the Original Size press Cmd + 1 to view a 100% magnification showing the pixels in actual size.  To Fit to Screen press Cmd + 0 and the image will size itself to the canvas.

Comparison Buttons

These buttons allow you to compare the original image with the original default image, so you can easily compare how your enhancements changes the original image. 

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  • Quick Preview. The eyeball icon can quickly toggle between the original image and the enhanced version.  Another way to see this change is to use the keyboard shortcut \ (backslash).  This allows you to quickly compare the current image with the original. This is the fastest and most convenient mode of comparison.
  • Compare Button. This button activates a comparison where the image is divided by a vertical strip (“curtain”). The original image (Before) is displayed on the left, and the current result (After) is on the right. This vertical strip can be dragged left or right, so you can view the differences in the picture.

Tools Menu

The Tools menu holds specialty tools that help you modify an image or layer.  These tools will be explored in-depth later in this guide. 

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  • Crop (C). The Crop tool allows you to hide parts of an image to change its composition or to prepare it for display at a certain size or aspect ratio (such as a 5X7 print).  The Crop tool also makes it easy to align (straighten) the horizon in an image if it’s not horizontal.  You’ll learn more about cropping in the chapter “Crop & Transform a Photo.”
  • Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl + T). This tool makes it easy to transform a layer.  Once active you can drag a handle at the side of the image to resize the width or height.  Click the Lock icon in the info area if you want to force the image to maintain its original shape.  You can also enter a specific size in pixels by clicking on a number.
  • Clone & Stamp (Cmd/Ctrl + J). The Clone & Stamp tool lets you sample pixels from one part of the image (just hold down the Option key and click on the source pixels).  You can then click and paint in another part of the image to add those pixels into a new area.  You’ll learn more in the chapter “Removing an Object.”
  • Erase (Cmd/Ctrl + E). The Erase tool is similar to the Clone & Stamp tool.  The key difference is that you don’t need to choose where to sample pixels from.  Simply click and paint on an unwanted object and pixels surrounding it will blend and try to remove the object from the image. You’ll also learn more about erasing in the chapter “Removing an Object.”

View Buttons

The next three buttons control the layout of the Luminar application window.  You will switch depending on the task at hand.

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  • Library. Browse image folders and albums.
  • Edit. Adjust an image with filters for a perfect appearance.
  • Info. View a selected image’s metadata to learn more about a file.

Share Image Button

 The last button in the top Toolbar is used to share an image from the application to other applications. The same image can also be shared with other editing software from Skylum (and others) or uploaded directly to social networks and other online services.

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  • Export to Image.  Creates a new file in a common image format.
  • Services.  Choose to send to system applications or upload directly to photo sharing websites.
  • Open In. Send to other Skylum applications or to other photo editing applications


The Filmstrip displays a strip of images along the left side of the interface.  It shows you all of the images in the currently selected view, album, or folder.  It’s a convenient way to select images without having to switch back to the Library view.

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Edit Side Panel

The Side Panel gives you access to three important sets of controls.  The Histogram is a useful tool for judging exposure and details. Layers lets you work with multiple objects to create a composite image or to isolate effects or textures to their own place.  The Filters section gives you precise control over each filter you’ve added to a layer.

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Histogram/Layers/History Buttons

 At the top of the side panel are three buttons that provide advanced controls over your images.  If you are just getting started with Luminar 2018, you might leave these three options deactivated.  However, as you grow comfortable with editing tasks or are looking for the most flexibility and control, be sure to explore them.

  • Histogram. While color correcting or adjusting exposure, the histogram can be a great help. This graph illustrates how the pixels in the image are distributed across brightness levels.  More on the Histogram in the next section.
  • Layers. In Luminar, a layer can contain an image, transparency, and filter information. This allows you to combine (or composite) multiple images into a new image as well as make complex adjustments with maximum flexibility.  By isolating discrete elements to their own layers, it is easier to control options such as transparency and blending. For most users, it’s a good idea to leave your Layers panel open while you work; this is where most of the action takes place. The Layers panel is like the steering wheel of a car. We’ll explore layers in depth in the chapter “Working with Layers.”
  • History. Luminar keeps a list of what you have done to the image since you opened it. These are multiple undos and an easy way to go back in time. Simply click on an earlier History State to revert the photo to that stage of editing. History states are also saved with an image automatically in your Luminar catalog.


While color correcting or adjusting exposure, the histogram can be a great help. A histogram is a graphical representation of the tonal values of your image. This graph illustrates how the pixels in the image are distributed across brightness levels. In other words, it shows the amount of tones of particular brightness found in your photograph ranging from black (0% brightness) to white (100% brightness). Ideally, well-balanced images will have tonal values across the entire range of the histogram. 

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To read a histogram, start at the left edge, which shows the shadow regions. The middle shows the midtones (where most adjustments to an image are made), and to the right are the highlights.  

The histogram is able to display Red, Green, Blue channels separately or, by default, shows all of them at once.  Click on the Histogram to switch between seeing a composite Histogram or just viewing details about the Red, Green, and Blue channels (which can be useful for spotting tint issues and color casts). You can also see a grayscale average for luminance. 

Additionally, clicking the two small triangles in the upper left and upper right corners will show hot and cold pixels respectively.  These are pixels that have shifted or exposed to become absolutely black or white pixels.   

  • Cold Pixels. To enable or disable the display mode of absolutely black pixels, click the triangle on the left and the histogram is clipped on the left side. Absolutely black pixels will be displayed in bright blue in the image.  Cold pixels (in blue) indicate areas where black has achieved maximum concentration (a zero value).
  • Hot Pixels.  Clicking the triangle on the upper right will show where your image is completely white, where the histogram is clipped on the right side. Absolutely white pixels are displayed in red.

In both cases, this can be problematic (especially for printing) as there is too much ink coverage for cold pixels and no details at all in the hot pixels.  These indicators are a sign that you should adjust the exposure of the image. You may want to leave the Histogram panel open as you work because it is an easy way to learn to read the graphical details of a digital image.



The use of the Develop and RAW Develop filters are an excellent way to take control of the Black and White points as well as the Shadows and Highlights of an image.  Pressing the J key will also toggle the clipping indicators On and Off if you want to see the pixels underneath.



Layers are a powerful way to “build up” your images, with different enhancements and use of blending modes on each layer. Using layers, you can apply corrections or enhancements on different layers, and experiment until you achieve exactly the look you’d like for your image. 

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  • To create a new layer. Click on the + button in the Layers Toolbar header.  A small pop-up menu will appear giving you the option of creating a layer using one of two options.
    • Use an Adjustment Layer to create a layer to which you can apply a preset or any other adjustment in the Filters panel. 
    • The Add New Image Layer option will show a standard Open File dialog, allowing you to create a new layer with a texture file or another image that you’ve chosen.
  • To remove the layer. Select the layer and click - in the Layers Toolbar title.

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  • To change the blending mode of the layer. Set the Layer Blending mode in the drop-down list under the word Layers or in the fly-out menu indicated by the Gear icon underneath the + icon. You cannot set the blending mode for the first layer because it is not mixed with anything — it is the baseline image. More on blending modes in the chapter “Working with Layers.” 
  • Layer Opacity Setting. Click on the drop-down menu with percentages near the word Opacity. Drag the slider to customize the opacity for the selected layer.  Opacity controls how opaque a layer is (and is the opposite of transparency).
  • Access Advanced Settings and Functions of a Layer. Click on the Gear icon below the + icon. A context menu appears with additional features to apply to the layer.
  • To Change the Order of Layers. All the layers except the first are movable. Click on the layer and drag to move the selected layer to the new location.  Changing the stacking order or layers can affect the order of operation (how images are developed) which can change its appearance.
  • Show / Hide the Layer. Click on the eyeball on the right side of a layer to toggle between visible and hidden.

You’ll learn more about layers in the chapter “Working with Layers.”


Filters are how you can adjust the exposure, color, contrast, and style of your image in Luminar.  The proper use of filters can significantly improve your image.  Each filter is designed to solve specific problems or enhance an image in a particular way. The Filters section of the side panel shows any filters you have applied or that are included in a workspace. 

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Filters can be stacked in any order to change their order of operations.  You can also add masks to filters to control their results.  Filters can also have other properties like their blending mode and visibility adjusted. 

You’ll learn more about each filter in the chapter “Using Filters.”

Workspace Switcher

Luminar offers workspaces to streamline your approach to editing. Each workspace is a customized group of filters designed for a particular style of editing.  Luminar offers pre-built workspaces that have been designed for particular tasks. You’ll find that using Luminar’s purpose-built workspaces offer uniquely tailored tools which achieve great results quickly. 

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Current Photo Actions

Below the currently selected image is a series of quick controls so you can both review the status of an image or apply criteria to help with sorting.

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  • File Name. View the name of the currently selected image.
  • Color Label. Apply a color label to indicate the status or category for an image.
  • Flagged Image. A Flagged or Favorite image will have its heart icon filled in.  This is a top-level rating that wil; help you find your best images.
  • Reject Image. Clicking the X will dim the image in your library.  This is an alternative to deleting files that you don’t want to use.
  • Rating. Apply a star rating of 1–5 stars to help sort your images based on quality.
  • Move to Trash. Click the Trashcan icon to move the file to Luminar’s trash where is is queued for deletion.

Luminar Looks Browser

The Luminar Looks Browser contains all of the one-click Presets available in Luminar 3. These Luminar Looks can be applied to any open image or to a new Adjustment layer.  To apply a Look, simply click on its thumbnail.  To adjust the intensity of the effect, use the Amount slider to blend the adjustment. 

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Canvas Controls

The Editing Canvas is the view portal that shows you the image as your edit. You can change the background color of the canvas by choosing View > Background > (Color). Different shades of gray are offered to provide proper contrast and a neutral viewing area.

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