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Masking options in Luminar

The use of masks allow you to hide or obscure parts of an image, or apply an effect selectively on your image. Masks are useful so you can combine the contents or results of one layer with your primary image. 

Layer Masks allow you to use powerful painting tools to control their results. The more you work on combining multiple images, the more you’ll use masks. 

Filter Mask.

One way to apply a mask is directly to a filter. This workflow allows you to isolate the results of a specific area. Perhaps it’s to enhance just the sky or to add details to a specific area of an image. The use of the Gradient Mask and Radial Mask mode can also be helpful to smoothly blend a filter.

To create a Filter Mask:

  • Select an individual filter in the Filters area.
  • Right-click on the Filter and choose Mask from the pop-up menu.
  • Use one of the available options to control the mask.

Clear Mask. This option hides the results of the filter entirely. Use the paint brush or gradient tools to add details back to the image. Fill Mask. This option attaches a mask filled with white that reveals all details of the filter. Use the Brush tool to paint with black and subtract from the mask. Paint on the mask to add or subtract (more on those tools later in this chapter).

Check out a Luminar video.

Layer Mask.


Another way to use masks is by attaching them to a layer. This approach is most useful when you want to globally mask parts of an image layer or to blend several filters at once. This mask can be edited using the Masking Brush or Gradient Mask and Radial Mask tools.

To create a Layer Mask:

  • Select an individual layer in the Layers area.
  • Right-click on a layer and choose Mask from the pop-up menu.
  • Use one of the available options to control the mask.

Clear Mask. This option hides the results of the filter entirely. Use the paint brush or gradient tools to add details back to the image.

Fill Mask. This option attaches a mask filled with white that reveals all details of the filter. Use the Brush tool to paint with black and subtract from the mask.

Invert Mask. Inverts any mask that you’ve created so that its opacity and transparency values are reversed.

Copy Mask. Copies the current mask to the clipboard. To use this, create a new layer and paste it into the new layer.

Paste Mask. Pastes the current mask stored on the clipboard to another layer. Paint on the mask to add or subtract (more on those tools later in this chapter).

Watch a Luminar video.

Luminosity Masks.

A Luminosity Mask is a fast and easy way to create a new mask based on the brightness of image pixels. When selected the command will fill the active layer with a mask based on the brightness of image pixels. The transparency for the layer is directly related to the brightness of the pixels.

This command works very well to mask an overlaid image such as a cloud layer. You can also mask a copy of a layer to enhance only part of an image. For example, if the sky and clouds are bright, you can create an exact mask only for that area of the image and then enhance them.

Here's how to create a Luminosity Mask:

  • Open a photo within Luminar.
  • In the Layers controls click the + button and choose the Add New Image Layer option.
  • For the desired layer, right-mouse click on layer’s name to reveal the context sensitive menu for the Layer.
  • Choose Mask > Create Luminosity Mask from the menu to make the Luminosity Mask.
  • If the mask is showing unwanted areas, you can right-mouse click on layer’s name and choose Invert Mask.
  • You can also re-run the Create Luminosity Mask multiple times to generate different masks each time.

Painting and Erasing Masks.

Once you’ve added a mask, its important that you learn to control it. One of the easiest ways to do this is with the Masking Brush tool. This makes it possible to paint directly on a layer to create a mask. Similarly, it is possible to paint on a filter layer.

Here’s how to use the Masking Brush tool.

  • Create a Layer or Filter mask as previously discussed in this chapter. 
  • Just right-click on the Layer or Filter and choose the appropriate option from the Mask sub menu item.
  • Select the Masking Brush tool by clicking its icon or pressing the B key.
  • Use the toolbar at the top of the window to control the behavior of the Masking Brush tool. You can start in the middle of the toolbar and create the mask

Drawing Mode Brush. By default the gold circle is filled in. This indicates that you’re painting with white and adding to the mask.

Erasing Mode Brush. Clicking on the hollow circle next to the Brush label will switch to the Erase mode. Therefore, when you paint on the layer mask, it will have the effect of erasing the mask. This is handy for “trimming” overspray of the mask and making your selection more accurate. To quickly switch between masking and erasing modes, use the shortcut key X.

Click the Brush drop-down menu to control the shape and dynamics of the brush.

Size. Controls the diameter of the brush. You can also use the keyboard shortcuts [ and ] to make the brush smaller or larger. Softness. Controls how much blending there is between the center of the brush and its edges. This can create a more gradual blend on any mask. You can also use the keyboard shortcuts of Shift + [ or ] to make the brush harder or softer. Opacity. This controls the overall opacity in the brush. A brush at 100% has full impact. A brush set to 50% will only add or subtract half of its strength.

Brush Presets. 

In the center of the grid there are various presets for quick selection. If you have a pen tablet attached, you can also configure Pen Pressure, Radius and Opacity levels. This allows you to draw on the tablet and have the force applied to the pen transfer to the size and density of the brush.

Click and paint on the canvas to modify the selected mask (layer or filter).If you need to refine a brush in the future, you can click the Brush drop-down menu or use the exposed controls for Size, Softness, and Opacity in the top toolbar.

To better see the Mask, click the eyeball icon on the toolbar. This shows the mask as a red overlay. To refine the mask even more, click the Gear icon to adjust the Density and Feathering for the mask. This can control how the mask applies and help better blend its results into the image.

If you choose to remove a mask, just click the Trash can icon in the toolbar to remove it.

Gradient Mask.

The Gradient Mask Tool is useful for creating a gradual blend between two states. It can be used with an image layer to add ramping transparency. For a filter, it’s useful to create a blend between the modified and original state. 

The Gradient Mask is a favorite tool of landscape photographers that allows you to enhance images very smoothly with effects only applied to the Gradient.

Here’s how to use the Gradient Mask tool.

  • Create a Layer or Filter mask as previously discussed in this chapter. 
  • Right-click on the Layer or Filter and choose the appropriate option from the Mask sub-menu item.
  • Select the Gradient Masking tool by clicking its icon or pressing the G key.
  • Click and drag to create a gradient. 

You can change the mode of the mask if you need to change how a mask is applied. Paint mode icon. Clicking on the icon that shows two overlapping, filled squares will ensure that any effects are applied to mask. Erase mode icon. Clicking on the icon that shows a transparent square on top of a filled square will erase the effect on the mask.

When satisfied with the mask, click the Apply button. To exit without applying the mask, just click Cancel. To further refine the mask, click the Mask Brush icon and use the options in the top toolbar to view the mask or to adjust its density and feathering.

Check out a Luminar video.

Radial Mask.

The use of a Radial Gradient Mask is a quick, easy way to highlight the sun, a face or anything else on your photo. You can create an ellipse or circular shape that makes its easy to create a gradual blend between two states. It can be used with an image layer to add ramping transparency. For a filter, it’s useful to create a blend between the modified and original state. 

Here’s how to use the Radial Mask tool.

  • Create a Layer or Filter mask as previously discussed in this chapter. 
  • Just right-click on the Layer or Filter and choose the appropriate option from the Mask submenu item.
  • Select the Radial Masking tool by clicking its icon or pressing the R key.
  • Click and drag to create a circular gradient.

Click the Show button in the top toolbar to make it easier to visualize the gradient.The tool offers simple controls to refine the gradient.

  • Drag the middle of the gradient (the dot) to place its center.
  • Drag the inside circle’s radius to affect the size of the gradient.
  • Drag the outside circle’s radius to affect the feathering of the gradient.
  • Drag a handle on the outside circle to adjust the aspect ratio to create an ellipse shape.
  • Drag outside the outer circle to rotate the gradient mask.

You can change the mode of the mask if you need to change how a mask is applied by clicking the Invert button. When satisfied with the mask, click the Apply button. To exit without applying the mask, just click Cancel. To further refine the mask, click the Mask Brush icon and use the options in the top toolbar to view the mask or to adjust its density and feathering.

Watch a Luminar video.

Download the full Luminar User Guide in PDF Format

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