Doing portrait editing does not have to be complicated or need to take years to master in Photoshop. Portrait editing with Luminar Neo is simple and easy if you follow my six steps below.
Here are the before and after images.
Six-step portrait editing with Luminar Neo
These are the steps and tools that I use in my portrait editing workflow with Luminar Neo.
Note: If you use Lightroom as your main editor (like I do), then you can do the first step using the Basic panel in LR. Then just open it from there into Luminar Neo as a plugin to do the rest. You can also do step #6 with Lightroom as well if you prefer.
- Apply Develop Raw First
- Apply all the Portrait tools next
- Skin AI
- Face AI
- Body AI
- Portrait Bokeh AI
- Use the Color tool
- Add an edge vignette to draw the eye in toward the subject
BONUS – I’ll show you another little trick at the end for making a super custom vignette
- Use the Glow tool to add the Orton Effect
- Use the Clone and/or Erase tools as needed
Watch the full video tutorial below to see all the steps applied. Then scroll down below the video to see the image after each step has been applied.
Even though the video is over 25 minutes, you can do this full edit much faster than that. I usually spend less than 5 minutes or so doing the editing in Luminar Neo.
It will go even faster if you save a preset or two of some or all of the steps and apply that first. Then you just need to go through each tool in reverse order and tweak the settings for that image.
Step-by-step Portrait editing with Luminar Neo
Let’s take a look at the image and how it looks after each step or two have been applied. Once again, for reference, here is the before image.
Step #1 – Develop Raw
As shown in the video apply basic adjustments using the Develop Raw tool (or Lightroom if that’s your main editor). Set the White and Black points, adjust the contrast, and set the white balance.
You’ll notice that their faces are really dark and I left it that way on purpose. You’ll see why in a couple of steps. I set the overall image brightness for the background.
Step #2 – Portrait tools
The entire set of portrait tools in Luminar Neo do such a fantastic job it’s all I use now for doing skin smoothing and things like eye enhancements. Things that used to require Photoshop and a lot more time and editing prowess, are not a breeze.
As mentioned above, I left their faces a bit dark after step one. So the first portrait tool I applied was Face AI, using the Face Light slider to do just that! The same tool also lightens dark circles under the eyes, brightens the iris (you can even change the eye color), darkens lips and eyebrows, and can even enlarge eyes (great for squinty people).
Then the Skin AI tool was used to smooth the skin a bit and reduce shine. Body AI applied a slight slimming to the man, and Portrait Bokeh AI added a nice blur to the background and darkened it a bit more.
Step #3 – Color tool
Next, I applied the Color tool not just once, but twice. Using a mask each time, I applied it once to enhance the colors of their skin tone and clothing and a second time to affect the background.
Step #4 – Vignette
I recommend doing this on almost every image you edit regardless of what software you’re using. In Lightroom, you can use the Post Crop Vignette tool or apply a Radial Gradient if you need to place it off-center.
Generally, I will add a dark-edge vignette. But that’s not a hard and fast rule. If you are working on a high-key or light-toned image, you might want to use a light vignette.
The key take away here is to make sure it helps the viewer see the subject more clearly, and make sure the vignette isn’t overdone or obvious.
Step #5 – Glow tool
Back in the days when I shot film, I used a filter on my lens to soften portraits. Now I do the same thing using digital tools.
The issue is that cameras are so sharp and so detailed, but it’s not flattering to most humans. It will show every single bump, imperfection, and pore in the skin and enhance wrinkles making them look deeper.
So I use the Glow tool in Luminar Neo to add the softening. You can use any of the options but I tend to like the Orton Effect for people. Try them all and adjust the sliders as needed to tweak the brightness and contrast.
Step #6 – Erase and clone as needed
For this step I used the Erase tool to remove the sports logo on his shirt and the Clone tool to lighten some spots on his forehead and under both of their eyes a little bit more.
I use these tool as a last resort and I tried to minimize bright spots and lighten dark areas other ways first. But stuff like the logo, trash, etc., has to be erased or cloned out.
Bonus Step #7 – Mood
As a finishing touch you can choose to use the Mood tool to add a color grading or LUT (Look Up Table) to your image. I do so in this case to shift the colors a bit more.
Finally, look at the image objectively. Is it overall too dark or too light?
Are the faces too dark or too light? Is my eye drawn away from them to any bright spots?
After doing so I decided that their faces were a bit too dark so I applied Face AI and the Face Light slider again. Then I used Develop to bring the highlights a bit and masked it only to his hair, which was clipping a tiny bit on the histogram.
Lastly, I used the Dodge and Burn tool to darken some of the leaves in the background.
Let’s look at the before and after side-by-side. Can you see how much more they stand out now and how much more vibrant the colors are in the background? But yet, at the time time the background being more blurred is also less intrusive?
So, do you think you can do this? I think you can!
Make note of how little actual brush work and masking I had to do on this edit (I did a mask on the Body AI tool and the color tool, and used the Dodge and Burn brush).
If you use Lightroom and want to implement Luminar Neo as a plugin, watch the following video. I used Luminar AI to demonstrate but the workflow from Lightroom >> Photoshop >> Luminar is exactly the same as with Neo.
Luminar Neo discount code
Use this coupon code to get an extra discount if you buy Luminar Neo and opt to get an annual plan: DPM-NEO.
*I recommend getting the Pro plan which means you also get all the new extensions as well.
To learn more about the extensions for Luminar Neo CLICK HERE.
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