In this article and video tutorial, you’ll learn how to edit images using both Lightroom and Luminar AI. You’ll see why I recommend using both and how to use them together.
You’ll learn how to use Luminar AI as a plugin (two methods) and see what it can do to enhance and perfect your images.
Why I use both Lightroom and Luminar AI in my workflow
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I only ever recommend and teach what I use myself. So the photo editing workflow I outline in the video below is exactly how I process my own images to the final stage.
Step #1 – Basic edits in Lightroom
Lightroom is my base catalog and I import all my images into it so I can sort, tag, flag, rename, and so on. I also do my culling and basic editing inside Lightroom. What I consider basic editing includes the following adjustments made globally (to the entire image):
- Color corrections like white balance and saturation level
- Exposure or brightness level corrections or tweaks
- Contrast of the image overall
To learn how to choose the best images faster and how to prepare your images to the preview quality level (ready to show your subjects or models) CLICK HERE or on the image below.
Step #2 – Final edits in Luminar AI and Photoshop
Once my model has chosen the images they want, then I move into the final editing stage where I work on each image on an individual basis. That’s when I do things like the following:
- Facial and skin retouching
- Removal of distracting objects in the background or on the edge of the image
- Special effects like toning, converting to B&W, adding a mysterious or soft glow, sky replacement and enhancement, etc.
- Combining two images together (for group photos as an example)
Lightroom is only capable of doing some of those things and in the case of facial and skin retouching, there are much better and faster ways of doing it. So this is where Luminar AI comes into play (and in some cases, Photoshop, as you’ll see in the video).
Lightroom > Luminar AI workflow – two methods
The best way for me to explain my full workflow is to show you.
Watch the video below now and you’ll learn how to use Luminar AI as a plugin for Lightroom, the two different methods to open Luminar (or any plugin), and when and why to use each.
Here is a quick summary of the two ways of opening Luminar AI as a plugin for Lightroom.
Learn how to use Lightroom Classic in my Lightroom for Photographers: The Complete Course. Even seasoned Lightroom users report that they’ve learned a ton of things there weren’t aware of. Check it out here.
Method #1 – open directly into Luminar AI
Right-click on the image you want to use and choose Edit in > Luminar AI from the list. That will take you directly to Luminar AI.
The pro of this method is there is one less step and you can do your Luminar AI edits quickly, save, apply and head back to Lightroom with the new image.
The disadvantage or con is that the edits are applied and are baked-in and you cannot get back to alter any of the settings or continue from where you left off. It is final.
Method #2 – open as a Smart Object in Photoshop then apply Luminar AI as a filter
This method adds an interim step between Lightroom and Luminar AI, that is Photoshop. You start off the same by right-clicking the image. But then you choose Open as Smart Object in PS.
Once you’re inside Photoshop you can then do any advanced editing you want including opening Luminar AI as a filter. Make your edits, apply the Luminar AI edits, save in Photoshop and you’re right back to Lightroom again with a new image.
The advantage of this method is that it’s completely editable later. You can open the PSD (Photoshop Document) from Lightroom and you’ll see Luminar AI applied as a filter. From there you can get back to Luminar and all the changes you made there, tools applied, are all editable.
NOTE: If you use this method and want to open the PSD and continue from where you left off last time, make sure you follow the path shown below this time! This is described and shown in the video as well.
The disadvantage is that it takes more time to open Photoshop and add the extra step. Your computer may also have trouble running all three photo applications at the same time.
When to choose each method
I personally use both methods to launch Luminar AI as a plugin.
When I just need to do one thing, a quick edit that I know I won’t need to alter later such as adding the Orton Effect, I use method #1 above.
If I have any other advanced editing that I need to use Photoshop to do such as a head swap, major cloning or object removal (FYI Luminar AI’s Erase tool does a great job of that too), or using the Liquify filter then I use method #2.
Luminar AI and Luminar Neo
I want to mention that this video was made at a time when Luminar Neo has been announced but hasn’t been shipped yet. So I am currently using Luminar AI in my workflow.
Once I have Luminar Neo, I will most likely be swapping them out and proceeding with Luminar Neo. CLICK HERE or on the logo below to pre-order or learn more about Luminar Neo.
There are two other videos all about Luminar Neo where I answered a lot of the FAQs and demonstrated three of the new tools. You can watch both videos here:
Update: I’ve now gotten access to the initial build so check out my review of the first few tools in Luminar Neo. The page will be updated with a full review when the public version is available. If you’re reading this and already own it, you can fast track your skills with it using my Luminar Neo Course.
Now I’m curious to hear from you. What is your workflow?
Please tell me in the comment area below:
- What is your main editing software and why?
- Do you use any plugins?
- If so, which ones?
- Is there any part of the process you are struggling with or that isn’t working for you?
Was it helpful for you to see my full workflow from beginning to end? I hope you picked up a few tips you can use in yours.