This week I discovered that Macphun’s Luminar software has a free Beta release for us PC Windows 10 users to try out. (Click here to get the Beta download – they will quickly send you an E-mail to unlock the program once you submit a request.) You Mac people have been enjoying this stand-alone and plug-in for PS and LR for a while now, but this is great news for us PC folks. I just put it on my computer a couple days ago and am really enjoying it. Lots of new things to explore! It is only available for Windows as a stand-alone version right now, but a lot of the Mac functionality has been added to get some interesting results. I am finding this program very useful for getting a “pop” out of an image, and the canned presets are a great place to start.
My ocean image above was my first attempt at using this plug-in – and yes, the original painting was done in PS and Corel Painter and it was also finished up in PS. But the really beautiful overall effect (that pop I was looking for) was created in Luminar. It is fun to just try out the over 50 custom presets on an image, and there are also 30 individual filter effects with all kinds of sliders. This gives you quite a few options for getting some very different effects and pretty quickly. A lot of the filters were designed to emulate several of the now old Nik Color Efex Pro4 filters. Google is no longer updating their Nik plug-ins which means as operating systems and software get upgraded, they may no longer work – currently I am not having any problems with them. Many of the past Nik software engineers now work at Macphun. In fact if you are a member of KelbyOne, Scott Kelby’s training videos called How to Use Macphun’s Luminar Plugin for Lightroom and Photoshop help you set up some of the favorite Nik filters in Luminar.
As you can see in the screenshot (click to see larger in Flickr), the filters applied for this image are in the right panel and the presets are in the film strip below – the preset highlighted is one I created containing the right side filter settings. And notice the Dramatic filter (the cut-off last two settings were Brightness 3 and Saturation -25) which is very similar to the Bleach Bypass filter in Color Efex Pro4 for example.
The biggest drawback is that it is only a stand-alone program for Windows. Here is the work-around to use the Luminar image as a layer in Photoshop. For a full workflow on how the top image was created, see section below.
- Create a stamped layer on top in PS (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E).
- Duplicate this layer by doing this: Layers -> Duplicate and in the drop-down, select New and create a New Document.
- Save this file as either a PSD or a JPG – both will open as an image in Luminar.
- Open Luminar and do your changes – then Export as a JPG by clicking on the little box with the arrow going up (2nd icon over on top).
- Now add this JPG file into the original Photoshop file. I like to use the Bridge (File -> Open -> Place -> In Photoshop or right click and choose Place) to do this and it adds it right into the original file. From Photoshop go to File -> Place Embedded or can just open the Luminar JPG file in PS and drag over as a layer or go to Layers -> Duplicate and in the drop-down select the original file. Once combined, a Layer Mask, Blend Modes and Opacity can be added or changed on the layer.
I know this is a bit of a bother, but until the Windows version is released, which is scheduled for the end of November, this is what needs to be done. There are also several items missing in this version that can be frustrating – but remember this is just a Beta version. One of the big issues for me is that the individual filters cannot be turned on and off to see the resulting effect – must go into the history icon (8th icon on top) and click back and forth to see the change it created – or each filter can be put on different Luminar layers so the whole layer can be turned on and off. For each Luminar layer several filters can be added to it without creating a new layer. Also, blend modes are missing for use with their filters and layers, which makes the Texture Overlay filter very hard to use right now. The image can only be exported as a JPG which is okay if you are just going to take it into PS to do more adjusting. The Mac version allows importing and exporting from Lightroom as a PSD file and as a layer in PS. There are several tools that will be added with the release including the Eraser, Denoise, Transform, Clone and Stamp, and Radial Gradient. Also Mask Feather, Mask Density, and Luminosity Masks will be added. Masks can be applied to both the individual filters and each layer if the Brush Tool is selected – I found this was a little tricky to do.
Ocean Image Example Workflow
The above image was created using one of my Corel Painter backgrounds (that did not look near this dramatic), Graphic Fairy’s Vintage Blue Boats Picture, and a brush called Tsaoshin Full Brushes Set – lightning brush 200. One of my vertical light leaks was added on the right side of the image and set to 52% opacity. (I created 5 different sizes and colors that I use all the time – can use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer clipped to the leak layer to change the color and Free Transform (CTLR+T) to line up in image. See my How to Create Light Leaks to Use Over Again blog.) At this point a composite layer was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and taken into Luminar where the Sharp and Crisp Luminar preset was initially selected – it contained the Dramatic, Details Enhancer, Advanced Contrast and Sharpening filters all on Layer 0 and can be individually adjusted to your image. On a second layer the Accent AI Enhancer filter was added which contains a Boost slider – this is one of the newest and possibly best filters added in both Mac and Windows versions of the software. The Boost slider is their “Artificial Intelligence” slider and works wonders on almost any image! If it is too much in certain areas, the Gradient Tool or a Brush can be used on a mask to remove the effect. Now saved the image as a JPG. Back in the original PS, this JPG was placed back into the original using Adobe Bridge. In PS just a little clean up and masking was done where the sails looked a little too crisp. Last step, Matt K’s vignette was created and set to Multiply at 15% layer opacity. (See my How to Create a Subtle Vignette blog for how to do this.)For the Edinburgh Street image above, no preset was selected, but just started adding effects until I found some I liked – the Dramatic and Adjustable Gradient filters were selected. Bottom line is that the program is a little quirky still – I got it to crash once and when using the brush in the layer masks, got some really weird artifacts so expect this. But overall it is a lot of fun to try out and see what Macphun has created. Hope you get a change to load the software and see what you think. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd