Luminar AI Update 4: What’s new?

By Matic Broz, editor-in-chief of Photutorial covering stock media, Adobe, and design. He founded Photutorial while finishing his PhD in computational biosciences.
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Luminar AI Update 4 Thumbnail

Luminar AI update 4 (also called Luminar AI 1.4) came out on July 27, 2021. It features the long-awaited portrait tool, improved sky (re)placement control, preview of textures, and fixes a couple of bugs.

Needless to say that this update is free for all Luminar AI users. However, if you do not currently own a Luminar AI, you can try it for free with a free trial.

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Here’s everything you’ll learn:

Let’s take a look together.

Up until this point, the Skylum team released three updates for Luminar AI, which was released on December 15, 2020. The fourth update, Luminar AI 1.4, is huge. The update is free for current Luminar AI users. To get it, go to Luminar AI > Help > Check For Updates. But the update notification will likely be waiting for you when you first open Luminar AI.

NEW: Portrait Bokeh AI

Portrait Bokeh AI is a brand new tool that adds bokeh to portrait photos. Since it’s based on artificial intelligence that recognises people in photos, Portrait Bokeh AI won’t work on photos that do not include people. What is more, it recognises people and their poses, adjusting its algorithm to deliver better results.

To use Portrait Bokeh AI, go to the Edit module and scroll down to the Portrait section of the tool.

Bokeh AI in Luminar AI
You can find Portrait Bokeh AI in the Portrait section of Luminar AI tools

When you first open Portrait Bokeh AI for a photo, it will take a couple of seconds to calculate a 3D depth map. It only happens the first time you use it for a photo because Luminar AI saves the 3D depth map once calculated and reuses it every time you need it.

Luminar AI Bokeh panel
Portrait Bokeh AI tool panel

How to use Portrait Bokeh AI?

Portrait Bokeh AI only works for your portrait photos, so don’t bother trying with images that do not contain people. As hinted by the Skylum developers, support for pets (dogs, cats) might be added in the future. But for now, you can only work with people.

Portrait Bokeh AI tool panel consists of 3 parts (subpanels): Amount, Brush Control, and Background.

Luminar AI Portrait Bokeh AI extended panel
Luminar AI Portrait Bokeh AI extended panel.

The Amount slider controls the overall intensity of the effect. Everything you do is regulated with the Amount slider.

Brush Control allows you to fine-tune the selection of a person in your image since the tool doesn’t always get it 100% right. In addition, you can use it to make the edges softer. Focus brush adds areas in focus, while defocus brush removes areas in focus. Restore brush returns the brushed area to its original state, as calculated by the tool.

Finally, the Background subpanel controls how the background, which the Portrait Bokeh AI blurred, behaves. That means you can brighten or darken it, make it warmer (yellow tones) or colder (blue tones), control the depth of field, tweak the edges, and even add some glow to the highlights.

Portrait Bokeh AI Example

For the example, I chose an image that already has a strong bokeh effect in the background. However, I tested Portrait Bokeh AI to evaluate how well it adds bokeh (right) to an existing bokeh (left).

Luminar AI update 4 Bokeh AI example
Before Bokeh AI (left) and after Bokeh AI (right).

Overall, Luminar AI changed the aperture of f/1.8 to f/1.2 or even lower to f/0.95, which is extremely low. Frankly, you wouldn’t be able to take photos with f/0.95 during midday without an ND filter. But Luminar AI makes it possible.

Let’s take a look at another example. Notice how the corn in the background has been smoothly blurred (right) compared to the unblurred (left), nicely mimicking wide aperture.

Luminar AI update 4 Bokeh AI example 2
Before Bokeh AI (left) and after Bokeh AI (right).

Key takeaway: You don’t need an expensive portrait lens to take great portrait photos anymore. Get Luminar AI and use Portrait Bokeh AI.

UPDATED: Precise Control for Sky AI

If you’re a landscape photographer, this is the chapter for you. I’m sure you already know about the renowned Luminar AI tool Sky AI (officially written as SkyAI). But just in case you’re new to this software, let me introduce it.

Sky AI leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to change the sky in your images automatically. An alternative to this Luminar AI tool is manual masking, which takes a lot of time to precisely execute. Moreover, Luminar already comes with a wealth of built-in skies ready to be used. You can also buy more for a modest price of a few dollars.

But talk is cheap; let’s take a look at an example. Swapping the sky in this example took me 5 seconds.

Sky AI Before and After
Before (left) and after (right). I also tweaked Accent AI and Golden Hour.

You might be thinking, “So what, Matic? I can do the same in Photoshop in minutes“. First of all, it takes minutes, if not hours, in Photoshop and similar software. In addition, let me zoom in to that picture and pay attention to the detail on the ridge.

Sky AI Before and After Zoomed in
Zooming into the image reveals the fine detail of Sky AI

Can you see how fine the detail is on these trees? It would take you hours to mask every tree manually.

Update 4 & Sky AI

The updated Sky AI makes precise sky placement a breeze as it allows you to set the horizon manually. Before the update, you could only use sliders to determine the horizon height. So there was a lot of guesswork included.

With Update 4, the Skylum team introduced manual sky placement. To use it, go to the Edit module, choose SkyAI, Sky Orientation subpanel, and click on the Horizon Position button.

Horizon Position button in Sky AI
Horizon Position button in Sky AI

Clicking the button reveals gradient-like control of the sky and horizon. It’s called the Shifting Horizon Control slider. You can freely move it up or down, tilt it left or right, and expand or shrink it. Basically, it substitutes Vertical Position, Horizontal Position, and Horizon Blending sliders.

Here’s what it looks like in action:

Sky AI controls
Sky AI controls allow you to place the sky more precisely

The upgraded controls of Sky AI allow you to fine-tune the horizon position while also making it a lot easier to set. Previously, you had to guess where Sky AI positioned the horizon. All you could do was move a slider to make it move up or down.

In addition, people are now more accurately relit within the images where you replace the sky. You can control it with the Relight Human slider in the Scene Relighting subpanel.

Sky AI relight human
Relight Human now creates more life-like tones.

UPDATED: Textures Now Have Preview

You might not have even known that Luminar AI has a Textures tool because it’s somewhat hidden. But you can easily find it by going to the Edit module, and instead of choosing tools, go to Local Masking by clicking on the brush icon in the top right corner.

Local Masking in Luminar AI
Local Masking icon

With the Local Masking menu open, you’ll see the +Add button in the top right corner. Click it to add either a Basic local edit or a Texture.

Local masking submenu
Local masking submenu

Choosing Texture will automatically open a Texture panel. By clicking the Texture Selection, a dropdown menu will open and display all available textures. The new Luminar AI update brought the preview of each preset, which makes it tremendously easier to choose the right one.

Textures with preview
Textures now have a preview.

When you decide on a texture, you can flip it horizontally or vertically, move it around, scale it up or down, and change the opacity. I love these features as they give you unlimited control over what you want the final result to look like.

If you want even more control, you can change brightness, contrast, saturation, and the hue of the texture. Finally, blending mode allows you to make all kinds of looks with your texture. However, the preset Screen blend works best for my needs, so I rarely deviate from it.

Textures example
I added a heart-shaped texture and some bokeh to this photo.

Use Textures to create sunflares & vintage photos

While Textures are great for artistic pictures, you can also create vintage-looking photos by adding sunburns. Or you can add sun flares which enhance the photo mood. I recommend you add Textures last, though.

I usually start by pushing Enhance AI to around 50. Then, I go to the Portrait tools to add some face-light, remove skin imperfections with Face AI, and improve eyes. Only when I’m happy with the result do I go to the Local Masking tab and click +Add > Textures. I like using Yellow Touch texture in the Sparkles group.

For me, the best tool is Place Texture. It allows me to rotate, scale, and move the texture as I please. Lastly, I add a vignette to counter the bright light source in the opposite corner. Once again, Choose Subject option is invaluable here as it gives precise control of the main subject in your photos.

Textures and bokeh ai
Tools used: Enhance AI, Light, Color, Vignette, Mood, Mystical, Film Grain, Portrait Bokeh AI, Face AI, High Key, and Local Masking – Texture.


Since Skylum released Luminar AI in December of 2021, Luminar has received 4 major updates, each packed with new features and bug fixes. Undoubtedly, the latest update, Luminar AI 1.4., is the largest.

It has brought the long-anticipated Portrait Bokeh AI tool that makes beautiful bokeh accessible to everyone regardless of your camera gear quality. Skies are now a lot more convenient to change because you can precisely control the horizon height, blending, and even angle. Finally, the textures previews are the final quality-of-life update that allows you to see the textures before applying them.

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Make sure you grab your Luminar AI free trial, so you can test everything out and see whether it’s right for you or not.


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