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Luminosity masking: part one (further information)

An introduction to the ‘Luminosity masking: part one’ tutorial

This is the first of a two part series of tutorials on luminosity masking, a powerful technique that you can use to selectively enhance your images. Unlike conventional masking techniques, which often require you to manually create a specific selection to mask an area of an image (and then feather, or otherwise alter the mask to blend the change with the remainder of the image), luminosity masking creates selections and masks that based solely on the brightness of the pixels themselves. As such, masks created using this technique often blend seamlessly with one another and the unchanged areas of the image, obviating the need to predetermine the selection area, or repair/refine the mask subsequent to its use.

Both parts were co-written with Tony Kuyper, a recognised authority in this field.

The specific topics covered include:

  • An introduction to luminosity masking
  • Creating the initial luminosity mask
  • Creating additional luminosity masks: refining the Lights mask
  • Creating luminosity masks for the darker areas of an image
  • Creating luminosity masks for the mid-tones
  • Alternative ways to create the mid-tone masks
  • Three example images (see below)

This tutorial contains 9695 words, 65 illustrative images and screen grabs, and has received 15 comments.

Photoshop files included with this tutorial

Each of our tutorials is based around a series of Photoshop files, at the resolution originally posted on chromasia, and each contains all the original adjustment layers I used to create the final image. The ones that are included in this tutorial, and a brief description of how each one will be used, are listed below – the ‘before’ version on the left, the ‘after’ version on the right. Each of these files can be downloaded after you subscribe.

How to get from this … to this
Image 1
In this example we will take a look at how to combine a variety of luminosity masks to selectively alter different areas of tonal range within an image.
Image 2
In this example we will discuss how to create a luminosity mask to target a specific tonal range.
Image 3
In this final example we will again consider how to combine a variety of luminosity masks to selectively alter different areas of tonal range within an image, but will also take a detailed look at how these methods compare to manual masking techniques.
What our subscribers have said about this tutorial

"Another outstanding tutorial David filled with the most detailed information and is definitely one to keep returning to. I will definitely be using these techniques in the future... Had a look at Tony's site and the images are breathtaking. Thanks for sharing this with us :-)"


"Great tutorial! This one was especially good because it really did cover some new ground. It does look difficult in theory, but I imagine as I start playing around with different combinations of luminosity masks on my own pics it will just start being intuitive. Thanks again for a great tutorial!"


"David, like the other comments before mine, this is a tutorial and a half alright, packed full of useful information. As you said in your round-up and Tony's opening remarks, the concept can be difficult to understand at the beginning, but the Luminosity Masks seem to me like the perfect solution for those images that need miltiple masks and curves, with the inevitable problems with accuracy and feathering. A very inetersting read indeed. Thanks"


"Wow this another great tutorial explained clearly with great examples. Thanks from central florida!"


Content overview (the rollover graphics and embedded videos are not illustrated)
page 1 page 2 page 3 page 4 page 5 page 6
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HomeOnline tutorials15 comments 
Luminosity masking: part one (further information)