Luminar NEO: How to use the Develop Tool

luminar neo Jun 01, 2023
Luminar NEO Develop Tool

The Develop tool in Luminar NEO is a feature that allows photographers to make precise adjustments to various aspects of their photos. It serves as a digital darkroom where users can optimize exposure, color, tone, and other essential elements to achieve their desired look and feel. Find out all about the Luminar NEO Develop tool in this article.

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In this article:

  • What is the Develop Tool
  • Introducing the Develop Tool sliders
  • Getting started with the Develop Tool
  • Video tutorial
  • Luminar NEO



What is the Develop Tool

Luminar NEO is a powerful photo editing software that offers photographers a range of tools, including the Develop tool. This tool allows users to make precise adjustments to exposure, color, tone, and other elements of their photos. It provides features like exposure correction, color adjustments, noise reduction, lens correction, and perspective correction. With non-destructive editing capabilities, photographers can experiment and refine their edits without altering their original image files. The Develop tool in Luminar NEO is an essential component for enhancing and transforming images with precision and creativity.



Introducing the Develop Tool sliders




This slider adjusts the global luminance of the image. Moving it to the left results in a darker image (reduced exposure value). Moving it to the right results in a brighter image (increased exposure value).

Smart Contrast

This slider adjusts the contrast of the image. Contrast refers to differences in luminance or color that allow you to distinguish objects in an image from one another. Practically speaking, contrast is determined by the difference in the color and brightness of an object relative to other objects within the same field of view. This slider’s innovative capabilities limit color shift and prevent details from becoming blocked up.


This slider adjusts the brightness of the brightest areas of the image. Moving it to the right causes bright areas to become brighter, while moving it to the left makes them darker.


This slider adjusts the brightness of the darkest areas of the image. Moving it to the right causes the darkest areas to become brighter, revealing additional details. Moving it to the left makes such areas darker.


Blacks & Whites


This slider adjusts the white point of the histogram and white tones in the image. When you move it to the right, the brightest tones become brighter while the histogram compresses to the right. Moving it to the left causes the white tones in the image to become darker as the histogram compresses to the left.


This slider sets the histogram’s black point and adjusts the image’s black tones. Moving it to the right makes the black tones brighter as the histogram compresses to the right. Moving it to the left makes the black tones darker as the histogram compresses to the left.



This is one of the most powerful tools for adjusting your image’s tone. It allows you to brighten, darken, add contrast, and shift colors. Curves can be applied to all color channels together or to each color channel individually and can help you manually fine-tune the brightness and contrast of an image.

- Color selectors

You can use the white, red, green, and blue color selectors to make curve adjustments to all channels equally or to an individual channel (such as blue to emphasize the sky).

- Control points

You can add up to 10 control points. Drag up to add contrast to an area and drag down to lighten the area. Multiple control points can be employed for contrast adjustments based on tonal range.



White Balance

This slider warms or cools an image by adding Cyan or Yellow to change its color temperature.


This slider adjusts the amount of green or magenta and is useful for removing color casts from an image.


This slider adjusts the intensity of all colors in your photo.


This slider adjusts only the intensity of muted colors, ignoring well-saturated colors. It’s helpful in achieving fine control when adjusting color.




The Sharpen tool helps focus soft edges in a photo to increase the clarity of focus. Use this tool to improve image quality significantly. Keep in mind that too much sharpening can give your photo a grainy look.


This slider allows you to adjust the distance from contrast edges at which the sharpening effect is applied.


This slider controls the zone in which details are amplified. Moving it to the left increases the size of the zone and makes the image more detailed. Moving it to the right reduces the size of the zone of sharpened zones. 

Noise Reduction

Upon close inspection, you may notice unwanted and distracting noise or grain in your image. This is typically caused by shooting photos with a high ISO setting on a digital camera, but it can also be caused by underexposure or a long shutter speed. An entry-level consumer camera is more likely to exhibit noise problems than a professional camera. Fortunately, Luminar Neo offers an easy tool to reduce or remove unwanted noise.

Luminosity Denoise

This slider removes grayscale noise from an image.

Color Denoise

This slider removes color noise from an image.


This slider increases the aggressiveness of the Denoise tool.


Optics Auto Corrections

This tool is helpful in enhancing your image and removing lens imperfections. Its sliders are designed to remove flaws in the image caused by the lens or camera handling. The exact controls you’ll see vary between standard and raw files.

Auto Distortion Corrections (RAW only)

Click this option to automatically correct lens distortion. This tool analyzes your image and its metadata to calculate an automatic fix. Get rid of wide-angle distortion and get truer perspective lines and more attractive portraits.

Auto Fix Chromatic Aberrations (RAW only)

Chromatic aberration is a type of color fringing. It often happens with telephoto lenses and in areas of high contrast. Chromatic aberrations tend to show up as magenta or green edges around objects.

Auto Defringe

This adjustment can remove halos and edge noise (particularly in high-contrast areas)..


Optics Manual Corrections

Lens Distortion

Drag this slider to the left to widen the barrel shape of the lens. Drag it to the right to pinch the barrel shape and compensate for lenses with wider angles.


This slider removes any darkening at the edges of an image caused by the lens itself. This is a corrective tool, not a stylizing tool. If you want an artistic vignette, be sure to explore the Vignette tool.

Devignette Midpoint

This slider refines which areas are brightened or darkened by the Devignette slider.



Automatic Vertical Alignement

This button will try to automatically align your image vertically. This is often handy in cityscape or architecture photography.


Tilts the image vertically to correct for vertical distortion, which, for instance, can occur when a tall building is photographed at street level.


Tilts the image horizontally to create straight lines and correct for horizontal distortion, which, for instance, can occur when an object is photographed off to the side.


Moving the Aspect slider to the right corrects for horizontal aspect distortion. Moving it to the left corrects for vertical aspect distortion. The Aspect slider can work in tandem with the Vertical and Horizontal sliders. For example, making a correction with the Horizontal slider may distort the aspect of a subject. To correct this, you can move the Aspect slider until the subject looks natural.


Getting started with the Develop Tool

To adjust the color and tone of an image, the Develop/Develop RAW tool is the go-to option. This tool sets the stage for all further adjustments, and its RAW indicator only shows up when an unedited raw file is opened for editing. As the first tool in the Edits panel, all RAW images automatically apply this tool. Even if a different tool is applied first, the DevelopRAW tool will still be applied without any settings, but they can be adjusted at any time.

Develop Tool: 

  • Open the image in Luminar NEO by using the Add Photos button in the Catalog module (L)
  • Move to Edit module (E)
  • Then, navigate to Develop tool in the Essentials section of the editing toolbar (right side)
  • Start by checking the Optics tab and adjusting Lens Distortions.
  • Move to the Transform bar and use the available sliders and buttons to straighten your image.
  • Take care of the sharpness and noise by using the Noise Reduction and Sharpness tab.
  • Move to the Light, Blacks and Whites, Curves and Color tabs to adjust the exposure, tone and color of your image.
  • After this, continue editing with the other tools available in the application.



Develop Tool video tutorial

Watch the full video tutorial covering all sliders in this tool.




Luminar NEO

Luminar Neo is the latest editing software from Skylum. It was announced back in September 2021, and it's been highly anticipated since.

Luminar Neo is an AI-powered photo editing software. Skylum has said that Neo isn’t replacing their previous release—Luminar AI. But Neo sets out to fix some of the issues users faced with Luminar AI.

We were impressed with the AI tools in Luminar AI. But like many others, we encountered performance issues. Luminar Neo uses the same AI tools, but the new high-speed core engine improves speed and performance.

Luminar Neo isn’t just more of the same. We’re happy to see Skylum has taken Neo in a different direction, adding layer and mask AI tools to the program. This broadens Neo’s appeal, taking it in an Adobe Photoshop direction.

Learn more about Luminar NEO here.

Use one of our discount codes: CPNEO10 will give you a 10% discount - CP10 will give you a $10 discount.


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