Luminar NEO: How to use the High Key Tool

luminar neo Mar 15, 2023
Luminar NEO High Key Tool

High-Key photography is a style of photography that uses unusually bright lighting to reduce or completely blow out the image's dark shadows. To help you to enhance or recreate this effect, Luminar NEO offers the High-Key Tool with a number of creative adjustments and sliders.

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In this article:

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



What is the High Key Tool

The High Key tool emulates the look achieved by high key lighting, where the main light source slightly overexposes the subject. This technique produces bright, high-contrast images and is often used in fashion and beauty photography.



Introducing the High Key Tool sliders


Standard Settings


This slider allows you to set the intensity of the High Key effect.

Standard High Key

This slider affects the image globally.

Dynamic High Key

This slider is more limited in its effect, taking skin tones into account as it applies the High Key effect to the image.


Use this slider to maintain contrast in the darkest areas of your image.


Advanced Settings


This slider controls the behavior of the brighter areas of the photo.


This slider affects the overall contrast in the image (the relative difference between the lightest and darkest areas).


This slider determines if the overall image becomes washed out or stays richly saturated.



Getting started with the High Key Tool

The High-Key tool should be used early in the photo-editing workflow as it impacts the white balance, contrast, saturation and glow of the image. When ready, start by increasing the Amounts slider and then controlling the strength of the effect with the Standard and Dynamic High Key sliders. Don't forget that the High Key tool can also be used with masking to apply this effect to specific areas of your image.

TIP 👍: When adding a high amount of high key effect, the skin tones can loose their natural colours. This can be fixed by using the Dehaze slider in the Landscape Tool.

High Key Tool: 

  • Open the image in Luminar NEO using the Add Photos button (Cmd/Ctrl + O) in the Catalog module (L).
  • Move to the Edit module (E).
  • Depending on the image, apply a basic development keeping the saturation and white balance as natural as possible. 
  • Open the High Key Tool and start by increasing the Amount slider to get the initial high key look.
  • Adjust the Standard and Dynamic High Key sliders and find the right balance to get the results you want.
  • Continue using the additional sliders including Blacks, Glow, Contrast and Saturation to fine-tune the result.



High Key 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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