Luminar NEO: How to use the Portrait Bokeh AI Tool

luminar neo Oct 14, 2022
Luminar NEO Portrait Bokeh AI

Luminar NEO's Portrait editing panel includes the popular Portrait Bokeh AI tool to simulate the bokeh effect and allow it to be used on most portrait photos. A great benefit of this tool is that it can be used on any portrait image regardless of the lens used or the lighting conditions. 

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In this article:

  • What is Portrait Bokeh AI
  • Introducing Portrait Bokeh AI sliders
  • Getting started with Portrait Bokeh AI
  • Video tutorial
  • Luminar NEO



What is Portrait Bokeh AI

When capturing photos, it is often desirable to place the area behind a subject out of focus. The Japanese word bokeh is used to describe the aesthetic nature of the blur that is produced in these out-of-focus areas. Traditionally, to achieve this effect, it often takes a high-quality lens and involves shooting at a wide-open aperture like ƒ2.0.
To simulate this effect and allow it to be used on most portrait photos LuminarAI offers the Portrait BokehAI Tool. It works on just about any portrait image – regardless of the lens used or the lighting conditions.



Introducing the Portrait Bokeh AI sliders



When you adjust this slider, artificial intelligence recognizes people in the frame, including those in groups or unusual positions, and creates an initial mask that separates them from the background. Then, by moving this slider, you adjust the amount of blur in the background.



Brush Control

In most cases, the initial mask created by the Amount slider is ready to use. If you want to refine the initial mask, use these controls. This can be useful to refine complex masks, for example, adding an object held in your portrait subject’s hands.

These brushes refine the mask:


Used to define the active area of the mask. The parts of the image that are selected will remain in focus.


Used to identify areas as the background and to remove focus in this area.


Painting with this brush reverts back to the original automatically generated mask in the areas where a stroke is applied. It is useful if you want to restore an area to the default selection that was originally created.

TIP: To easily see your mask when painting, it will become visible as you brush. If you’d like the mask visibility to stay active, just press the / (forward slash) key to view the mask. The rubylith (red) areas are set to be in Focus. The clear areas are able to be blurred and represent the Defocus area.


These controls refine the brush you use to refine your mask:


Adjusts the size of your brush.


Adjusts the softness of the effect by feathering the edges of the brush.


Sets the opacity of the brush.

TIP: You can use these handy keyboard shortcuts to make painting your mask even easier:

[ Decrease the brush radius

] Increase the brush radius

Shift + [ Decrease the brush softness

Shift + ] Increase the brush softness

X Toggle between Focus and Defocus mode when editing



The Background controls help you refine the quality of the bokeh or background blur. These are essential controls to be adjusted to match your personal taste.


Controls the overall exposure of the background. You can lighten or darken the background to further offset your subject.

Highlights Glow

Adjusts the brightness of the brightest areas of the background, adding a soft glow.

Depth Correction

Controls where the out-of-focus area begins in a photo. Moving this slider to the left sets it closer to the camera, and to the right moves it further away. As a result, the bokeh effect appears stronger or weaker.

Edge Correction

Used to expand or contract the soft edges of the mask; useful for adjusting the fine details in a mask, like hair.


Getting started with Portrait Bokeh AI

The Portrait Bokeh AI is a great tool that helps you easily create a lovely bokeh effect on your portrait photos. You can control the mask, the blur, and the overall look of the effect with a few simple sliders and create trendy-looking results. It is important to mention that the Portrait Bokeh AI tool works only with Portrait images of humans.

Portrait Bokeh AI: 

  1. Open the portrait image in Luminar NEO using the Add Photos button (Cmd/Ctrl + O) in the Catalog module (L).
  2. Move to the Edit module (E).
  3. Open the Portrait Bokeh AI tool in the Portrait section of the main toolbar. 
  4. Start by increasing the Amount slider, which will activate the Brush Control and Background adjustments. 
  5. Use the brush control to adjust the bokeh mask if necessary. 
  6. Finish the look with a number of additional adjustments in the Background section of the tool. 



Portrait Bokeh AI 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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