Free luminosity masking basics course/tutorials

Hello, NPN.

I’ve been looking around online and didn’t find free tutorials on luminosity masking. There are mostly small articles and no step-by-step guides, so I wrote one. It’s about getting into masking from scratch, so to say, starting from very basic masks in Photoshop and ending with Dodge&Burn applying luminosity masking.

For me it’s a way to say 'Thanks!" to the community - back in 2014 I learned luminosity masking from tutorials by Jay Patel and Chip Phillips and this was just eye-opening for me. For sure my most important step forward to high quality images. Hope my course will help someone to also make such step.

There are 7 lesson and one bonus episode, you can get them either as emails or read directly on the website.



Thank you. I will definitely check the lesson out, especially now that I have lots of time at home.

Thanks, I’m looking forward to your course.

I thought these were courses to teach you how to create and use luminosity masks in Photoshop.

They are, Igor.
Lesson 2 ( fully focuses on how to manually create regular and luminosity masks in Photoshop.

For the sake of speed, in other lessons I use the panel that helps create luminosity masks much faster, but you don’t have to use it.
Lessons 4-6 focus on practical examples on how to use different luminosity masks and Lessons 7 provides one more practical example. You are welcome to apply shown techniques with manually created luminosity masks.

If Lesson 2 was not detailed enough on how to manually create luminosity masks, I can surely write a more detailed article on the topic.

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You can now read about how to create luminosity masks by hand in this new article. It also shows the most kept secret of manual luminosity masks - how to create them the easy way =)

I would suggest looking at Lumenzia from Greg Benz. He is lots of FREE tutorials for his wonderful Lumenzia plug in. His plug in is free or you can upgrade as I did to the paid panel. Great, helpful tutorials and a great panel.

Greg does great tutorials. And the best thing with any luminosity mask tutorial - you can follow it even without any panel.

As for the luminosity masking panels. If you visit the tutorials, you would notice that another panel used there - ARCPanel. It’s something that I built.

For the 97% of post-processing that I do I find panels like TK, Lumenzia or Raya too complicated. They are indeed very powerful, but to my taste offer too much functionality. Every time I look at those suites of 10 panels or the amount of things I would need to know about using Lumenzia my brains starts melting. There are enough of things in this world that I need to think about, so for my hobby post processing I want something easier to use. Which is why I built ARCPanel to be easy to use and understand.

I would also like to note that Lumenzia isn’t free and it costs more than ARCPanel. Additionally, with ARCPanel you have a completely free 7 days trial to see if you like it before you spend the money. No other panel on the market offers this.

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Since you’re new to NPN and apparently focused on luminosity masks, Anton, you’ll be interested to know that NPN played a major role in the luminosity mask revolution in which you’re an active participant. Luminosity masks became a big thing once the ability to use them to make the Lights, Darks, and Midtones series of masks was described. Up until that point, they weren’t widely used. Those series of masks, which you’re still using in your tutorials, were first described in a tutorial I wrote and linked to on NPN on Nov 13, 2006. Here’s a link to that NPN post which has a link to the original tutorial: At the time I thought they were just my geeky way to develop images, though reaction on NPN made me realize they would probably be bigger than I had expected. Now, nearly 14 years later, you are still using the same series of masks and are on NPN promoting them, apparently with no knowledge of NPN’s history in making them the widely used post-processing technique that they are. It looks like what started on NPN on that evening in November 2013 is still going strong. That makes me happy, and I’m glad that NPN is still around to help photographers find ways to improve their images.


Do you still have that original tutorial saved somewhere Tony? My geeky nature wants to see the start of it all! I for one am extremely grateful for your contributions to the community, this truly was a game changer!

@David_Kingham thanks for asking. There’s a link in that Nov 2006 NPN post to the original tutorial, and I’ve kept that link pretty much intact on my website:

Thanks, Tony. I know the history of luminosity masks and was reading your tutorials back then too =) With my articles I don’t have any intention in making your role in developing the whole pattern any smaller. Your TK panel is de-facto standard among landscape photographers and many people decide to keep using it even when I offer them a more user-friendly and cheaper solution.

Still, what I’ve learned over the last 2,5 years working on my luminosity masking panel - there are many people out there that have big trouble understanding how masks work and how they can be used even now, in 2020. And those people very often are already quite advanced landscape photographers and maybe even won some competitions.

Luminosity masking is a great tool but as with every tool one has to learn how to use it first.

I didn’t have much feedback in English yet on my latest articles, but many Russian friends said that they didn’t know such things could be done with luminosity masks. Here is the link

I for one and am grateful for your contributions Tony. Once I started using your masks it’s been a standard part of my workflow ever since. While I’m no power user like Sean is I find them to be indispensable.