Lucis Tutorial

Welcome to the Lucis Pro 6.0 Tutorial! I hope you find it useful. Perhaps you arrived here from my HDR Tutorial, which you either found intoxicating or toxicating.

First things first, we should clarify the various lines of the Lucis product line, because they can be confusing.

This review is of their flagship product, Lucis Pro 6.0. This is a full robust program that has more functionality than their lesser product, LucisArt 3. Both products are plugins for Photoshop, and they work in a fairly similar way.  I find myself primarily using Lucis Pro 6.0 the more I learn about it.

The nice lady Barbara that started the company will give you an extra 15% off if you use the Lucis coupon code “STUCKINCUSTOMS” at the end of checkout.

To me, the price point is a good thing.  Lucis Pro 6.0 really does some unique things, and because of its high price point, it keeps many people out of the market. If you want your images to pop more than your competitors, then it is certainly a nice way to go.  Another way to look at it is to consider the cost of a good lens which could run you over $1,000, and it would probably not be as flexible as this software!

Like my other tutorial, we’ll get started by showing a few images that have been made with Lucis Pro 6.0:

The Edge of Iceland at Sunset (by Stuck in Customs)

The Gestalt of Coming and Going

This is an Avout (by Stuck in Customs)

I was able to hack the D3X into a flux capacitor to time travel to 1958

1001 Arabian Nights and the Wily Scheherazade

The Old Silo Against the Elements

Alone and Dejected in a Strange Place

A Godly Dance at the Taj

Example 1 – The Train Station

First, we’ll take a look at that train pic from Leipzig, Germany.  Did you notice how the final result looks kinda like an HDR pic?  It’s really amazing how Lucis Pro 6.0 can make an image look like an HDR shot.

I pulled the image into Photoshop.  You can see it below.  It’s an okay photo…  but really there is a lot of black in it, eh?  There wasn’t THAT much black when I was there…  So let’s make it look like it did when I was actually standing there, shall we?

The very first thing I do is Duplicate the layer.  I then use that duplicated layer, which will be on top, to run the Lucis Art filter on.


The next step was going to the Plugins menu and chose Lucis Pro 6.0.

And here is where the rubber hits the road.  It’s also where Scott Kelby missed the boat in his review.

Be sure to click Split Channels.  Uncheck Composite Image.  Then go into each of the three colors beneath and begin “Playin’ with the sliders”.  The more you play with them, the more you will find a balance that looks good.  What you want to do is drag the sliders until your image has some real “pop” for that channel.  It will look a little over-baked, but don’t worry about that yet.

Do this and repeat for the other two channels as well.


After I did all 3, I re-checked Display Composite Image.

If you want to know my settings for this particular image, I used:

  • Red Smooth-5 Enhance-53
  • Green Smooth-1 Enhance-25
  • Blue Smooth-19 Enhance-21

Again, and I can’t stress this enough – every image is different!

There is a slider above it called “Assign Original Image Color”.  I moved that up to 87%.

And then we end up with the image below.  As you can see, it is overdone, but that’s okay.  There is another slider there called “Mix With Original Image.”  I do not use that slider because it is too slow.  I find it much easier in Photoshop to:

1)  Click OK to return to Photoshop with your newly Lucisified layer

2)  Go to the Opacity Slider on top of the layers and adjust the slider down until you get the mix you want.  It is much faster.  Also, if you are a stickler for some things, you can create a Mask and then have some areas more opaque than others.


And then I ended up with this final image:

The Gestalt of Coming and Going

Example 2 – The Sunset on the Iceland Coast

This starts out the same as before.  I brought a file into Photoshop and duplicated the layer.  I then took that top layer and opened up the Lucis plugin beneath.  As before, I:

  • Checked Split Channels
  • Unchecked Display Composite Image
  • Made the Red 1/105 the Green 1/55 and the Blue 1/59  (which made each of those colors have nice edge-definition)
  • Re-checked the Display Composite Image
  • Slid the Assign Original Color over the the right until I felt it was correct
  • Slid the Mix with Original Image over to the right a little.  I do not know why I did this because it conflicts with what I did on the previous image.  As I said, it doesn’t really matter.  It is the same as doing the opacity slider in Photoshop, just a little slower.


And now we have two layers in Photoshop, as you can see.  I clicked on the top layer, which is the Lucis layer, and created a Mask, which you can see as the white box.


And then, because I wanted to have different layers of opacity on different areas of the photo, I took a black brush at around 25% and began painting on the mask layer.  You can see it there with the gray splotches on the white mask.  For example, I wanted the rocks to be more of that original black color.


And then, finally, we ended up with the finished product below!

The Edge of Iceland at Sunset (by Stuck in Customs)

I hope this tutorial helped you a bit!

Perhaps you will also enjoy my HDR Tutorial or my Textures Tutorial.  Hope you have a good art day! 🙂

  • Jacques (fotofreq on flickr)

    As always, nice tutorial. A bit shorter than I am used to from you, but how much does one really have to show someone about this relatively easy to use piece of software. I had seriously debated whether to not to purchase this, given the price, but also because I am using Topaz Adjust (similar in some ways, I would say) and the Tonal Contrast filter in Nik Efex 3.0. The fact that I get 70 bucks off with your name sealed the deal and I ordered it today. I opted not to get the second dongle, because I only edit on one machine. That said, I am about to buy a new Macbook Pro to replace the one I am using at the moment so I hope it is a simple matter of just reinstalling the software on the new machine when I get it later this year and just swappign the dongle from my current Macbook Pro to the new one. Thanks very much for taking the time to write your review (which was the first push for me to seriously consider dropping 5 “C” notes in the luscious Lucis Pro 6.0) and for the sweet tutorial (by the end of which I made my order).

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  • Thanks Trey for your time and sharing. I will give it a try and download the trial version. Looking forward to see whats possible with it.

  • Trey – does the software only work with Photoshop CS3? Does it run with CS2?

  • Well – Birgit – to be honest I am not too sure. I am using it in CS3, so I know it works there. I assume it also works in CS4.

  • Cool tutorial.

    Suggestion though, for each image could you do a 3 stripe composite image of the steps in the process. This would let us see a side by side comparison of the process from start to finish.

    Besides it might look cool to see the steps…

    Keep up the good work, you inspire me to take more photos.

  • Nice insight into Lucis, but the price tag on Lucis must be a joke 🙁
    Anyways, there’s nothing this plugin does, that can’t be done by using the curves tool creativly and mixing it with photomatix.
    I admit its easier using Lucis, but i ain’t buyin it.

  • James Bradford McGinley

    The 6.0 version definitely has more bells and whistles than my old 3.0, and I would surely spring for it, if they weren’t so damn greedy. $600 – $70 is still overpriced in my estimation. I think they should sell it for $300 and sell 3 times as many.

  • Looks very interesting, but I agree with others here; too expensive! Even if I had a job right now, I still couldn’t justify purchasing the program. I’ll keep it on my list in case I win the lottery, though.

  • I own photomatix, Psd CS4, and a boatload of sharpening and enhancement actions with that. Do you find yourself using Lucis6 more that the photomatix/PSD combo or not. I realize it’s faster and different, but if you could choose one photomatix or lucis6, which would it be?

  • Hi Trey,
    Great Tutorial. The website says Lucis Pro is only available in US at the Moment. What a shame for us Aussies.
    I’ll keep investigating.

  • Thanks!

    JBoone – Well I use Lucis 6 more than any of the sharpening tools already in CS3. If I could only choose one, it would still be Photomatix… although I do use both with almost each shot.

  • one last question, and before I ask I want to that you for the time you take to help make artists better. Here it is: I prefer to create 1 shot RAW images (psuedo hdr), still tripod lazy in most cases. I use photomatix and CS4 for this with noise software. That considered, would Lucis6 be a better alternative for me if I’m trying to perfect just 1 raw exposure as opposed to 5?

  • It’s really hard to say…. you can see what I did above with 1 RAW file. The result is a little different than what you see in the Photomatix tutorial… it’s not that one is better and one is worse… they are just “different”.

  • Charlie

    great review of Lucis 6. I had 2, and am considering Lucis 3 SE/DE. Any thoughts on 3, its 50% cheaper. Love the train shot..

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  • Hey Trey, can you put up the raw files so that we can follow on your examples?

    And, how is Lucis different from Photomatix? I can run Photomatix on a single image and it also creates an HDR look.

  • Thanks all… it is just a lot different than Photomatix. It’s hard to describe. I guess you can see a bit of the processing and how that is different.

  • Alan Kesselhaut

    Great stuff: If you combine Photomatix and Lucis can you give a workflow?

  • Question on the differences between Lucis 3.0 and 6.0.
    Can you do literally everything (and obviously more) in 6.0 that you can in 3.0, or arer they really different products. The reason that I ask is that with the 3.0 you get the ED and SE functions, and with the latter, you get the nice “sculpture” function. When you look at the website for Lucis and see how to set the settings in 6.0 to achieve the “sculpture” look, it looks much different that what the 3.0 sculpture actually does.
    Your thoughts?

  • For those of you with questions of Lucis 6.0 vs older versions, I’ve been using Lucis Pro 5.0, and switching to 6.0 is a GIGANTIC change. Far more functionality. So you can imagine if you have an older version.

    Trey, thanks for the coupon code, you saved me the cost of the doggle for the 2nd PC and shipping, you rock!

  • Scot

    When you brought the image into Photoshop to start the manipulation, was it JPG, or TIFF from a RAW? Was it 8 bits or 16? Seems liek the plug-in pulled out a little info from the shadows so I am thiking you didn’t use 8 bit JPG.

    Just wondering.

    Seems like most people into HDR are using TIFFs from RAW, usually at 16 bit. Not going to start a debate about 8 bit and 16 bit. Just always am curious which are being used.

    Thanks for the really great examples! A picture is worth a thousand…………..

  • Btw, if you buy the latest release, Lucis Pro 6.0 works perfectly with Photoshop CS2.

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  • Norman

    I can not afford Lucis Pro 6, but bought a used copy of version 5, what are the biggest differences between the two? Have you used Lucis Pro 5 before?

  • Well, lot of people saying that it’s too expensive. But, obviously, you can spend the money or not. I’ll add this: using shadows/highlight tool, plus a layer mask, and then some curves adjustment, using the layer mask too can do similar results. No need to use Photomatix, nor do an HDR either.

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    Russel Brown CD at Adobe does this free tutorial that uses RAW converter.

    CS4: Faux HDR Effects

    I use Photomatix alot to get zone system results. I rarely like the heavy HDR effect.

  • Aubrey Williams

    Wow! I have Lucis Pro 5 and Art and will definitely try your method! thx,

  • Glenn


    I just wondered how the effects of this software differ all that much from using a ‘High Pass’ filter in Photoshop? I seem to get similar results that look like these images produced here.

    Thank you, Glenn

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  • I tried Lucis compared to Topaz Adjust. To my mind you can get similar results for a fraction of the price. I do agree with Trey’s comment about the price can actually help your final image. Maybe the best approach get Adjust first and once you’ve pushed that to the limit, move-up to Lucis…

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  • Daniel


    New to this site. Just getting into HDR photography. Am I reading this right?? All I need is Lucis Pro 6.0 and Photoshop create a HDR photograph? No need for Photomax , LR, Nik, etc… Is Lucis Pro 6.0 compatible with CS5?

    Thank you, Dan

  • Thanks!

    Daniel – yes – you can do a lot of it with Lucis. However, there is not one way to make an HDR. You might also refer to my hdr tutorial at ial

  • Derick

    Much to expensive for what it does. I’m sure I can the same results with Photomatix or even Topaz.

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  • Gary

    I was interested until one of the comments mentioned a dongle. No chance!!!!!! If I’m paying, I expect convenience, not hassles.

  • Someone recommended your site to me and I am glad they did. I have been tossing around the idea of getting Lucis Pro 6 (actually told hubby it would make a good “Christmas present”). I have read some of the comments and had a couple questions that perhaps you could answer before I purchase it. First I have a couple HDR programs as well as photosuite by OnOne etc. I noticed an above reader mentioned he could get the same results from photmatix. I must be doing something wrong because I can’t. Is it possible? And also is using a doggle really that much of a hassle? I have never had a program that required one. Doesn’t it just go into a USB port to unlock the plug-in?
    Thanks for your help.

  • Bobbie — you get different results from Photomatix. Lucis does some edging and sharpening that is entirely unique. The dongle is a BIT of a hassle. BUT, if you have a spare USB slot open, you can just leave it in there… and it is no problem.

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  • I have been thinking about getting Lucis 6 for several months based on a lot of things I’ve read. Your tutorial convinced me to click the link and go buy it. Good and bad news… It’s on sale for 2 more days (until the end of 2010) – so that’s nice. They are becoming a “Windoze” only company on January 1st, 2011. That means as far as I’m concerned (as a Mac only user these days) they have essentially gone out of business. So, that along with the ‘dongle’ thing means I’ll move on to something else.

    Great tutorials – thanks!

  • Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this website. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very hard to get that “perfect balance” between usability and appearance. I must say that you’ve done a excellent job with this. In addition, the blog loads extremely quick for me on Internet explorer. Superb Blog!

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  • Adam Miles

    They are selling the mac LucisArt 3 ED/SE bundle right now for $20 on the website. The Win version is still $279. I just purchased it and can confirm the price. Check

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  • Hey Trey. Do you still use Lucis Pro? On the Mac? Because apparently they stopped supporting a Mac version…And neither does it work on CS 6….

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  • Pawel Tomaszewicz

    Do you know the answear now?

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  • 243/4Bob Carter

    Google which purchased NIK software has now made their software free. Yes, it is free. The Color Efex Pro 4 “detail Extractor” filter is excellent for sharper more gritty images but like Lucis it comes with grain which can be somewhat reduced with a a noise reduction filter. The NIK “Tonal Contrast” filter provides excellent contrast control without the grain problem. I lean towards this filter.
    I own Lucis 3ED and while I like it for those images where very sharp detail is desired, I find the grain a distraction on most images. The super detail which is wonderful comes at a price of grain. Maybe the Lucis Pro is better, but I won’t be spending that kind of cash for the occasional gritty image look when the NIK free software does an excellent job.

  • BJR

    Lucis Pro 6 is now on sale for $30!!! There is no more dongle either!This is a bargain, no matter how you slice it. Barbara Williams has been a one woman show for the past 19 years- that means surviving the high costs of pirating and hacking on her own. Lucis Pro does amazing things- especially when you can do all of this with only one image,. It is easy to master and even more fun to explore. Barbara is on the cusp of bringing Lucis Pro from a plugin to a standalone which is nearly ready. Purchasing the plugin now ( after creating an account) will net you the standalone version when it is available:

    For those of you who don’t know,, Lucis Pro’s origins were scientific in nature. In 1998, Barbara brought her software to a forensics lab in Connecticut, knowing her software had a place in forensics. Her genius unlocked missing data from a murder case that had gone cold. Not only did her software crack the case, allowing the murderer to be convicted, her determination led to a landmark case that set a precedent for allowing digital imagery in the courtroom.

    Barbara is wonderful person whose devotion is unrivaled in this industry. You will never be sorry for buying her software or for having the good fortune to hear from her! You can see some great customer work here:

  • Hypnoswan

    Has Lucis gone out of business- can’t get a reply from support and just wondered after the begging letter that went out a while back

    Sad if so


  • Hypnoswan

    Lucis released Lucis Pro SA (stand alone) which worked on current macs

  • Stu – SIC

    There is a note on their site that they are closed for holidays until the 19th.

  • We can make this effect via High Pass in PS.

  • Nice and cool photography dear. Like this technique .
    Thank you.

  • yes its possible to make with the Photoshop HIgh pass effect.

  • Very good Tutorials and Lucis Pro 6.0 is really great one

  • First of all appreciate your photography and then thanks for sharing it.
    Some great moments are captured that provides more happiness to people mind.

  • Thanks for sharing nice and cool photography and technique. It is working good on my which worked on current Mac.

  • Sergio A Gonzalez

    Is there still an active link to download Lucis Pro 6.0?

  • Dr Gary Gaugler

    LucisPro is $39.95 and LucisArt is $29.95.

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