Published on October 26, 2023, 11:08 am
Skylum, the company behind Luminar Neo photo-editing software, is introducing generative AI features to its desktop apps for Mac and Windows. This move aims to provide easy-to-use generative AI tools for a wider range of photographers, including hobbyists.
The new generative AI features in Luminar Neo allow users to remove unwanted objects from their images, expand the canvas, or replace and add specific elements into a photo. These tools are similar to Google Photos’ Magic Editor and Magic Eraser as well as Adobe’s Generative Fill tool. However, unlike Adobe’s tool, Luminar Neo offers two tools — GenErase and GenSwap — instead of just one. Users can simply select an area on the image they want to remove and click “Erase,” without the need for a text prompt field.
One key difference between Luminar Neo and Adobe’s Generative Fill is that Luminar Neo doesn’t offer result options to choose from. Instead, users would have to click the “Erase” button again to obtain a different outcome.
Skylum was originally founded in 2008 as Macphun by game developers and amateur photographers Paul Muzok and Dima Sytnik. Initially focused on iOS applications like Vintage Video Maker, Skylum later ventured into developing various other iOS apps while maintaining a strong interest in photography. They eventually launched their first Mac app called FX Photo Studio Pro in 2010, which garnered over 50 million downloads. Over the years, Skylum merged multiple apps together to create Creative Kit and introduced photo editing software called Luminar in 2016. In 2018, the company rebranded itself as Skylum.
Luminar’s goal has always been to offer user-friendly photo editing software for desktop users that can handle complex tasks with ease. The latest version of this app, Luminar Neo, was released in 2022 and primarily caters to hobbyist photographers. However, some professionals also use Luminar Neo as a plugin for Lightroom or Photoshop.
With the rise of generative AI models for image editing, Skylum recognized the need to incorporate this functionality into their product to make photo editing even more accessible. The company plans to release one generative AI tool each month until the end of 2023. The first tool, GenErase, was launched on October 26. GenSwap (to replace elements) and GenExpand (to expand the canvas) will follow on November 16 and December 14, respectively.
Skylum’s CEO Ivan Kutanin explains that all three generative features released this year are based on the same technology but with different parameters that yield different results for various use cases. Skylum utilizes Stable Diffusion models along with its Upscale AI model and other proprietary models in a single pipeline, enabling the software to increase image resolution and quality. Currently, Luminar Neo offers up to 1536×1536 in image resolution, surpassing Photoshop’s current offering of 1024×1024.
To ensure user privacy, the processing of images takes place in the cloud, but neither the input nor output images are stored by Skylum. The company aims to differentiate its software from others with similar generative AI tools by focusing on ease of use. Skylum prides itself on Luminar Neo’s user-friendly interface tailored to beginners while also harnessing around 40 complex AI models for powerful editing capabilities.
Luminar Neo is available at various pricing tiers for both new and existing users. After October 28, users can choose between a monthly plan ($14.95), an annual plan ($119), or a two-year plan ($179). There is also an option for a lifetime pass priced at $299, which includes a “Creative Journey Pass” providing access to the new generative AI features until August 16, 2024. From that point onwards, users will need to purchase a new Creative Journey Pass or switch to a subscription.
Existing users can upgrade at a slightly reduced price with the first year starting at $79 and subsequent years priced at $99 after October 28. Discounts are available if the upgrade is purchased before this date.
Skylum, which has been profitable for several years and employs over 120 people, has never raised external funding. The company remains dedicated to providing innovative solutions in photo editing and empowering photographers of all levels with accessible generative AI tools through Luminar Neo.