Matte Effect Made Easy: How to Create a Matte Effect in Lightroom

Some may call it trendy, some call it their style. I find that using the matte effect is lovely, and I incorporate at least a touch of it in many of my images. It’s a great way to add style, and dimension and even evoke emotion into some images. If you’ve wondered how to create a matte effect in Lightroom, today I’ll show you how easy it is to get a little or a lot of matte and transform your photo.

Create a Matte Effect in Lightroom

I like to edit my image first; I take care of everything – the color correction, the crop, contrast, vignetting etc. I consider matte an optional icing on the cake. I like to be able to see if the matte effect really adds anything to my image or if I prefer it as is.

Using the Tone Curve

To start, within the Develop Module, get into the Tone Curve window. This is very similar to a tool found in Photoshop, which does the same thing. This is where the magic happens. When you open your Lightroom, your Tone Curve may be open with sliders below the Tone Curve Box, we will need to close these. Click the bottom right button as noted. This will allow you to set your own control points.

Create a Matte Effect in Lightroom

Once you have the sliders gone it is time to set your first control point. I always set it on the bottom lower third point – it’s easy to remember and be consistent. Then it’s really just a matter of getting all the way to the left and sliding the left-most point of the blacks up. This reduces the amount of black in your photo; essentially muting them and even adding haze the more you pull up.

In this image I just added a bit of haze so you can see the change.

Create a Matte Effect in Lightroom

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Here I am adding even more so you can see how it is affecting this image. As you will notice, the background is much deeper and darker, and the crispness of this image is gone. It looks very soft, almost hazy.

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Final Adjustments

Often times I find that I personally don’t love what adding the matte effect does to skin tones. That is why in my final edit I have chosen to not only reduce the overall level of the matte, but I have also bumped the lighter mid-tones by adding another control point and pushing it up slightly.

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So here are all the versions next to each other. They really are subtle changes, but I like having the option to do it and experiment rather quickly.

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And one more thing, if you find you are not liking the change, or want to modify, or start over, you can always click on the word Custom (next to Point Curve) and the dialogue box will come up and you can click Linear and just start again.

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Now that you know how to create a matte effect in Lightroom, I hope you find this tutorial easy to use and that you can take the time to play with it. It will help you find your style and achieve the look you are looking for. Good luck!