Minimal Lightroom Tutorial: How to Create a Soft Matte Effect

Learn how to create a minimal soft matte effect in Lightroom!

Minimal effects can be great for blog images, portraits/lifestyle photos, and many other styles of photography.

I have always been a fan of the soft matte effect, so today we are going to take a look at how to create this photo effect using Lightroom.

This effect is not very hard to create and only requires 2-3 steps depending on your shooting style. Once completed, you can adjust the colors and settings to make the effect perfect for your images.

Related: Five Landscape Photo Editing Tips for Lightroom

minimal lightroom tutorial: matte effect

1. Basic Adjustments

The basic adjustments help balance the lighting and boost the color contrast. Depending on how bright your photos is, you may want to adjust these settings.

  • Exposure: +0.10
  • Contrast: +10
  • Highlights: -10 (reduce more if overexposed)
  • Shadows: +15 (boost more if dark shadows)
  • Whites: +4
  • Blacks: +10

basic lightroom adjustments

2. Curves Settings

Now to create the soft matte effect. The Tone Curve is the perfect tool for that. Lift the curve (top arrow) and bring the lower left most point up to lighten the shadows and add a natural fade to your images.

Bringing the top right most point down slightly darkens the whites (making them grey) and adding a more faded look to the photo. Get matte presets here.

lightroom matte effect curves adjustment

If you want to make the ‘fade’ even stronger, simply bring the lower left most point up even further and push the point immediately to the right of it down. Here is an emphasized example to show you what I mean:

tone curve adjustment

3. HSL Settings

This step is completely optional depending on how prominent you want your colors to be.

Once you adjust the Tone Curve, it will typically fade the whites/blacks and make them more of a balanced grey. Because of this, the colors can sometimes become washed out and less pronounced.

To combat this and bring the color detail out a bit more, I will boost the Saturation for a few colors. Usually the greens, blues, and sometimes reds/oranges for sunrise and sunset photos. You can also change the hue of any color if you want your edit to have a more uniform look with aligned colors.

lightroom hsl settings

Final Edit

Here is a before/after of the image to show you the full effect.

minimal matte effect lightroom

More Photo Editing Tutorials

Learn photo editing with these tutorials for Lightroom, Photoshop, Capture One, and more!

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