ARCPanel is an extension for Adobe Photoshop CC (2015.5-2020) that solves the pain of building luminosity masks.

There are just 2 tabs: ARCMask and ARCEnhance




Refine with

Apply to





ARCMask let's you build fast and high quality luminosity, saturation and color masks, refine them and apply to any layer you want.

ARCEnhance is there to help with common tasks like Dodge & Burn, Frequency Separation or Orton Effect.

Also, ARCEnhance will stay with you even if you don't purchase full ARCPanel. Yes, it's completely free.

Keep reading to see all ARCPanel features with video examples - every video is short 10-15 seconds clip without audio, so feel free to press that play button.


Luminosity masks made easy

Mask Sources


Mask source is a base for all other masks. By default, Luminosity is used, but you can select other sources to generate, eg. Saturation masks

  • Luminosity – regular luminosity mask
  • R – luminosity mask for Red channel
  • G – luminosity mask for Green channel
  • B – luminosity mask for Blue channel
  • Saturation – mask, applying to most saturated pixels of the image

Color Masks


Color mask is a part of source and build upon on already selected source options: Luminosity or Saturation.

Luminosity is used by default, meaning that colors will be selected based on their luminanse values. Selecting Saturation as the source will change color slider to select based on color saturation values.

After color mask is applied it itself becomes the Source and can be modified by any masks – that means that you can select a range of colors from the image based on their Saturation values and after that select brightest of them by clicking Lights-3 on Masks

  • Color Picker – lets you pick a color from the image to build color mask
  • Color Slider – click anywhere on the slider to select a range, drag handles to modify the range. Click Apply or Cancel to apply or cancel color mask.


Luminosity / Saturation

Mask is generated based on selected source: Luminosity, Saturation or Color. If no source is selected – Luminosity is used.

Gradient provides a hint on which part of the image will be selected

  • Darks from 1 to 6 – generates masks for darks parts of the image
  • Mids from 1 to 6 – generates masks for midtones
  • Lights from 1 to 6 – generates masks for light parts of the image

Adams' Zones System

Read more about zones here

Adams' Zones “slice” image into luminosity ranges, selecting only required part of the image for you

Zone is generated based on selected source. If no source is selected – Luminosity is used

Gradient provides a hint on which part of the image will be selected

  • Zones 0-10 – generates Adam's zone masks


Refine with

Refine lets you apply some changes to the generated mask

  • Levels – will invoke Layers dialog allowing to shift light balance of the mask
  • Curves – will invoke Curves dialog allowing to refine mask
  • Invert – will invert the mask


Apply to

Apply section lets to set generated mask on the desired layer

  • Levels – creates a new Levels adjustment with generated mask set
  • Curves – creates a new Curves adjustment with generated mask set
  • Selection – sets generated mask as a selection
  • To Layer – sets generated mask on the selected layer
  • Adjustment Layer – lets you pick any Adjustment layer and set mask on it

Quick Actions

Quick actions are small utility shortcuts that can improve your workflow speed

  • Clear – clears ARCPanel state, removing selections, channels and active masks
  • Quick Blend – when activated, disables preview and directly applies selected mask on the selected layer. Very helpful when blending images together.
  • Group with white mask – a button to quickly group layers with white mask applied
  • Group with black mask – a button to quickly group layers with black mask applied
  • Preview on hover – disables or enables preview on hover functionality

Infinite Color

One click on Infinite Color button generates a random color grading preset that can be manually adjusted. Keep clicking until you find a pleasing color combination and then tailor it to your needs. Feature works best for city and portrait images allowing to quickly get to film-like colors.

More details in this article. You can also learn more about color grading in general in this article.


Useful enhancements at your disposal



Little tools to make your life easier

  • Solar Curve – a special curve that makes it much easier to spot dust, scratches or issues with clone stamp on the image.

Frequency Separation


Frequency Separation is a tool that lets you extract texture and modify it independently from other parts of the image. Main appliances: smoothening human skin, fixing lens flares, professional product retouching.

  • Gaussian Blur gives more conventional results
  • Surface Blur works good in portraits
  • Median gives much better results and fine-tuning for product retouching.

Every method will generate extra layers for quick re-touching of low and high frequencies and a hidden Texture Boost layer to simplify work with skin.

Selecting "Mixer brush" checkbox will pre-select Mixer Brush after Frequency Separation is built.

Orton Effect


Orton Effect is a very popular enhancement brining that magical glow to the pictures

  • Orton Heavy – strong and visible Orton Effect
  • Orton Soft – a softer version of Orton Effect

Selecting Preserve Darks checkbox will also apply a special mask, that will exclude effect from darkest parts of the image to avoid underexposure.

Orton Heavy before/after

Orton Soft before/after

Dodge & Burn


Dodging and Burning is the main post-processing technique. Dodging is brightening, and Burning is darkening parts of the image.

Panel provides 3 Dodge & Burn techniques

  • Grey Layers – the most used technique – two 50% grey layers with Overlay and Soft Light blending modes
  • Curves – A bit emore advanced technique – 2 curves adjustment layers layered in Luminosity. Curves set the limit of dodge/burn to avoid clipping.
  • Automatic – Good for portraits. Lets you select Blend-If ranges for lights and darks – this allows to automatically update Dodge and Burn when underlying pictures changes