How To Create A Lightroom Preset
October 15, 2013
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You’ve spent all night working on an image, tweaking every single slider inside of Lightroom. In a burst of creativity and inspiration, you’ve found the perfect combination of contrast, clarity, and sharpness. Your tonal curve is gorgeous, as is the resulting image. This is it! You’ve found your look! Now what? Create a develop preset, of course, so you can easily recreate that look again!

Simply put, develop module presets provide a way to save the adjustments you made to one image so that you can apply those same adjustments to other images. They can be applied to an image in the Develop module itself, but you can also apply them during the import process, which is useful for camera-specific or situational-specific (e.g., low light starter) presets, or even from the Library module by selecting multiple images.

Back to you, and your vision, and your look. Let’s create your preset.

Create a Preset

It may be obvious, but the starting point for creating a preset is an image that has adjustments made to it that you want to save. Creating a preset involves saving the current values from the Develop module sliders, so if you haven’t modified any of the slider values to create a look, creating a preset wouldn’t do much good. But since you were up all night creating your look, you are ready to go!

It’s not too late! You can go back to an image that you’ve already edited and create a preset using those settings.


To create a new preset, click the + near the Presets box or use the shortcut N. Give your preset a name, and select which folder you want to store your preset in. Folders are handy to organize your presets by style (color versus black and white), by lens or camera for presets that include Lens Correction of Calibration, or for different medium.

If you want to create a folder for your presets, you can do so by using the shortcut N.


Next, you’ll want to select which settings you want to include in your preset. If this is your first preset, the New Develop Preset dialog can be intimidating, but I’m here to help sort it out.

The New Develop Preset Dialog

Lightroom Fanatic - New Develop Preset Dialog

Lightroom Fanatic – New Develop Preset Dialog

Auto Tone – Causes Lightroom to automatically tone the image, adjusting the exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, and white and black clipping, just as if you click on the same button in the Develop module.

White Balance – Applies the temperature and tint. I shoot in such varied lighting conditions that I don’t usually include the white balance and instead opt to adjust it on an image or project basis.

Basic Tone – These options have individual checkbox because, if selected, your preset will overwrite each of the components, even if their value is 0. If you only want to apply a contrast value in your preset, uncheck the other tone options.

Tone Curve – Applies a specific tone curve to your image. I will include this if I modified the tone curve to get a specific contrast.

Clarity – Applies the clarity value to your image.

Sharpening – Adjusts the sharpening of your image to the saved value.

Treatment (Color) – From the top of the Basic tab, change the treatment of your image to Color or Black & White

Color – Applies the saturation and vibrance from the Basic tab, or color adjustments options from the HSL / Color / B&W tab.

Split Toning – Applies split toning. If this option is selected but your highlight’s and shadow’s hue and saturation values are 0, it will effectively remove split toning from an image.

Graduated Filters – This will apply any graduated filters to an image. If you have this option checked but don’t have any graduated filters on your image, when you apply this preset to another image, it will not remove any filters from the target image. However, if you create a preset with filters, it will remove any filters on the target image before adding the incoming ones from the preset.

Radial Filters – This will apply any radial filters to an image. The same application rules apply to the radial filter as the graduated filter.

Noise Reduction – If checked, the preset will apply the noise reduction values. I have some low-light presets that include a good starting value for noise reduction for my different cameras.

Lens Correction – Applies lens correction. Since it is lens specific, you will need a different preset for each lens.

Effects – Applies vignette and grain. I like to have a slight vignette on my images so I like to include it in my presets.

Process Version – Located under the Camera Calibration tab, you can include this if you want to use a specific version.

Calibration – This option will include the settings from the Camera Calibration tab.

Knowing When to Include What

The main thing to keep in mind is that the options in a preset are not additive; that is, they will overwrite any adjustment setting already made to an image. For example, if you adjust the exposure of an image to +2 and then apply a preset that also does an exposure adjustment of +1, the value from the preset will overwrite the adjustment you already made, and the new exposure value for the image will be +1.

Because of that, I don’t recommend including all the settings in every preset. Instead,  you should only include the settings that contribute to the look that you want. That said, sometimes you may want to include settings simply to start the editing process. If you make a mistake and include a setting that you want to remove, you can always go back and update your preset and deselect that setting, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Just remember, the more specific to a look you make your preset, the more versatile it will be.

Create a preset that you want to share? Check out our Exporting Presets post and comment with a link to your preset!




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