Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Building your own Develop presets, part of Using Presets in Lightroom.
If you're into develop presets, this is a movie you don't want to miss. Because I'm going to show you how to build a develop preset from scratch. Now, you don't have to start from scratch. You can start from a preset that you've installed and then just modify it or you can at least apply a preset to a representative photo. And then take a look at the controls in the various panels on the right side of the develop module to get a sense of how a particular kind of preset is built. So if I want to know how to make an infrared preset and I happen to have one already, as I do, here in the black and white category of LDC presets, I might just click on one.
This infrared style one for example, an then take a look at the settings over here, in the various panels on the right, so that I can see how this was built. Now instead of using this as a starting point, I'm actually going to undo by pressing Cmd + Z or Ctrl + Z on the PC, and I'm going to build that same style from scratch for you so you can see the approach that I took. Though although I'm building a preset that converts a color image to a particular black and white style, The specifics aren't that important. My general approach to building a preset is what I would like you to take home.
So I'll choose a photo that represents the kind of photos on which I want to play this preset. I have lots of photos taken with blue sky and like foliage. And I like the preset to make those look really dramatic like the preset that I just showed you. So I'll start by making the black and white conversion. I can do that from here in the Basic Panel or from the HSL Color Black and White Panel, it doesn't matter, and then I'll go down and Open that HSL Color Black and White Panel and here you can see the mix of brightness values that Light room automatically chose for this particular photo.
I'm going to tweak those so that I'm going to get the result that I want on other photos as well. For example, I know that I want the foliage to be light so I go to the Green Slider and I'm going to Drag that to the Right. And if I want to apply this to photos taken in the Fall, then I want the yellow foliage to be bright as well so I'll Drag the Yellow Slider over to the Right. And I would continue going through setting each of these values to a number that's getting me the look I want on this representative photo. If I'm not sure what color a particular area of the photo is, then I'll use the targeted adjustment tool here to move into the photo and just drag, for example I'm dragging on the sky and you can see that that's moving the blue slider.
Sometimes there's purple or aqua in the sky to, but in this case it's just blue. I want the blue parts of my photos to be dark, so I'll drag this down. Now that's looking pretty good, but there's more that I can do. So I'm going to move to another panel, the basic panel, you'll often work in the basic panel when your creating presets. My general approach in this preset is I want something more contrasty looking. So I'm going to go right to the contrast slider and drag that to the right. To bring in more detail in the highlights, I'll drag the highlights slider to the left.
And I want the brightest whites to be even brighter, so I'll drag the whites slider to the right. And I'll make the darkest tones even blacker to increase contrast by dragging the blacks slider slightly to the left. Now notice, that I didn't do anything to the exposure slider. And that's because often when I apply a preset, I want to be able to tweak the Exposure slider because every photo, needs a little bit different amount of exposure. So I don't want to include the Exposure slider here, I want to leave that at zero. How then, can I include a brightness factor in this preset.
Well, that's when the tone curve comes into play. You don't always have to use the tone curve in a black and white conversion, but I'm going to this time. So I'll click on the tone curve panel, I'll click right in the center of this tone curve to add a point there. And then I'm going to hold the Shift key down so that I don't move to the left or right, and I'll just drag up. And that increases the overall brightness of the photo. And then I can close the Tone Curve panel. So I think that's looking pretty good. I'm going to go with that as my preset. So the next step is to save that entire group of settings as a record or a recipe that I can apply to other photos. I'll click the plus button on the Presets panel and that opens the New Develop Presets window.
I'm going to give the preset a name, and I try to give this a little thought because presets appear alphabetically inside a folder and they're also case-sensitive. So I want all the presets that I make in this course to be next to one another in a particular folder, so I'm going to have them all start with preset course. And then I'll put a hyphen. And this is a black and white conversion, so I'll type BW and it's going to be my Infrared Style 1. And then I'll choose the folder into which this preset will go.
I can always move it later. From the Folder menu, I can choose an existing folder or I could make a New Folder. I'll make a New Folder. I'll call this Preset Course and this is the folder into which I'm going to save all the presets I make during the course. I'll click 'create'. And now, I have the important job of choosing which settings Lightroom is going to memorize from those that I set as I was creating this preset. As a general approach, I try to keep these boxes to a minimum. In other words, I include only those things that I changed, and that I want to have change every time this preset is applied.
And I think one of the things that trips people up is that they leave something checked without realizing it. So, I recommend as a first step that you come down and click the check none button and then you put a check mark just where you need it. Even when you choose check none notice that process version remains checked and I think that's important. In most cases I will include the process version in a preset. The process version is the technology in a particular version of light room. Watch what happens if I uncheck this. I get this warning that if I don't include the process version and then I apply this preset in a future version of light room, I may get different version than I anticipated, so I will go ahead only process version checked. Now I'm going to carefully check, just those properties that I want to include in the preset.
So again, these are things that I changed, an that I want to have applied to every photo, to which this preset is applied. So in the Basic Tone panel, I changed the Contrast, the Highlights, the White Clipping and the Black Clipping. Notice that I'm not checking exposure. Even if I had changed the exposure for this particular photo, I wouldn't want that change recorded in the preset, because as I said exposure is something that so variable across images. The next thing I changed was I added the tone curve, so I checked tone curve here. I didn't make any changes to Clarity or Sharpening, but I did convert the photo to black and white. So I'll check Treatment Black and White.
Now, here I have two choices, I could either check Black and White mix or Auto Black and White mix. If I check Auto Black and White Mix, then this preset will include an instruction to perform an auto mix that's specific to any photo to which the preset is applied. But that isn't what I want to do. I want absolute values for the black and white sliders. The settings that I chose. Those are always going to give me bright foliage and dark sky. So instead of auto black and white mix, I'll check black and white mix, and that will give me those absolute values.
And by the way the same is true of the tonal values that I chose in the basic tone area. And the particular tone curve. Those are all going to be the exact values applied every time. And by the way, those are not relative values. Those are specific numbers. Now, you may have noticed that there are no check boxes here for certain things that you could do to an image. For example, there's no check box for spot removal. And there's no check box for cropping. Those are things that you can't include in a preset and there are no boxes here for tweaking colors in this image and that's because I had converted it to black and white so Lightroom doesn't give me any options for color. I didn't make any other changes so I can go ahead and Click create but I do want to mention one more thing and that is let's say that ultimately I want to have a black and white infrared that also has some green in it. And also has a vignette in it.
I could have included vignetting and grain in this preset as I was building it. But I tend to want to keep my effects separate so that I have more flexibility to layer different effects together so that in some cases I could apply this preset with another preset that adds a vignette. Sometimes I just want the infrared black and white conversion without the vignette. So I'll make a separate preset for the vignette, a separate one for grain and so forth. I'm going to go ahead and click create now, and in my preset course folder, you can see my brand new preset, the one labeled preset course, black and white infrared.
Let me make the column wider so we can see the whole name there, black and white infrared style one. So we know what this preset looks like on the photo on which I built it. How would it look on another photo? I'm going to open my film strip where I do have another photo of fall foliage, and I'm going to try my preset out on this photo. I'll scroll down on the presets panel so I can access my new preset there, here it is, if I hover over it you can see a small preview in the navigator panel of how it's going to look in this photo. If I actually want to apply it I'll click it.
And I think it does a pretty good job on this photo, too. But it's not perfect, and after I've applied a preset, I almost always will tweak it by going over to the panels and making changes there. So here for example, I may want to increase the exposure in this particular image or increase the Contrast and so forth. So that's how to build and save a preset in light room. I hope you'll take my general approach and sum up the tricks and techniques I mentioned and put those to use as you build your own presets.
- What is a Develop preset?
- Installing Develop presets made by others
- Building your own Develop presets
- Applying and layering Develop presets
- Making copyright and contact metadata presets
- Building import presets
- Making file-naming presets
- Creating text watermarks
- Making export presets