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Working with Presets

Presets allow you to make instant changes to your image with one click of a button. Each preset is made up of all the saved filters as well as the settings used for each of those filters.  Presets can also include Blending Mode and Opacity changes made to a filter or a layer. For each layer or adjustment layer, a different preset can be applied, which can make for some creative results!

Applying a Preset

In order to save time when developing your image, you’ll find an extensive collection of presets. Professional photographers from around the world have helped us create a comprehensive group of presets that give your images amazing enhancements in a single click.

To apply a preset:

  1. Make sure an image is open in Luminar.
  2. If the Preset Panel isn’t visible, click its icon in the Top Toolbar.  
The Preset Panel will open at the bottom edge of the screen. You can click the Preset Panel button in the Top Toolbar to toggle displaying and hiding the presets filmstrip bar on the bottom of the window.
  3. Examine the presets available by exploring their thumbnails at the bottom of the page.  Each offers a live preview as what the image would look like with the Preset applied.
  4. Click on a Preset thumbnail to apply it. You can quickly switch presets by clicking on a new thumbnail. You can also use the right and left arrow keys to switch presets.
  5. You can quickly switch presets by clicking on a new thumbnail. To view all the presets in a given category, simply use the arrow keys on your keyboard or the horizontal scrollbar located at the bottom of the Luminar 2018 window.
  6. If you hover your mouse over a preset an Amount slider is revealed, with the default set to 100% opacity. By moving the Amount slider located within the Preset name you can lower the intensity that the effect has on your image.
  7. Click the Star icon on a preset thumbnail to add it to your Favorites list for easy access.

Applying a Preset as an Overlay Preset

If you’d like to experiment with presets more freely, be sure to try out adjustment layers.  An adjustment layer is an empty layer that can hold filters.  This layer is placed above your image and allows for easier control over blending modes and opacity.  It’s also easy to mask an adjustment layer to control which parts are seen (more on masking later).

An easy way to apply a preset to a new adjustment layer is to user the New Preset Overlay feature.

  1. Make sure an image is open in Luminar.
  2. Make sure the Presets panel is open.
  3. Click the New Preset Overlay button in the upper-right corner of the preset area.
A new adjustment layer appears.
  4. Choose the preset that you’d like to use and click its thumbnail.
  5. If you’d like to try a different preset, just click another preview thumbnail.
  6. Experiment by adjusting the Blending Mode and the Opacity for the Overlay Preset layer.

Loading Additional Presets

There are many presets included with Luminar.  To make it easy to manage these presets, you’ll find that they are organized into several groups and categories.

Choosing a Group

Presets are organized into three major groups. To view these options click the circular icon at the right edge of the Presets Panel.  This will open up the Group and Category browser.


  • All Presets shows you both presets created by the Skylum team as well as any that you’ve saved or imported.
  • Favorite Presets are the presets that you tagged with a star (just click the hollow star on a preset’s thumbnail). Use these presets to create a consistent edit across a series of images or to keep a shortlist of your favorite adjustments.
  • User Presets shows you presets that you’ve created on your own.
Choosing a Category
Presets are also organized into Categories to help sort them by style.  These categories include presets created by Skylum and professional photographers. To view by category, click the circular icon at the right edge of the Presets Panel and choose the All Presets group.  You’ll now see several categories to choose from, including:
  • Basic. These presets create subtle changes in your image for clarity, vivid colors, adding  a vignette, and more.
  • Street. These work well for photographs shot under on-the-move conditions.  Bring out detail and add contrast to your images quickly.
  • Outdoor.  A collection of presets that are well-suited for outdoor lighting.  Use these presets to quickly add contrast, make colors vivid, improve skies, or add details with structure.
  • Portrait. Enhance the look of people by smoothing skin tones and bringing back warmth and color to your subject.
  • Travel.  Apply subtle adjustments to both color and contrast.  These presets are useful for evoking a mood and are a quick way to stylize your photos.
  • Dramatic. Use these presets to create images that offer a dramatic flair.  Looks include presets to create desaturated colors, high-contrast tones, rich colors, big glows, or soft focus.
  • Aerial Inspired by DJI. These preset are perfect for photos taken from your drone.  They are optimized to bring out the most detail in aerial photos while cutting down on haze and sharpening the image.

Customizing Presets

Remember, a preset is merely a starting point. Different photographers will desire different looks.  Plus a preset may work great on some photos, but need a little tweaking for others.  Once you select a preset, you have the ability in the Side Panel to use Filters controls to modify that preset to fit your specific image needs.

Saving Custom Presets

As you adjust presets or build your own recipes from scratch, you may find a particular combination that you like.  Custom presets can function as the jumping off point for your own look and style. A preset can store a lot of control in an easy, one-click effect.

1. Adjust an existing preset or add your own effects to an image.

2. Click the “Save Filters Preset” button in the lower-right area of the Filters controls.

3. A dialog will pop-up at the top of the window asking you to name your preset. Give it a descriptive name to help you remember which situations to use the preset.

4. Click the OK button to store the preset. Once you've added the preset, it will appear in the User Presets group.

Adding a Custom Preset Pack

Occasionally Skylum or other professional photographers will release a collection of presets, called “Packs”. When you import a Custom Preset Pack, it will create a new category in the Presets category window, and display any associated presets therein.

To add a Custom Preset Pack, select the menu item File > Add Custom Presets Pack. An open dialog will be displayed, allowing you to choose the Pack you wish to add.

You can also get more presets from the Category switcher.  Just click the Get More Presets… button.


Download the full Luminar 2018 User Guide for Windows in PDF Format


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