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How to Create Custom Presets and Add Instant Looks to Photos in Lightroom CC

Certain images—most, even—need special attention when it comes to editing them. Lightroom CC provides a slew of presets, or bundled groups of edits, that may very well be all you need to bring an image to its ultimate manifestation. But some pictures need a more customized approach that only you can determine. And if you have a group of photos you want to apply this customized approach to, creating your own unique preset is the way to go.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a custom preset and apply it to other photographs so they all have a cohesive, uniform look. Check out how easy it is to create and use a custom preset, and read the steps that follow. Presets are real time savers, eliminating the persnickety task of applying the same group of edits, one by one, to each image in a series, as well as any human error that might arise in the process.

A woman sits at desk editing a photo of horses on an iPad Pro using the Lightroom app and an apple pencil.A woman sits at desk editing a photo of horses on an iPad Pro using the Lightroom app and an apple pencil.A woman sits at desk editing a photo of horses on an iPad Pro using the Lightroom app and an apple pencil.

How to Create and Apply Custom Presets to Photos in Lightroom CC

The Basics

Lightroom CC is a cloud-based app that allows you to work seamlessly across desktop, mobile, and web. Because it’s cloud-based, it allows you to retain your edits across your devices, share photos easily with others, and enjoy the peace of mind of automatic back-ups. It also syncs the custom presets you make so that those presets are available for you to use on any image you are editing within the Lightroom system of programs.

Creative Cloud plans and pricing for individuals vary from $9.99/month to $19.99/month and come packaged with other perks, apps, and GBs of cloud storage. (Businesses, students & teachers, and schools & universities are offered other plans and pricing.) You can also try it out by activating a free seven-day trial.

1. Open Lightroom CC and Tap Edit

First step: Open Lightroom CC. Then tap the Edit icon in the upper right to open the Edit Panel.

2. Make Changes

Move the sliders in the Edit panel to make your image look exactly as you want it to.

3. Click on Presets

Tap Presets under Edit. 

4. Click on the Three Dots and Select Create Preset

Tap the Three Dots in the Presets panel.

Then select Create Preset... from the dropdown window.

5. Name the Preset

You will be prompted to give your new Preset a name.

Enter a name and tap Save. You will receive notification that the Preset has been created.

6. Select an Image to Apply the Preset to

At the bottom of the window, select the image or images you want to apply the preset to. In this case I'm just applying it to one other image.

7. Open User Presets

Expand User Presets at the bottom by tapping the arrow to the left of it. All the User Presets you created will display.

If you hover over the User Preset, you can see how the image you selected looks with the given User Preset applied.

8. Apply the User Preset

Tap the name of the User Preset to apply it to the image (or images) you selected and you are done!

9. Custom Presets Are Synced

The User Presets you create are automatically synced to the cloud. So when you make a custom preset in Lightroom CC, it is accessible on all other Lightroom apps and across all your devices, too.

Create Presets to Make Precise Edits and Apply Uniform Edits Across Photos

Making custom presets allows you to save edits you’ve made to one image so you can apply those same edits to other images. Applying custom presets to an image collection results in visual uniformity and aesthetic cohesion. It also saves you a boatload of time, and it removes any human error that could sneak into your process. A win-win.

Keep Learning About Lightroom CC and Photography

Here are a few more free tutorials and resources to help you study up on Lightroom CC and photography:

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