How to create presets in photoshop – step by step

In today’s world is using presets very popular. It is more evident in Lightroom, but it is also possible to create and apply presets in Photoshop.

Here are the steps on how to create and use presets in Photoshop:

  • Open a photo in Photoshop
  • Create adjustments by adjustment layers
  • Export to Color Lookup file
  • Open another image
  • Apply created Color lookup adjustment layer

Let’s assume we have a couple of photos that have similar light conditions, and we would like to apply the same setting in general. Maybe later we can decide to make further adjustments on each particular image that are more specific.


Open a photo in Photoshop

For opening a photo in Photoshop, you can use default Open function but in the case of RAW files you won’t be able to see the preview or icon of all files. This could make it a little bit difficult, because the best way is to see what you are browsing visually.

Therefore we used to use for example Adobe Bridge as a photo browser and open the file from there.

Another option is to use Adobe Lightroom, where you can also see the photo previews

Don’t forget if you are opening a RAW image, it will be opened in Adobe Camera Raw first. So make sure you do not make any enhancements here and navigate directly to the Open button and open it in Photoshop.

Of course, you could do so, but you will lose the effect of repeatability of preset we plan to create in Photoshop. That is why to bypass Adobe Camera RAW settings and go directly to Photoshop. We will cover the Adobe Camera RAW settings in another tutorial.

Enhance the image using Adjustment Layers

Now comes the main part of the whole process. Let us make the adjustments using Adjustment layers. Now here is an important point. You can enhance or edit your image, but you have to keep the structure as you have the original locked background layer and above that Adjustment Layers.

Otherwise, you won’t be able to export Color Lookup table, in other words, the preset usable also for other photos

You can use as many Adjustment Layers as you want.

So let us enhance our particular original image.

As the first thing, I’d like to increase the Exposure because the original image is underexposed. So let’s create a new Exposure Adjustment Layer.

Drag the Exposure slider slightly to the right. Then decrease the Offset by just a bit. It will create a nice contrast. If the contrast is too high, you can correct it with the Gamma Correction Slider. But in my case, I am satisfied, so no Gamma correction is needed.

For the next enhancement, we will use the Black & White Adjustment Layer. Don’t worry; we want to keep the photo in color. So let’s change the blending mode to Luminosity.

Now try to play with the sliders. I wanted to emphasize the light in Greens, so I increased it. Don’t forget we are just changing the luminosity of particular colors, not the real colors.

Let’s increase the Vibrance of the whole photo. Create a new Vibrance Adjustment Layer and drag the Vibrance slider to the right. I do not use the Saturation Slider here.

My next ambition was to increase the fresh look of the rice fields by increasing the presence of the green color tones. So let’s create a new Selective Color Adjustment Layer. We know the green as influenced mainly by Greens and Yellows. So for this targeted change, I created the Selective Color Adjustment Layer.

Now I increased the Cyan tones in Yellows and also in Greens. Additionally decreased the Yellows in Greens and increased Black in Greens as well to darken the green color tones and create a nice contrast.

The last enhancement is to create a new Photo Filter Adjustment Layer.

I selected preset Green and increased the density.

So here is the final image with all adjustment layers:

Export the Preset to Color Lookup file

Okay, now is the time to save all of our enhancements and setting as a new preset file. so navigate to File->Export->Color Lookup Tables

Now a new saving dialog window will appear:

You can insert anything in the description for your further reference – it is not the name of the saved file. Keep the Quality settings at the Medium – default setting. Medium is enough, and if you chose Maximum, it would increase the LUT file, which is not our goal here.

You can keep all formats selected, but it is enough to go only with the CUBE. It is the standard used in Photoshop. Now click OK and select the location where you want the new preset LUT file to be located on your hard drive.

Apply created Preset to another photo

Now is the time to use our new preset – saved Color Lookup Table. So let’s open another image

The best results you will get with similar images regarding light conditions, exposure, and color tones.

For example, you, as a professional photographer might want to shoot more shots of the same subject or nature shot from various angles or with other different subjects in the scene. And this is the ideal case to use the Presets in Photoshop. So let’s create a new adjustment layer

Your new LUT preset is not visible in the list, so click Load 3D LUT and navigate to the location where you have saved the LUT preset before.

A new Adjustment layer is created and all the settings are applied. so here is the result with a new image:

So we enhanced the whole image just by adding one Adjustment Layer. The great thing is we can improve the picture even further and make any other adjustment layers, but also make any complicated enhancement.

It could be masking and enhancing just a part of the image, removing the unwanted object or anything else. You can also decrease the Opacity of this adjustment Layer and to weaken the effect if needed.

We can achieve interesting results using various Blending Modes applied to the Color Lookup Adjustment Layer.

If you want to have your own LUT presets to be visible in the default list, it is also possible. Find your saved LUT preset file where you saved it on your local hard drive. The task is to move it to the default Photoshop preset folder, where are also the other presets saved.

  • Copy your created LUT preset File
  • Navigate to C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop 2020\Presets\3DLUTs
  • Paste your file here

Your path could be slightly different, but you know the principle. Also on Mac, it will be a different location, of course.


So, in summary, we created a lot of adjustments on a selected original source image. Then we exported all these enhancements as one file – Color Lookup file, which is our Preset.

Keep remembering we can do it only by using one locked background layer and above that we apply as many Adjustment Layers as we want.

Then we can use this saved preset on any image we want just by adding one Color Lookup Adjustment layer. And of course, then we can continue with further editing if needed without any limitations.

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