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How to Use Presets in Affinity Photo
  • By Design Bundles
  • 21 Sep 2021
  • 13 Mins
  • Affinity Tutorials

How to Use Presets in Affinity Photo

Learn how to use Presets in Affinity Photo with this step by step tutorial.

Affinity Photo has preloaded presets that can be found under the Adjustments Panel. Unfortunately Lightroom presets can't be used in Affinity Photo. We can, however, use LUT presets. LUT is known as Lookup Table where a predetermined formula is used to create a type of filter over your images. This creates a unique look for your photos. In this tutorial we will show you how to use presets in Affinity Photo.

In this tutorial we will be using a photo of friends eating together as an example to show how the presets work.

Using presets in Affinity Photo differs in comparison to other programs. The presets are applied as Adjustment layers to your image.

For this tutorial we will be using LUTs from a vintage presets bundle but you can use any Affinity Photo preset available on Design Bundles.

Use pre-installed Affinity Photo Presets

We will start off by locating and using the pre-installed presets before moving onto installing new ones. That way you can get an idea of how to use the presets first.

Step 1 - Locate the Presets

Let us begin by opening our photo. Go to File>Open and choose the photo you want to use.

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Affinity Designer Presets can be found under the Adjustment toolbar on the right hand side. This is how you can see the adjustment previews applied. If you can’t see the Adjustments panel, go to View > Studio > Adjustment. The panel will be added to the right hand side of your screen.

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To make it easier to work with, we will move the panel over to the left hand side. Click and drag the Adjustment panel over to the left side of the screen until the area turns blue. Releasing your mouse button will place the panel.

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Step 2 - Apply a Preset to your photo

We will be uploading LUT presets (.cube files) later on but first, let us experiment with the presets already available. Select your image then go to where your Adjustment panel is located. If you click the top most Adjustment shown as Levels, a preview of Default, Darken and Lighten will be given.

Here we clicked on Darken and immediately it was applied to the photo. The Levels option window appears, allowing you to adjust as you need.

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We adjusted the Black Level slider to 10%, White Level Slider to 94% and the Gamma Slider to 0.796. These values added contrast but also lightened the image. Once you are happy click on the X top right of the window to close out.

The Adjustment layer appears on top of the image layer under the Layers panel on the right. As this is a non-destructive adjustment, you can edit it whenever you want by double clicking on the Adjustment layer.

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You can close the Levels Adjustment preview on the left hand side by clicking on it.

Step 3 - Apply additional Presets to the image

Now that you know where to find the presets and how to add them, let’s edit our image further. Under the Adjustments panel we selected Color Balance to remove some of the red in the photo. Clicking on the Color Balance option gave us the choice of adjusting the Tonal range.

Click on the Tonal range option. You will be able to edit the Midtones, Shadows and Highlights as well as the colors below that.

We only adjusted the Cyan/Red colors for Midtones (-21%), Shadows (-3%) and Highlights (-7%).

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Next, we clicked on the Vibrance adjustment and chose Complicate. Experiment with the Vibrance and Saturation to give a subtle change to the image.

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Carry on to adjust the image using the Adjustment presets until you are happy with the result. In the next part of the tutorial we show you how to work with LUT presets.

Install and use LUT Presets

LUT presets create a distinct and unique look similar to a filter. In Affinity Photo, while we can’t make use of Lightroom presets, LUTs are readily available. They are also easy to install and use.

Step 1 - Locate and apply LUT Presets

Under the Adjustment panel that you have been using in this tutorial, scroll down to LUT. Click on the adjustment to open the presets available. Unlike the other adjustments, there is no preview of the presets. You can also access the LUT presets by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > LUT.

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When you click on a preset, the LUT window will appear. You can swap between LUT presets by either clicking on another preset or clicking on Load LUT. The selected preset will replace the previous one.

There are only a few options for editing this type of preset. However, you can change the Opacity as well as the Blending mode.

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Step 2 - Install new LUT Presets

LUT presets with the file extension .cube can be installed in Affinity Photo. Next to the LUT adjustment is a cogwheel. When you click this you are given a few options. Click on the cogwheel then Import.

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Locate where your LUT presets are stored. You can select one preset, a few or all. To select one preset, just click to open. To open more than one, hold down Ctrl while selecting multiple presets. Then click Open.

We chose to install the first four LUT presets. Once loaded, the presets are visible under the pre-installed ones.

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Click on the presets to see how they look. We went with the first preset, changed the Blending Mode to Multiply and reduced the Opacity to 50%.

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Step 3 - Organize your LUT Presets

You may want to organize your LUT presets to keep them neat and easy to identify. Once again click on the cogwheel next to the LUT adjustment. Select Create New Category.

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You will see the new category appear called LUT in the category selection option. Click the cogwheel again and select Rename Category then change the name to what you want. Now, click on the category selection to go back to the Default option as this is where your LUT was installed.

Scroll down to your installed LUT, right click > Move to Category and choose the category name. The LUT will be moved to the new category. It appears that you can only move one LUT preset at a time.

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If you want to rename or delete a LUT, right click then choose Rename or Delete. Keep in mind that presets in Affinity Designer are non-destructive and can be adjusted at any time.

If you found this tutorial enjoyable but sure to have a look at our other tutorials like installing brushes in Affinity Designer and converting JPEG images to SVG in Inkscape.

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