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The Editing Cheat Sheet: Includes 10 Recipes for Editing in Lightroom

Everyone loves a good before and after example, but sometimes, they can leave you wondering exactly how a certain edit was achieved using a particular preset. In this blog post, I'm going to dive a bit deeper into several edits and tell you exactly how I came to a final image. Of course, it is important to remember that presets will act differently on various images. By that I mean, the quality, color, and direction of your light, the choices you make during exposure, and the true-to-life colors existing in your original image will all play a role in how a preset impacts your image. However, this blog post should shed some light on how presets, workflow sets, brushes, and filters can all be used to create beautiful, and easy, edits. 

Here we have a well exposed, unedited image on the left. On the right, we have a beautiful final edit that pops with rich contrast and colors. The steps I took to achieve this edit are as follows:

  • Starting Preset: Color Riche from the Limited Edition Summer Collection
  • Color Riche as a one-click preset left my image a tad bright, so I manually brought the exposure down from .20 to .07.
  • The highlights in my image were still a bit bright, so I used the convenient Recover Clipping preset from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection.
  • Next, I moved on to brush work to fix some minor issues. First, I used the Skin Smooth brush from the Pretty Presets Portrait Brush set and went over all of her skin. Second, I used a Fix Magenta brush from the Pretty Preset Newborn Brush set and went over her feet as they were a bit red/purple in the original image. Then, I used a Fix Reds brush, also from the Pretty Preset Newborn Brush set, and went over her feet again to further negate the reds in that area. After that, I used a Lighten Shadows brush from the Graduated Filter Toolbox to lighten the shadows around her neck. (If you didn't know this, graduated filters can also easily be used as brushes). I then used the Fix Reds brush again and went over her face a bit as the reds were a bit strong in the shadows of her face. For my final brush, I used the Reduce Shine brush from the Pretty Preset Portrait Brush set and went over the areas with a slight shine on her cheeks, forehead, and nose. 
  • Following my brush work, I moved down to the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance adjustment panels. Here, I reduced the saturation of the oranges and purples slightly. I also moved the hues of the reds slightly to the right.
  • Then, I used the Contrast A Lot preset from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection.
  • To finish this image up, I turned on Enable Profile Corrections under the Lens Correction adjustment panel, used Add Grain One from the Pretty Preset Fine Art Film Collection, and added blur to the bottom of the image using the Pretty Preset Blur Filters, which are included as a Bonus Set upon purchasing the Complete Collection of Pretty Presets. 
All in all, because I've taken the time to get to know my preset and brush collections and how they behave and because I was working with a solid SOOC image, this edit took me about five minutes.

Here is another edit with the same image. This is more creative edit and is quite striking on this image. My steps for this edit are as follows:

  • Starting Preset: Aquarius 1 from the retired Retro Rock-n-Roll Collection
  • Aquarius 1 as a one-click preset left my image a tad dark, so I used Exposure Brighten a Little from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection and Exposure Lighten Shadows, also from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection.
  • I then used Contrast a Little from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection.
  • Next, I moved on to brush work to fix some minor issues. First, I used the Skin Smooth brush from the Pretty Presets Portrait Brush set and went over all of her skin. Second, I used a Fix Magenta brush from the Pretty Preset Newborn Brush set and went over her feet as they were a bit red/purple in the original image. Then, I used a Fix Reds brush, also from the Pretty Preset Newborn Brush set, and went over her feet again to further negate the reds in that area. After that, I used a Lighten Shadows brush from the Graduated Filter Toolbox to lighten the shadows around her neck. Next, I used the Fix Reds brush again and went over her face a bit as the reds were a bit strong in the shadows of her face. For my final brush, I used the Reduce Shine brush from the Pretty Preset Portrait Brush set and went over the areas with a slight shine on her cheeks, forehead, and nose.
  • Following my brush work, I warmed the entire image slightly under the White Balance adjustment panel.
  • To finish this image up, I turned on Enable Profile Corrections under the Lens Correction adjustment panel, used Add Grain One from the Pretty Preset Fine Art Film Collection, and added blur to the bottom of the image using the Pretty Preset Blur Filters, which are included as a Bonus Set upon purchasing the Complete Collection of Pretty Presets.
Again, this edit took no more than five minutes.

This final edit of this image shows a black and white conversion that was very easy to achieve. The steps for this edit are as follows:

  • Starting Preset: Dusty B&W Film from the Make It Matte Collection
  • Dusty B&W Film as a one-click preset was quite lovely but I wanted to add a little more depth, so I used Contrast a Lot from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection.
  • Next, I moved on to brush work to fix some minor issues. First, I used the Skin Smooth brush from the Pretty Presets Portrait Brush set and went over all of her skin. After that, I used a Lighten Shadows brush from the Graduated Filter Toolbox to lighten the shadows around her neck. For my final brush, I used the Reduce Shine brush from the Pretty Preset Portrait Brush set and went over the areas with a slight shine on her cheeks, forehead, and nose.
  • To finish this image up, I turned on Enable Profile Corrections under the Lens Correction adjustment panel, used Add Grain One from the Pretty Preset Fine Art Film Collection, and added blur to the bottom and top of the image using the Pretty Preset Blur Filters, which are included as a Bonus Set upon purchasing the Complete Collection of Pretty Presets.
This edit took less than three minutes.  

Here we have another well exposed, unedited image on the left with the final, rich edit on the left. The steps for this edit are as follows:

  • Starting Preset: Color Riche from the Limited Edition Summer Collection
  • Color Riche as a one-click preset left my image a tad dark, so I used Exposure Brighten a Little from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection and Exposure Lighten Shadows, also from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection.
  • For my third step, I used Contrast a Little from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection.
  • Next, I moved on to brush work to fix some minor issues. First, I used the Skin Smooth brush from the Pretty Presets Portrait Brush set and went over all of her skin. After that, I used a Lighten Shadows brush from the Graduated Filter Toolbox to lighten the shadows around her neck and the sides of her face. Then I used the Fix Reds brush from the Pretty Preset Newborn Brush set and went over her face a bit as the reds were a bit strong in the shadows of her face. For my final brush, I used the Reduce Shine brush from the Pretty Preset Portrait Brush set and went over the areas with a slight shine on her cheeks, forehead, and nose.
  • Following my brush work, I used the spot healing tool to remove her most prominent blemishes, being sure to keep any freckles/beauty marks intact.
  • Following my spot healing work, I moved down to the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance adjustment panels. Here, I reduced the saturation of the oranges and reds slightly. I also moved the hues of the oranges and reds slightly to the right.
  • To finish this image up, I turned on Enable Profile Corrections under the Lens Correction adjustment panel, used Add Grain One from the Pretty Preset Fine Art Film Collection, and added blur to the bottom of the image using the Pretty Preset Blur Filters, which are included as a Bonus Set upon purchasing the Complete Collection of Pretty Presets.
From start to finish, this edit took about five minutes. 

Here is another variation on that same image, this time using a preset from the Make It Matte Collection as our base. The steps for this edit are as follows:
  • Starting Preset: Urban Dark from the Make It Matte Collection
  • Urban Dark as a one-click preset left my image a tad dark, so I used Exposure Brighten a Little from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection and Exposure Lighten Shadows, also from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection.
  • Next, I used Contrast a Little from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection.
  • Next, I moved on to brush work to fix some minor issues. First, I used the Skin Smooth brush from the Pretty Presets Portrait Brush set and went over all of her skin. After that, I used a Lighten Shadows brush from the Graduated Filter Toolbox to lighten the shadows around her neck and the sides of her face. Then I used the Fix Reds brush from the Pretty Preset Newborn Brush set and went over her face a bit as the reds were a bit strong in the shadows of her face. For my final brush, I used the Reduce Shine brush from the Pretty Preset Portrait Brush set and went over the areas with a slight shine on her cheeks, forehead, and nose.
  • Following my brush work, I used the spot healing tool to remove her most prominent blemishes, being sure to keep any freckles/beauty marks intact.
  • Following my spot healing work, I moved down to the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance adjustment panels. Here, I reduced the saturation of the oranges and reds slightly. I also moved the hues of the oranges and reds slightly to the right.
  • To finish this image up, I turned on Enable Profile Corrections under the Lens Correction adjustment panel, used Add Grain One from the Pretty Preset Fine Art Film Collection, and added blur to the bottom of the image using the Pretty Preset Blur Filters, which are included as a Bonus Set upon purchasing the Complete Collection of Pretty Presets.
This was another five minute edit. 

As a final example for this image, we'll use a black and white preset from the new Limited Edition Summer Collection as our base. The steps for this edit are as follows:
  • Starting Preset: Pretty Oynx from the new Limited Edition Summer Collection
  • Pretty Oynx as a one-click preset left my image a tad dark, so I used Exposure Brighten a Little from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection and Exposure Lighten Shadows, also from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection.
  • Next, I moved on to brush work to fix some minor issues. First, I used the Skin Smooth brush from the Pretty Presets Portrait Brush set and went over all of her skin. After that, I used a Lighten Shadows brush from the Graduated Filter Toolbox to lighten the shadows around her neck and the sides of her face. For my final brush, I used the Reduce Shine brush from the Pretty Preset Portrait Brush set and went over the areas with a slight shine on her cheeks, forehead, and nose.
  • Following my brush work, I used the spot healing tool to remove her most prominent blemishes, being sure to keep any freckles/beauty marks intact.
  • Following my spot healing work, I moved down to the Black and White Mixer adjustment panel. Here, I used the Black and White Mixer dropper tool and pulled the yellow, green, and aqua sliders a fair amount to the right. This lightened the tones of the leaves in the trees. If you wanted to darken the tones of the leaves in the trees, you could move those sliders in the opposite direction.
  • To finish this image up, I turned on Enable Profile Corrections under the Lens Correction adjustment panel, used Add Grain One from the Pretty Preset Fine Art Film Collection, and added blur to the bottom of the image using the Pretty Preset Blur Filters, which are included as a Bonus Set upon purchasing the Complete Collection of Pretty Presets.

This was a very easy edit, taking less than a few minutes. 

For our next example, we have a well exposed image of a woman with pale, pink skin. The final edit for this image is bold and vibrant and the steps are as follows:

  • Starting Preset: Color Riche II from the new Limited Edition Summer Collection
  • Color Riche II as a one-click preset left my image a tad dark, so I used Exposure Brighten a Little from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection.
  • Next, I used Contrast a Lot from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection. After using this preset, I realized I wanted even more contrast, so I manually adjusted the contrast to +97 and to compensate for the deepening of the blacks, I manually lightened the shadows to +29.
  • Now, some brushwork. First, I used the Skin Smooth brush from the Pretty Presets Portrait Brush set and went over all of her skin. Next, I used the Fix Reds brush from the Pretty Preset Newborn Brush set and reduced the red cast over her entire face. I then repeated this with the Fix Magenta Brush. As I was still having some issues with some redness on her chin, I used the Color Luxe Correct Red Skin brush and used this over her chin area. Next, I used the Simple Sharpen brush from the Pretty Presets Portrait Brush set and sharpened her eyes. For my final brush, I used the Color Luxe brushes Add Cyan and Add Green and enhanced the natural color of her eyes.
  • Following my brush work, I used the spot healing tool to remove any blemishes, being sure to keep any freckles/beauty marks intact.
  • To finish this image up, I turned on Enable Profile Corrections under the Lens Correction adjustment panel, used Add Grain One from the Pretty Preset Fine Art Film Collection, and added blur to the bottom of the image using the Pretty Preset Blur Filters, which are included as a Bonus Set upon purchasing the Complete Collection of Pretty Presets.

Because her skin caused some troublesome pink and red hues, this was a slightly longer edit, but still less than seven minutes from start to finish.

 

As a final example for this image, here we have an extremely easy black and white edit. The steps are as follows:

  • Starting Preset: Luxe Noir from the Fine Art Film Collection
  • Following my base preset, I added contrast using Contrast a Little from the Pretty Presets Workflow Collection. 
  • Next, I moved on to some brush work. First, I used the Skin Smooth brush from the Pretty Presets Portrait Brush set and went over all of her skin. Then, I used a sharpening brush and sharpened her eyes.
  • Following my brush work, I used the spot healing tool to remove any blemishes, being sure to keep any freckles/beauty marks intact.
  • To finish this image up, I turned on Enable Profile Corrections under the Lens Correction adjustment panel, used Add Grain One from the Pretty Preset Fine Art Film Collection, and added blur to the bottom of the image using the Pretty Preset Blur Filters, which are included as a Bonus Set upon purchasing the Complete Collection of Pretty Presets.

This edit took somewhere between three and five minutes. 

For my final example, again we have a well exposed base image of the same woman with pale, pink hued skin. The final edit is bright, colorful and airy.  

  • Starting Preset: Freesia from Color Luxe
  • For brushwork, I used the Fix Reds brush from the Pretty Preset Newborn Brush set and brushed it over the red area of her neck and chest.
  • To finish this image up, I turned on Enable Profile Corrections under the Lens Correction adjustment panel and used Add Grain One from the Pretty Preset Fine Art Film Collection.

This edit was under two minutes. 

We'll end with one of my favorite presets, a black and white preset from the Pretty Pastels Collection.

  • Starting Preset: Matte B&W from the Pretty Pastels Collection
  • To finish this image up, I turned on Enable Profile Corrections under the Lens Correction adjustment panel and used Add Grain One from the Pretty Preset Fine Art Film Collection.

This edit was under a minute.

 

I hope this blog post gave you a bit of an in-depth look at how I use the various products from Pretty Presets to create gorgeous, polished images. What presets, brushes, or filters do you have trouble with? Comment below and I might just use them for next week's edition of Editing Recipes with Pretty Presets!

My name is Jesse Blake and I am a photographer based out of Billings, Montana. I believe life as a photographer is about finding and celebrating the good in the world, in ourselves, and in others. Find me on Facebook or visit my website. Let's be friends.  Follow me on Facebook and visit my website.

 

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