Color Efex Pro is a tool both seasoned and beginning photographers should know about as it’s been one of the most popular photo editors for well over a decade. Many consider it to be the flagship of the Nik Collection.

Photo editors with dozens of adjustments and filters can be a bit overwhelming. But the truth is that you rarely need to use them all. Most photographers find a handful of filters they like and, quite often, apply them with similar settings for most images.

That’s where presets come in handy. These are sets of pre-defined adjustments that can be applied to your photos with just a few clicks, saving you time and effort.

In this article, we’ll explore how to make and use presets in Color Efex Pro, so you can streamline your photo editing workflow and produce stunning images in no time.

First time hearing about Color Efex Pro? Then make sure to read our in-depth review first!

What are Presets in Color Efex Pro?

Presets in Color Efex Pro are collections of pre-made settings and adjustments that you can apply to your photos in order to achieve specific looks or effects. These settings include adjustments such as brightness, contrast, saturation, and color temperature, as well as more advanced effects such as vignetting, light bleed, and selective color adjustments.

In Color Efex Pro you have the option to either use one of the 39 included presets, your custom-made ones, or those you have imported. You might be familiar with this from Adobe Lightroom and, while there are some differences, it works similarly in this photo editor too.

The main advantage of using presets is that it quickly allows you to apply specific settings to your photos without having to manually adjust each individual parameter. This comes in handy if you, for example, have a finishing look you like to apply to your images.

It’s important to know that you can make further adjustments after applying the preset. That means that you’re not “locked” to only using the settings it comes with.

How to Make a Preset in Color Efex Pro

Making a preset in Color Efex Pro is quite straightforward. All you need to do is follow these simple steps:

  1. Open the image you want to edit in Color Efex Pro
  2. Apply the filters and adjustments you want to include in your preset
  3. Click on the “Save Preset” button at the bottom of the right-hand panel
  4. Give your preset a name and click “Save”

Note: Check the “Save With Control Points” box if you want to save the preset with a mask. This is something you want to avoid for most presets but it can come in handy in certain situations.

The preset is now saved and can be accessed at any time by selecting it from the “Custom” menu in the left-side panel.

Create Presets in Color Efex Pro
Save Your Preset

Tips for Creating Effective Presets

There are a few things to keep in mind when creating presets in Color Efex Pro if you want to ensure they are effective and easy to use:

Start with a clean slate: Before making any adjustments, reset all of the settings in the panel to their default values. This will ensure that your preset starts with a consistent baseline and will work well with a variety of images.

Keep it simple: When making adjustments for your preset, try to keep it simple and focus on a few key adjustments that will have the biggest impact on the image. Too many adjustments can make the preset overwhelming and difficult to use. It’s better to create multiple presets focusing on different effects (i.e., create one preset for contrast adjustments, one for a vignette, and one for creative color looks)

Test it out: Once you’ve created your preset, test it out on a variety of images to make sure it works well with different types of photos. Make any necessary adjustments and then save the updated preset.

Update Presets in Color Efex Pro

By following those simple tips every time you make a new preset, you’ll make sure that it’s easy to use on any new image in the future. Just keep in mind that each photo is different so you might need to refine the adjustments for the individual photos.

How to Import a Preset to Color Efex Pro

Importing presets to Color Efex Pro is a quick and easy process that can be completed in just a few steps.

First, locate the preset file that you want to import (for example “vignette.json”) This may be a file that you’ve downloaded from the internet or one that you’ve created yourself.

Next, open Color Efex Pro and navigate to the “Imported” tab. Click the up/down arrow and select “Import Preset”. In the window that opens, locate and select the preset file that you want to import, and then click “Open.”

Import Presets in Color Efex Pro

The preset will now be available in the “Import” section of the Presets tab, where you can apply it to your images and adjust its settings to achieve the desired effect.

Tips for Using Presets Effectively

Using a preset in Color Efex Pro is quite easy but actually taking advantage of them might require a little more thought. You see, while presets are an easy way to quickly apply creative looks to your photos, they’re rarely “perfect” straight out of the box.

That’s why customizing the preset is the first thing you should do after applying it. Most images actually benefit from you making additional adjustments to the settings. The preset is just a starting point; you still need to fine-tune the settings for it to fit your image.

Apply Your Preset

Also, don’t be afraid to use multiple presets. You can apply as many presets as you want to an image. Don’t feel like you have to stick with just one. For example, I have presets for everything from “Cold Shadows” to “Smart Exposure” or “Darken Foreground”. Each preset is simply a part of a bigger process.

That brings me to my final advice for using presets: save more of them! If you find yourself making the same adjustments over and over again, create your own presets to save time in the future. This is especially true for adjustments that require multiple filters or tools.


Presets are a powerful tool in Color Efex Pro that can save you time and effort in your editing workflow. By creating and using presets, you can quickly apply a specific look or effect to your images, without having to manually adjust each individual parameter.

On the fence about whether or not Color Efex Pro is for you? Take advantage of the Nik Collection’s free 30-day trial that gives full access to all the plugins.