Nik Software – Presets

With the introduction of Color Efex Pro 4

Presets are now part of

Silver, HDR, & Color Efex Pro current releases

Nik introduced Presets with the original Silver Efex Pro in 2008. Presets next appeared in the initial release of HDR Efex Pro in 2010. Here it is, 2011, and they now are part of CEP4’s new feature set.
What is a Preset?
A Preset is a single-click starting point making it possible to explore creative options quickly.
Click images to enlarge to readable size.

I will use CEP4 to illustrate presets. They are much the same in both SEP2 & HEP.

The main difference is that

  1. SEP & HEP presets are at the overall program level
  2. CEP4 presets are at the filter level
  3. There are no “filters” in SEP & HEP; imagine that the entire SEP/HEP program is one big filter to make the mental connection between CEP4’s presets & these other two.



Accessing Presets
No special action is needed in SEP2 & HEP to access them, they are automatically in the left sidebar. You have no other choice.
CEP4’s default is to display individual filters as shown here ( if you click on a filter at this point, its “default preset” is used) –

but see what happens if the cursor is hovered over a filter in the list; a little symbol appears in the right margin

Click on the symbol and voila – the presets appear and replace the list

To repeat, each CEP4 filter’s default is the top preset in the list and

If you select a filter other than via this preset route, that default will be used.

Using a Preset
Once you select a preset in any of the three programs, there is no real difference in their use. After selection, you proceed by adjusting program controls to suit your taste – it’s just that the actual controls offered by each program differ.

  1. The visuals give you ideas of what’s possible.
  2. You can use them as is or make adjustments via the controls in the right sidebar.
  3. It’s important to note that every control in the right sidebar is what has been set via the preset.
  4. #3 makes the presets a great learning tool. It’s guaranteed that you will see a visual at some point that makes you wonder “How did they do that?”. Click on it and take a close look at the right sidebar’s controls (I say close because the answer is always there but it may not be obvious.)
  1. An example of “looking closely” – Try the SEP2 Grad ND preset and see if you can find out how the sky was darkened.
  2. Unless you dig down into the Finishing Touches section, and then explore Burn Edges, and finally look at the Top Edge option you will never know.

That’s all there is to using presets. It’s just a convenience & not rocket science.
Custom Presets
SEP2 & HEP both allow you to save settings that you’ve created as a custom preset.

You can’t do the same in CEP4. The presets are “hard-wired” into the program’s filters and can’t be added to, deleted or altered.

However, CEP4 does allow you to create & save something called a Recipe – which is a collection of filters together with their settings.

A CEP4 Recipe can be used to create something similar to to the SEP2/HEP custom preset – identical in terms of function.

A Recipe made up of a single filter is no different than a preset in SEP2/HEP

NOTE – For good reason, Presets (& Recipes) do not save any control points you may have used.

CP’s are completely unique to a specific image. If you save one, placed on a bride’s face, it will be nothing but trouble when used on the next image – the church.

If you create a preset/recipe that absolutely depends on CP’s then it is probably a poor candidate for saving (unless you keep good notes 😉 ) – which is why imported recipes/presets may not work well for you

There is a “hidden” CEP4 trick to save CP’s (read here to find it)

Click on the star next to a preset (recipe) name. When the star changes from white to a color, it is now one of your favorites and will appear when you select the Favorites Category.
Notes for CEP4-

The Nik Selective Tool, which provides access to Nik Plug-ins (from within PS at least), has changed its CEP4 display from CEP3

CEP3 showed all of the CEP3 filters (and no recipes since there were none)

CEP4 shows both recipes & filters – BUT – only those you’ve made favorites

If you just choose CEP4 from the Selective Tool (not a filter or recipe) the most recent used filter will be selected as the starting point

Used means the last filter used when CEP4 wasn’t closed via the Cancel option

If you hover the mouse over a custom preset in HEP/SEP2 you will see options to delete, update, and export that preset. This is only for custom, not standard program presets
There is no similar CEP4 feature for presets – recall that CEP4 has no custom presets.

However, the is a similar feature for CEP4 Recipes – but just recipes in CEP4’s Custom & Imported recipe categories.

Try it out.

Shown at the bottom of the screen capture are two buttons –

  1. One to add a new preset
  2. One to Import (downloaded/saved) presets (available from Nik or from friends)
  3. The same options are in all three programs – maybe slightly different in location. For example, in CEP4 you must use the Save Recipe option that is part of the filter stack in the right sidebar (read about a filter’s anatomy here)

This gives you more than enough to move out on your own. With just a little experimentation you’ll be a pro.
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