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Get more creative with presets & textures

February 13

8 min. to read

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Here's how to properly use textures and presets to get the best results in Aurora HDR.

If you’ve ever opened an app from Skylum before, you know that many of them come pre-loaded with a treasure chest full of presets to show you the power and versatility of each application. Aurora HDR Pro is no different. Out of the box it comes with over 60 Presets including some unique originals from Trey Ratcliff, the HDR Master himself. You also have the option to get many more from the Skylum Store.

You might be wondering, though, how do you import these new presets from the industry pros, and how can I create and save/share my own? Well, the process is actually quite simple! First we’ll explain the process of creating, modifying, and saving your own presets.

Once you’ve loaded an image into Aurora, make edits using the Adjust panel on the right side of your window. To keep these settings as a preset for you to use later or to share you simply have to click the + button next to the Presets field. This will prompt you to save your settings and assign a name to it.One-click Ways to Import Presets and Textures for Extra HDR Creativity

Type in your new Preset name and click Create New Preset. It will be automatically added to the USER PRESETS category of the Presets panel and available for use on any other images you work on with Aurora.One-click Ways to Import Presets and Textures for Extra HDR Creativity (2) But wait! What If you made a mistake or want to make changes to the preset? Maybe adding some Denoise or a little Glow? You can actually update your preset by first making your changes in the Adjust toolbar and then right-clicking on the preset. Then select “Update with Current Settings”. This will save your adjustments to the original preset.

One-click Ways to Import Presets and Textures for Extra HDR Creativity (3)

By using the same Right-click menu on a preset, you can also Rename your preset (in case you made a spelling mistake or want to make a change), Delete to remove completely, Export it (to save as a file that you can share with others), and Show in the Finder. The latter reveal the location in the Mac Finder.One-click Ways to Import Presets and Textures for Extra HDR Creativity (4)If you’ve downloaded a bundle of presets from Skylum or one of our partners, adding them to your library is super easy! Open the FILE menu from Aurora HDR and scroll down to “Add Custom Presets Pack” and then just select the presets file you’ve downloaded! They’ll immediately be copied to your Aurora HDR Presets Folder and added to your Presets menu to bring you even more creativity to your HDR workflow!

The next amazing feature of Aurora HDR Pro is the ability to import texture files to use as layers and overlays in your images. What is a texture? They are digital images representing a surface, a material, a pattern or even another picture, that can be used to give an ordinary image more of an artistic edge.

Download some free textures from Skylum. Some examples of texture files), are concrete, floorboards, frost on a window, rusted metal, or even something as plain as a sheet of paper! You can take these “texture” files and then cycle through the Blend Modes to see and choose a new and unique transparency view. Choose the blend mode and opacity that works best for your creative direction!

How do you import and use a texture?

Well, once you’ve created your HDR image with Aurora, add a new layer using the + button and name it.

How do you import and use a texture?

From there, right-click on the layer and select Source Image > Custom Texture.

How do you import and use a texture?(2)

Now you navigate to where you have some texture files stored on your computer, and select the one you want to create your catching masterpiece!How do you import and use a texture?(3)How do you import and use a texture?(4)

This is where Textures differ from Presets with Aurora. Presets live within Aurora’s folder and file structure, whereas Textures are only loaded into the app on a per use basis! Why? Well texture files are images, and as such, can be very large! Including them in the installation and application folders would cause serious bloat! Even if the files are smaller, they can still bog down the installation folder. This is why it’s up to you to keep your files wherever you like and load them into your images as needed!How do you import and use a texture?(5)

BONUS INFORMATION: Blend Modes Revealed

Aurora HDR Pro comes with 8 ways to blend your layers, each of which can be ultra-fun.

  1. Normal blend modes will display your image exactly as it was shot.
  2. Overlay combines Multiply and Screen blend modes where light become lighter, dark becomes darker.
  3. Hard Light combines Multiply and Screen blend modes but with the bottom and top images & behavior swapped.
  4. Soft Light blend mode is a softer version of Hard Light.
  5. Screen inverts both layers, multiplies them and inverts that result.
  6. Multiply simply multiplies each component in the two layers.
  7. Color (or color burn) divides the inverted bottom layer by the top layer, and then inverts the results. This darkens the top layer, increasing contrast to reflect the colors of the bottom layer.
  8. Luminosity preserves the hue and chroma of the bottom layer while adopting the lumo of the top layer.

Depending on the color and type of texture file you use, and the colors of the image below it, the blend modes will have VERY different results! Mix and match them in your own images to see what you get and be sure to share them with us on the Aurora HDR Facebook Group!

One final tip: Don’t forget that you can also change the opacity as well as mask your textures & layers to do creative and selective edits to your images. Talk about maximum creativity!

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Written by

Team Skylum


Our team of passionate photography enthusiasts at Skylum has been committed to assisting you in discovering the world through your lens for over a decade. We're dedicated to providing photographers like you with easy-to-use tools and valuable resources to help you capture your vision and produce beautiful photos. Our articles are filled with friendly tips, industry insights, and inspiring stories from other creative individuals in photography. Together, we can help you grow your photography skills to new heights. Join us on this exciting journey of exploration, creativity, and growth.

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