New Lightroom 2 Presets: Focus Beauty Builder

Focus Beauty Builder

Something new – a Lightroom preset you can use to build other presets! This is a radical new concept in how we think about develop presets in Lightroom. This system is based on the commonly accepted “Golden Rule of Thirds” that will help you to produce better photographs within Lightroom.

I’ve included a number of sample presets which show you just how powerful and flexible this system is. It is designed for Professionals who want to develop the best photos in the least amount of time. Also, serious amateurs will love the practically unlimited combination of presets you can build – once you understand the system. There’s a wealth of information and samples on the following page.

What is Focus Beauty Builder?

Well it’s not like any other Lightroom preset you’ve ever seen before. It makes a leap forward in how we think of using presets in Lightroom. Focus Beauty is a tool that allows you to quickly build professional grade Lightroom presets – in essence, it is a preset used to build presets!

Rule of Thirds Grid

The concept behind Focus Beauty is the important principle of the “Golden Rule of Thirds“. Have a look at the grid on the left. It takes an imaginary photo and divides it into a sectional grid, three by three. As a general rule, subjects placed in one of the areas where the grid lines intersect, or line up with one of the lines, (horizon for example) are known to make the photo more pleasing to the eye. History has shown that the best artistic works have followed, and are in fact – the founding basis of this principle.

Focus Beauty takes this one step further by providing you a tool to build on this principle. By judiciously using the localized adjustment tools in Lightroom you can further enhance and draw your viewer’s attention into these “Golden” sections of your photo. After coming up with the concept, I started playing with the core preset and discovered that it has great potential in building a variety of other Lightroom presets.

The Core Presets

Basically, there are 5 core presets (all based on the first one).

  • Focus – Center
  • Focus – Top Left
  • Focus – Top Right
  • Focus – Bottom Left
  • Focus – Bottom Right

and additionally 6 modifying presets, one of which can be stacked on top of the core preset.

  • Focus – Enhancer White (+1)
  • Focus – Enhancer White (+2)
  • Focus – Enhancer White (+3)
  • Focus – Enhancer Black (+1)
  • Focus – Enhancer Black (+2)
  • Focus – Enhancer Black (+3)

After having built the core presets, I had to develop some sample presets because the core presets don’t do anything by themselves. They are a template to be used in the building of other presets. So here’s a small sampling of presets I’ve already built with FBB.

Focus Beauty Sample Presets

Just a quick note to these samples. All images shown here are generated entirely in Lightroom 2.1. Nothing was modified or enhanced in Photoshop. All sample presets demonstrated here were created with Focus Beauty Builder (FBB) and are included in the collection available for download.

Original Photo Focus Beauty Builder

Based on BW-Color (Center) + Enhancer White (+2)

In this example we see the use of the BW-Color preset to isolate or Focus on this little girl’s face. The Enhancer White preset was stacked on top to give the white border effect.

Original Photo Focus Beauty Builder

BW-Color (Center) + Enhancer Black (+1)

A simple application (without modification) of the BW-Color preset. Combined with the Enhancer Black preset gives this image a unique look. This sort of look is not normally possible with Lightroom.

Original Photo Focus Beauty Builder

Based on Isolation (Center) + Enhancer Black (+1)

In this example we see the use of the Isolation preset. Built into the Isolation preset is a bit of background blurring to enhance the effect. The Enhancer Black preset was stacked on top to give the black border effect.

Original Photo Focus Beauty Builder

Based on Isolation (TR – Top Right)

This effect is created using the Isolation (TR) preset. It was modified slightly to better match the positioning of the flowers. This is a relatively easy task that is outlined below. This sort of effect is well suited to WEB design or Ad copy layout where you’d like a strong foreground element but require a muted background for text.

Original Photo Focus Beauty Builder

Ring of Color (BL – Bottom Left)

In this sample, I wanted to show the flexibility of the preset builder. Here you see the blending of colors in different areas of the photo combined with B&W and sharpness effects. Another wild example of this technique can be seen in the Alien effect further down.

Original Photo Focus Beauty Builder

Based on Soft Focus (Center)

Naturally there has to be a preset for giving the dreamy, glamor look. You can’t see it in these thumbnails but the eyes are sharply in focus while the remainder of the photo gets that soft look treatment.

Original Photo Focus Beauty Builder

Based on Color Strip (Center)

Want to have just the middle of the photo in color – no problem. Naturally, simple landscape effects (dark sky, colored sky) are also very easy to do.

Original Photo Focus Beauty Builder

Based on BW-Color SOFT (BL – Bottom Left)

Another use of the BW-Color in the lower left of a photo. The additional parameters can be fine-tuned to match the photo.

Original Photo Focus Beauty Builder

Soft Focus (TR – Top Right)

Another example using the Soft Focus preset. You’ll also notice I took advantage of the fact that I already had a couple of adjustment filters in place and darkened up a couple of trouble spots. The net result gives the photo much more appeal.

Original Photo Focus Beauty Builder

Isolation (Center) + Enhancer White (+3)

Here the Isolation preset brings focus to the middle of the flower while throwing the rest of the photo into a darkened soft focus effect. The Enhancer White preset was stacked on top to achieve the white border.

Original Photo Focus Beauty Builder

BW-Color HC (High Contrast)

This is definitely one of my favorites! Using the BW-Color HC or High Contrast preset makes for a striking effect. Keep in mind, if you really wanted to punch up the color in the flower you can dial up the Vibrancy and Saturation of the photo. The rest of the photo will maintain the high contrast B&W look.

Original Photo Focus Beauty Builder

Alien Hangover

I had a lot of fun coming up with this preset. I took the base preset (Focus – Center) and played with the sliders in each quadrant of the preset. I didn’t touch Exposure and Brightness so I wouldn’t get any bright or dark patches. Once parameters were set, I tweaked and fine-tuned, flipped gradients and lots more to come up with this preset. I’ve tested it on a lot of photos and in at least 75% of the ones tested, came up with some amazing results. It’s another example of the wide variety of presets you can dream up with Focus Beauty Builder!

Instructional Videos

In order to get the full benefit of this preset you should watch one or both of the following videos. They will show you how to install the presets (for those who don’t already know) and offer important tips for working with Focus Beauty Builder.

  • Installing Presets in Lightroom 2 – this is for those people that haven’t done this before. It also gives you some tips for preset folder management and backing up your presets.
  • Advanced Graduated Filter in Lightroom 2 – this video shows advanced tips on using the graduated filter and color picker. I’ve had people comment on this site that they thought they knew everything about the graduated filter – but even they learned a few things. (highly recommended viewing to those wanting to build presets with Focus Beauty Builder)

Tips for using Focus Beauty Builder

Some people are going to be happy just using the sample presets that I’ve built (that’s cool). I will be building more as time permits. For those of you who want to work with the FBB to build new presets – this is the section for you.

The basic premise of this preset is simple – you have a subject in your photograph that you’d like to emphasize in some fashion. For some this means throwing a portion of the photo out of focus, darkening the background/foreground, the possibilities are endless. With the Focus Beauty Presets you can achieve an unlimited number of possibilities to achieve that goal.

Here’s some general usage tips.

  • Should you find yourself not able to select a given pin, temporarily select a different pin and then select the pin you want to modify.
  • When expanding the range of the gradient, hold down the ALT key so that the center of the pin does not move.
  • When modifying a given preset, select the preset that most closely matches the location of the subject in your photo.
  • Grab the center of the pin and drag it away or towards your subject.
  • When you save your new preset make sure you have only the Graduated Filters box checked (all others should be off)
  • I find it works best when you work the corners or the flat edges then switch to the other group – this way you won’t run into pins you can’t select.

Special Limited Time Offer

As you can imagine I have invested a considerable amount of time in developing my concept into the form you see here. I am making the Focus Beauty Builder collection available for download for a limited time – for free!

Two things I ask for in return is that you do not upload this collection to another site offering presets for download. You may freely include this (link) in your own WEB site or Blog that will give others the opportunity to download it here.

I would also ask that anyone who uses this preset (or one of the many samples) comes back and writes a comment here telling us about your experiences with it’s use. If you end up building your own presets based on this one, why not share it with others by providing a link to the new preset. I fully intend on building more sample presets based on the comments I receive here on this site – so don’t be shy, let’s hear your ideas and comments.

Focus Beauty allows you to enhance your photos by bringing Focus to your subject matter.

Download Here

Here’s what’s included in the Focus Beauty Builder collection;

  • Core Presets – 5 (Center, Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right)
  • Enhancer Presets – 3 each of Black & White in steps of +1,+2,+3
  • All Reset Preset – so you can back out all your changes
  • Sample Presets – 28 including the following;
    1. Isolation Presets (Center, Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right)
    2. Soft Focus Presets (Center, Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right)
    3. BW-Color Presets (Center, Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right)
    4. BW-Color SOFT Presets (Center, Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right)
    5. BW-Hi-Contrast Presets (Center, Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right)
    6. Color Ring (Bottom Left – Sample)
    7. Color Stripe (Center – Sample)
    8. Alien Hangover – just for fun
The Collection

Screen Shot of Focus Beauty Presets

Here’s a screen shot showing all the presets in Lightroom and another sample photo produced with the BW-Hi-Contrast preset. This shot took less than 2 minutes to complete in Lightroom (position pins, drop exposure down 1.75 stops on ONE slider).

By clicking on the following link you agree that you will not upload this preset to other sites or host it on your own site (a link to this site is however encouraged). Focus Beauty Builder (FBB) collection cannot be sold or offered for sale. Naturally, presets you build with FBB can be freely distributed as you wish. Since it is being offered for free, I do expect you to mention or link to this site!


Download Focus Beauty Builder Collection

Collection:  Focus Beauty Collection
Version:  1.0
Updated:  23. November 2008
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Have fun!

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