DxO FilmPack

Using DxO FilmPack 5 (Elite edition) Designer presets to give a touch of poetry to your photos

In collaboration with Gilles Theophile

DxO FilmPack 5 offers you a wide choice of creative renderings, based not only on analog film simulations, but also making use of a certain number of tools that can let you give a unique look to your images.

In this tutorial, we will look closely at certain Designer presets that have been created to add a poetic note to our images. We will see what tools have been used to develop these presets, how to change them to suit your tastes and then combine them, and then, to finish, how to create your own custom preset from these Designer presets.


This tutorial focuses on the use of the Elite edition because of the presets chosen and their associated tools.

To follow this tutorial, you will need:

  • DxO FilmPack 5 Essential or Elite* edition, depending on the Designer presets
  • A RAW*, DNG*, TIFF or JPEG image

1- The Designer presets

What is a designer preset?

DxO FilmPack is an image-processing program whose principal function is to simulate analog film renderings, either by letting you apply ready-made presets, or by using many tools to apply and modify these simulations.

DxO FilmPack 5 comes with about 40 “Designer” presets (Elite edition) whose goal is to change the the aestheic aspect and atmosphere of your images in more or less creative ways.

The designer presets in the Presets panel

Their use is very simple: all you have to do is click on the preset thumbnail for it to be applied to the image. Of course, so long as you don’t save the image, you can still change the preset, and even change it by using the application tools.

2- Focusing on the Poetic and Dreamy designer preset

A touch of poetry?

We have selected here two presets in particular from among those that are suitable for this tutorial: Poetic and Dreamy.

We will see which tools and settings lie behind these presets, and we will also create a custom preset to give a dreamy touch to your images.

General information

To easily find the presets that we are going to look at in some depth, you can search for them by name, or filter by category, and then put them into your “favorites” by clicking on the star below on the right of each preset thumbnail.

Searching and filtering the presets

When you apply a preset to an image, an informative icon appears under each thumbnail  . After you click on the icon, an explanatory note appears in a window to the right of the interface.


The Poetry preset is ideal for portraits, with the following characteristics:

  • More or less surreal colors, depending on the subjects.
  • Fairly marked granulation.

Image after applying the Poetic designer

After having applied the preset to the image, let’s go look at the settings in the Controls panel to see which tools are at the basis of this of this preset.

To do so, click on the third button in the upper command bar, Modify > Modify image settings.

The Poetic preset is composed as follows:

  • Film type: Redscale lomography 100.
  • Grain: Redscale lomography 100, intensity 100, 24×36 format.
  • Exposure: 0.3.
  • Saturation: –39.
  • HSL canal: All.
  • Saturation HSL saturation: 38.
  • Creative vignetting intensity: -15.

The choice of film provides colors that drift into yellow and red, with a noticeable but not coarse grain. The preset slightly overexposes the image by 0.3 IL in order to make it shine a bit, and the slightly dark vignetting accentuates the overall vignetting effect by drawing the viewer’s attention toward the center of the photo.

As for colors, you might think at first that the overall saturation setting (–37) compensates for that of the HSL tool (38), and that the two cancel each other out. But in fact, the first reduces the overall intensity of the colors, and the second livens up the colors in a selective way.

So thanks to these very subtle settings based on a very particular film rendering, we can achieve an image that is completely different from the original.


The Dreamy information card accentuates its romantic aspect:

  • An intense blur effect.
  • Strong filtering to achieve an ethereal blur.

Image after applying the Dreamy Designer preset

The Dreamy presets combines many more settings than the Poetic preset, with the following parameters:

  • Film type: Agfa Precisa 100.
  • Grain: Agfa Precisa 100, intensity 100, 24×36 format.
  • Exposure: 0.5.
  • Saturation: –20.
  • Vibrancy: –23.
  • Contrast: –40.
  • Creative vignetting: Intensity 15 and roundness 22.
  • Blur vignetting: Intensity 10, radius 68, transition 31, roundness 23.

Agfa Precisa 100 film serves as a basis for the Dreamy preset, and is a reversal film characterized by a neutral rendering, a fine grain, and pure colors.

Setting the exposure to be brighter and the contrast to be more pronounced lets us soften the image and to bring out its lighter side. Setting the colors with negative values also has the same tendency to flatten the liveliness and to deaccentuate the difference between the colors.

The vignetting effects create a sort of wispiness along the edges and draw attention to the subject in the center of the image, all while giving the impression of the edges falling away, a bit like the dreams that we try to remember upon awakening.

3- Creating a custom poetic or dreamy preset

Changing a preset

The two presets that we have chosen to highlight in the previous paragraph can be applied as is, but you can also:

  • Change the settings on the fly, after applying the presets.
  • Change the settings, then save them as a new custom rendering.

For example, you can create a “Dreamy 2” preset by replacing the Blur vignetting by Softfocus, which simulates the effect of a lens covered with fog.

To create and then save a modified preset:

  • Apply the preset of your choice.
  • Modify the settings and processes to suit your tastes.
  • Right-click on an image, and select Save settings.
  • Your new preset is now available in My presets, in the preset filter. 

Create a dreamy preset

We will finish this tutorial by showing you how to create a custom preset that we will call “Dreamlike”:

  • Open an image in DxO FilmPack 5.
  • In the collection of presets, use the search tool to look for the Fuji Superia Reala 100 film because of its finesse, softness, and natural look.
  • In the command bar, click on Modify > Modify image settings.
  • In the Development section, go to Light and color and set the Vibrancy between –50 and –70 to soften the colors and to create a cool rendering (or do the opposite to create a warmer rendering).
  • In the Development section, go to Contrast and set the Contrast slider to around –30, which will let your flatten the image a bit more.
  • In the Blur section in Optical effects, activate the Soft Focus and set the Intensity slider between 30 and 50, depending on your image and your intentions. Your image will be adorned with a very aesthetic and soft blur, a bit as if you were looking at it through slightly fogged glass. You can increase the blurry aspect by moving the Diffusion slider toward the left, between 30 and 40.
  • To finish up, we will brighten the image edges by going to the Optical effects section and by moving the Intensity slider for the Creative vignetting tool to the right, so as to ensure that the edges of the images are softened or blurry (you can apply a darker vignetting if your image is darker overall).
  • Save the preset by right-clicking on the image, and then by selecting Save settings in the floating menu. Then in the sliding dialog box at the top, enter the name of the new preset: Dreamlike (or some other name that you prefer).
  • You can find the Dreamlike preset using the search tool or by filtering the presets panel for the presets previously used.

Of course, these settings are given just as an example, and you can create as many variations as you want, or simply develop your own ideas and settings.

Photo credit: Benoît Courti