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How to create amazing color LUT / Lookup Tables in Photoshop Tutorial

How to create a color LUT / color lookup table in Photoshop tutorial for CC 2017 2015 etc

Start point for Color LUTS

how to create color LUT color lookups in Photoshop original

Color LUTS are a useful color manipulation tool in Photoshop (and other apps). Photoshop includes a number of color LUTs for use with the color lookup adjustment in the image menu. The color LUT or color lookup tables for Photoshop include many color LUTs such as Fuji, Kodak Color LUTS as well as surreal color LUTs and color specific color LUTs such as turning an image green and red. Color LUTS or color lookup tables can be created in Photoshop and exported in a number of formats by using adjustment layers. The color LUTs/ color lookup tables can then be loaded in the adjustment color lookup and used to manipulate all kinds of images. This tutorial is a guide to how to create a color LUT / color lookup table and how to use it to create an unique color to all your images.



A quick guide to creating a color LUT in Photoshop for use in Photoshop, and is a great source for all kinds of super colorful designs. There is a vast amount of literature on the color theory and color grading and setting up LUTs in a variety of applications but this is a tutorial showing the basic creation of a LUT and the application of a LUT as well as creating tools for more abstract purposes than perhaps matching up film footage / photos etc. You can use the color LUTS for all kinds of visual effects as well as a more standard use of the tool. You can use the LUTs in Photoshop via the image menu and adjustments (and color lookup adjustment) as well as via the layer menu and adjustments.


The key thing is adjustments and layers and that is what is needed to create one.


black darken color lut lookup table photoshopIf you go to the file menu and export command (if you are using a fairly recent version of PS and have the correct requirements for the use of the tool) you will see the option to export a number of file formats such as 3DL and CUBE and CSP and ICC profile (again, not going to go into those formats and they all have their uses for different types of operation) as well as a quality - you want to keep it as high as possible but you can also use a low quality to create some oddball abstract artwork. All really depends on the underlying image as well, some work well with the results and some, well they will be just a mess (such as in trials with gradients I found there were quite a few variant results with subtle changes of gradient and color lookup).


Right is the original image which will be combined by a number of example LUTs


Adjustment layers and color LUTS

You can use one adjustment layer on top of a test image or multiple adjustment layers but you must have one to be able to create the files to be used in future projects. The type of image to use, well, I guess it helps if the picture is not all a solid color and is roughly similar to the image you want to work with.


Photoshop comes with a large selection of useful presets for the adjustment 'color lookup' but not all are the same on the PC and MAC, so you will see some in the list on one platform and not on the other and vica versa (for whatever technical reason).


You can create some interesting color effects by using such as the bleach bypass or blue tone etc but again, really depends on the underlying picture to that actual results generated.


The adjustment layers can be any of the adjustment layers (sadly, not all the adjustments in PS are available as adjustment layers such as match color which would have been useful here).


The adjustment layers include

1) black and white (useful)

2) invert (fairly limited but of use)

3) exposure

4) hue and saturation

red color lookup photoshop lut adjustment layers5) photo filter

6) color lookup (you can use one to create a new one, why not).


7) You can now just add the adjustments to an existing image.


8) file menu and export and color lookup and set the formats and quality and the copyright and description


Left, you can see one generated based on the black and white layer and then blended using the darken blending mode.


The one on the right was created using a combination of vibrance and hue and saturation with the colorize set to red and a high setting for the lightness.

Extra twists such as blending modes and layer styles

You can add two or three of the same adjustment layers (why not) and you can also mix in opacity via the layers panel and also different blending modes (such as hard mix or hard light or difference) as well as other modifications to the layer (it is a layer in exactly the same way as a normal layer and can have all kinds of extra twists such as gradient overlays and satin to change the adjustment).


darken color lookup LUT create in Photoshopoverlay color lookup ltAnd all those changes will be reflected in the actual color lookup generated (not perhaps the best way to generate gradient overlays for use in other apps without the need for layer styles but it does seem to work in a garish way).


Dark style added via black and white and blending mode and vibrance combined - you can see the result in the left image


Right, a gradient overlay was added to a layer and then that was exported as a CSP etc file via the export command color lookup


Other layers

metallic color lookup LUT in Photoshop Weirdly, the export also can use other layers and not just adjustments so if you create a new layer and then fill that with a gradient or pattern or brush strokes, that also can be used as a color lookup - so much for the warning message about adjustment layers. The image below uses a pattern layer made up of black and gradient color lookup lut create photoshopwhite scratches and lines (again, slightly blurred to reduce the file size) but the end result is more like the chrome filter found in the filter gallery.


Or using a combinations of gradients to a layer (and that is the key thing) though the actual result can definitely depend on the underlying image and how everything maps out.


Garish colors and Color LUT and create in Photoshop for some extreme colors

mapYou can use all kinds of manipulation of the adjustment layers (especially combining with gradients in layer styles) or by using the gradient maps but you can also use that in combination with other layers to create even more extremes of color.


color psych color lut extreme gradient createYou can create 1000s of different gradients using combinations of stops such as creating ones made of red green red green red etc as well as perhaps red, green, blue, white, red, green, blue etc. You can also find 32,000 different gradients via the graphicxtras site and these are all in standard GRD format for use with the adjustment 'gradient map'


Example left using a single gradient map with one of the default presets


Right, using a map with a lot more stops (26 stops added instead of just two or three as above)



Subtle adjustments and Color LUT

subtle color LUT lookup creat photoshopYou can use the color lookups to create some truly garish color shifts but you can also use it create more subtle changes such as minute changes to the red or perhaps a very light gradient change.


This depends on the adjustments you use such as hue and saturation or vibrance and very slight changes to those, especially combined with a lowering of the opacity


Generated color LUT files and using them in Photoshop

red lowThe various color lookup files generated such as CSP can be pretty large, 10MB for a fairly average sized file and using the default setting, likewise the cube is about the same with the 3DL a little smaller and ICC running in at about 2MB in my runs.


The color lookup created LUTs can be used to create some weird out of world painted looks especially when combined with other effects such as oil paint filter (on the right)


When you come to run the color lookup, select the first item in the panel and load the file (the others are abstract and device link and seem to generate a warning message with the generated files or perhaps that is just me).


When you add the layer, you will get the subtle color change or black and white or garish effect and the results may often bare little resemblance to the original image color effects. You can, of course, manipulate that as well such as changing the blending mode or adding other layers above that or using the same layer again or perhaps adding a gradient to modify that layer.


contrast color lookup createdIf you push up the quality to say 200 then the result of the generated CSP etc files can go up to 225MB or so, so the presets are not really that small. Actually adding a high quality CSP etc file can take a very long to process. You can also go for the opposite and select the lowest quality (7, it seems) and that can create some unusual color changes.


You can also add more layers with the same 'poor' quality LUT using the duplicate layer in the layer menu and also combine with oil paint etc (as left)



Using a black and white layer with the 'poor' (lowest setting) and the generated LUT layer was duplicated a number of times and is great for creating interesting dark and gloomy imagery. You can modify the layer by using gradients or perhaps effects to add different color highlights or perhaps add shapes to the artwork such as grid to modify the layer


grid color lookup guide photoshop


Video timelines

You can also use the LUT with the video timeline in Photoshop, simply add the adjustment layer above a smart object timeline and the entire movie will be turned into a very dark and gloomy or red etc video once rendered as MP4 etc.


It should be noted that sometimes the result of adding the effect can generate unusual artificats with certain images and that a high quality file may result in a worse conversion than a low quality one where the color range does not ruin the end result video.


Anyway, the key thing is to carefully check the video before loading it up to sites such as Youtube (as I have found out to my cost many a time). What works well with an image may not end up as good with a video but at the same time, some really unusual video effects can be created using the files


Affinity Photo

You can also create interesting color lookups in Affinity Photo via the export menu. Still requires the use of adjustment layers but you can still use the app to create some very subtle as well as extreme color effects.


The nice thing about that tool is that you can save one format and also you get a nice preview of a cat (unless you load your own picture). There are also many other apps that can be used to create the files.



Other tutorials can be found on the site such as how to use the count tool in Photoshop CC 2017 etc and how to Photoshop tool customization and how to rotate custom shapes in Photoshop in a variety of ways and how to create swirly smear edge colorful backgrounds in Photoshop using maximum filter and pointillize filter


Other presets

You can also find a huge selection of resources on this site such as patterns which will make a great source for all kinds of color effects also such as heart and romance patterns and more intense flame and fire patterns


Youtube Video tutorials by graphicxtras

Here is a video on the subject created by us a while back giving some details about the feature.

[Youtube] tutorial on how to create LUTs