You can find many pre-made Lookup Tables (LUTs) online and in different editing applications. But what if you wanted to make your own LUT? How do you create a custom LUT so you can achieve the specific look you want? In this movie, Richard Harrington demonstrates how to create a LUT that targets your specific image in Adobe Photoshop.
- So far we've been simply applying built in LUTs and other people's LUTs, but you can make your own. In fact, this is a wonderful way to come up with a whole new look that you can easily share across images. Let's open up two photos and create a new lookup table. In Photoshop, I'll choose File, Open. And let's start with some of the RAW files here from the DNG folder. I'm gonna work with these two landscape images and click Open.
They're both pretty similar. The blues are just a little different so I'm gonna make a slight temperature change to this one, and raise the Vibrance just a little bit, and the Clarity, slightly. Those look fairly consistent. Different type of rocks, different cloud conditions, but similar skies. Let's go ahead and open up those objects. Now, what's important is is that you have a true background layer.
So, if you open this up, you need to flatten the image. I'll choose Layer, Flatten Image. You need an actual background layer in order for this to work. Let's create a new look from scratch. I'm just gonna experiment, but you can do any adjustments that you like. I'll add a Black & White adjustment and use the on image tool here to refine the blue, and the reddish tones, to get a good strong black and white. And that'll change that.
We'll put that into a mode, like Soft Light. And now it's serving as more of a contrast type adjustment. Let's put a little bit of a curve in there and lift up the middle tones just a little, while pulling the highlights back down, and getting a nice, rich black. That looks good. I'll introduce one of those Gradient Maps. And from the pop-up list here, I'll choose Photographic Toning and choose one of the more gold tones.
I like that. Let's use the keyboard shortcut of Shift + Plus, to change it's blending mode. I want to avoid any major banding, so I'll go with something a little softer there, like Hue, and lower it down just a bit. That looks good. Let's pop that again with some contrast. This time I'll Option, or Alt + Click on the word Auto and tell it to find the darks and lights for me and click OK.
Do keep in mind that any of these adjustments you make can only be color. Vignettes and more graphical items, can't be stored in a lookup table. I like that, we're just about good. Pop the Vibrance a little bit and the Saturation. And we're gonna call that usable. We've got a nice strong Southwest desert feeling image here. Now, from the File menu, I could choose File, Export, and export this to a Color Lookup Table.
This'll pop up a new dialog. You'll notice a wide range of formats. The 3D Look, which is popular with apps from Autodesk. Cube, which is actually more of an Adobe standard thanks to IRIDAS and SpeedGrade. CSP or CineSpace, which is not widely used. And if you are intending this to be more for output for a printer profile, the ICC Profile. Although, that's more of a technical output for RGB and CMYK conversion.
You could theoretically adjust the image so that it looked good on the printer and then save that as an ICC Profile. However, most printer manufacturers will give you printer profiles that are going to be more accurate. But, that is one way to use a lookup table. Let's leave the Cube box checked and you'll notice from Grid Points, you can decide how many points to have. Somewhere between 32 and 64 is usually good. I'll usually favor 32 because having too many points can actually produce banding, just like if you had too many points on a curve.
Let's give this a little bit of a name. And in the copyright field, you could put your own name. When ready, click OK. You'll now need to give it a name as well. I'll call it desert dust and avoid any spaces. And I've navigated to the LUTs folder in my downloaded files. You could also just store this in any location where it's easy for you to find. And I'll click Save to store that as a lookup table.
Now, I can go to another image, click on the Color Lookup, and simply choose to load that new lookup table. Let's go here to that downloads folder. Here's the desert dust one that I made and I'll click Open. Well, it applies the look. And in fact, I really like that look. On this image that had a more interesting sky, I really love how it's turned out.
Remember, it may not be perfect, so you can still add a slight Curves adjustment before. Allowing you to remap the image slightly so that you get a good balance. In this case I'm gonna pull the shadows down just a little and put a slight lift in the highlights. And apply just a little bit of Vibrancy here to introduce more color cast. That looks great. And so, there's a simple look.
Putting the two images side by side, they definitely have a similar feel for the browns in the rock. And if we were to open up another image here. Let's apply the look. We'll load it. And you see, it gives us that same look. Now, different images are going to be a little bit different because this was particularly designed for desert and the rock textures, but it still applied pretty well.
And remember, the use of a Curves adjustment in the middle here, is gonna give you the flexibility to remap that. By slightly lowering my midtones, and rolling up the black there, and the white, I now have a more consistent look between the two images. There to there. The greenish cast and the strong, rich browns, have come through on both. Color a little too intense? No problem. Add Vibrance and just tone that down a little bit with Saturation and Vibrance until you feel that the looks match.
All I had to do was make small adjustments to Color and Contrast, but all of my stylization has been encapsulated into that one lookup table. And remember, if you put all of this work into the lookup table, not only can you save it as a preset for your still applications, but you can hand it off to tools like After Effects for motion graphics for the web or for video, and to Premiere Pro for editing your videos.
In this course, Rich Harrington demystifies lookup tables (LUTs) and shows how to use them with Photoshop, Lightroom, and other Adobe CC applications. He also shows how to use gradient maps—where tints are based on the luminance values in the image—to add creative color and noise to images, and how to organize, store, and share these assets with other Creative Cloud programs and other photo and video professionals.
- Understanding the role of LUTS
- Working with LUTs and Looks in Premiere Pro
- Creating custom LUTs
- Cross-application workflows
- Managing your LUT library and presets