Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Using the Color Lookup adjustment layer, part of Advanced Photoshop: Adjustment Layer and Blend Modes (2015).
- What we're gonna take a look at next is a lookup table. A lookup table reassigns color based on an absolute value. Essentially, the table defines that one color equals this new color, and that may not sound that powerful, but when you add changes to tonality, it allows you to very quickly store looks inside of a table preset. One of the best things about lookup tables is how cross platform they are. These aren't just an Adobe technology. The good new is that they will work inside of Premiere Pro, After Effects, SpeedGrade and Photoshop.
Hopefully, we'll see these in Lightroom someday. On top of this, these also work with third-party tools and applications, like SpeedGrade or Resolve. This allows people to collaborate between these two tools. So whether you're working in Adobe SpeedGrade or DaVinci Resolve on the video side, you still have the same flexibility. What I like about this is that as I apply these presets, I can get a whole bunch of looks without a lot of effort. Let's start with the simple ones that are built in.
In this case, I'm gonna apply the lookup table. It's this last icon here in the second row called Color Lookup. And when you apply it, it will apply an empty Lookup table layer. Nothing has happened yet because we haven't chosen a table. There are three categories of presets, a 3D LUT, which is mostly for color manipulation, Abstract Profiles and Device Link Profiles that are really designed to simulate a piece of hardware. You'll notice here that these are being used for all different types of purposes, though, and Photoshop has just applied these different presets.
These can create strong looks or very subtle looks. You notice there that the colors were just slightly reassigned to new values. From this 3D LUT category, there are a lot more choices, and some of the ones that are gonna be most useful to you will include presets from different Fuji and Kodak stocks. This does a great job of reassigning the gamma point and the colors to simulate a traditional film stock in a digital medium. Be very careful with some of these other options here, such as the Order.
Changing this can really dramatically reassign the color, so you're gonna wanna be subtle there with that movement. Normally, these are set to opposite orders, but as you work here, there are lots of different choices. The great news, too, is that you can also load other ones, and we'll explore that process in a second. But if you apply a lookup table, you'll notice one key thing is missing, and that is that you have no controls to adjust it. The Properties panel simply lets you apply the lookup table.
You might be thinking, "This doesn't sound that useful," but remember, any adjustment layer can also be blended. So if you decide to, you could change the blending mode. In this case, the film stock was placed into Soft Light, so not only did it push the gamma, but it also darkened the overall image. Changing that into something like Screen and it gets brighter. So we have an overexposed-type film look. And, of course, you can tweak the Opacity to blend back the original layer.
This allows for a more subtle change. But the key takeaways here are be sure to explore some of the more abstract looks for stylizing an image and pay particular attention to the different film stocks. These are gonna be quite helpful to enhance the overall look of your image quite quickly.
- Improving color and contrast with Auto Curves and Auto Levels
- Creating custom black-and-white effects
- Using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to recolor artwork
- Expert color grading with color lookup tables
- Using gradient maps
- Making nondestructive adjustments with Smart Objects and stack modes