How to Generate Easy LUTs in Photoshop
Lookup tables are one of the most useful tools for editors, colorists, and DPs alike. Here’s how you can generate LUTs in Photoshop in a pinch.
As a colorist, I regularly need to create LUTs for a wide variety of applications. They’re most often utilized in my own post-production pipeline as a means to streamline the DI process, but LUTs have so many other uses as well. For instance, I’ll occasionally generate a LUT for an editor to use during an offline edit or for a DP to load into their cinema camera.
Most of the time I’m working in DaVinci Resolve, which of course is a dedicated color grading platform. As such, Resolve has built-in LUT generating capabilities, so naturally when I need to create a lookup table for any reason, Resolve is always my first choice.
That said, there have been many instances where I was asked to generate a LUT for one reason or another, but didn’t have access to my DaVinci system. In these cases, I’ll turn to Photoshop.
While many applications can generate LUTs, I find Adobe Photoshop to be ideal for the task, given the simplicity of the process and overall amount of control that you have. This is the typical workflow I’d recommend for generating LUTs in Photoshop:
1. Import a Still
Simply import a high-res frame from your project (RAW or otherwise) into Photoshop. You can import video as well, but this will take much longer to load.
2. Add Adjustment Layers
Create at least one adjustment layer, and make your color corrections as desired.
3. Export the LUT
Click File > Export > Color Lookup Tables and then choose your settings and save. It’s as simple as that.
I really love that Photoshop allows you to customize your LUT by offering several different formats (3DL, cube, CSP, ICC) and even lets you set the exact amount of grid points. These tools are very helpful for maximizing the compatibility and use of your LUT files.
You may not always need to use Photoshop to generate LUTs, but chances are you already have it installed on your system. In a pinch, it’s a fantastic option.
Got any workflow tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!