Using LUTs in Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a photography and graphics editing program for Windows and Mac OS, and is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. It's wide ranging effects and versatile controls allow users to design and create graphics, edit photos and more.

Since version CS6, users have been able to use the Color Lookup layer function to color grade graphics and images with LUTs, adding increased functionality to the program's already wide range of capabilities.


Here's a short videos on how to to apply LUTs using Adobe Photoshop CS6 / CC:

1. Begin with an image open in Adobe Photoshop.

Using LUTs in Adobe Photoshop CS6 / CC


2. Next, do basic corrections to your image by adding adjustment layers. Click the button on the bottom right to open the adjustment layer panel, and choose your adjustment. For example, you may want to use “Brightness & Contrast” to correct the contrast/exposure, or “Curves” to correct the White Balance of the image.

Using LUTs in Adobe Photoshop CS6 / CC


3. To apply a LUT, click the Adjustment Layer button again on the bottom right, and choose the Color Lookup option.

Using LUTs in Adobe Photoshop CS6 / CC


4. In the Color Lookup properties panel, choose “Load 3D LUT” from the dropdown menu.

Using LUTs in Adobe Photoshop CS6 / CC


5. Navigate to the folder on your computer where your desired LUT is stored. Select the LUT file (.cube) you wish to apply and click Load. This will apply the LUT to your footage


6. The LUT will now be applied to your image. You can toggle the LUT on and off by click the eye icon next to the Color Lookup adjustment layer.

Using LUTs in Adobe Photoshop CS6 / CC


Which LUT should I apply to my footage?

LUTs usually come in two formats – “Rec 709” and “LOG”. Depending on the picture profile you shot the image in will depend on which version you use. If you shot in a standard picture profile, you should start with a “Rec 709” version LUT. If you shot in a flat or neutral profile, you should start with a “LOG” version LUT.


When I click “Browse” to look for the LUT file on my computer, I can’t see it.

If you have downloaded a .zip file that contains the LUT files, ensure it has been unzipped to a folder on your computer. Some operating systems will not recognize files if they are still inside a .zip file.


After I apply the LUT, everything looks too dark/bright or warm/cold.

You need to correct you footage’s tone and white balance to match the LUT. After you apply your LUT, try adjusting the Exposure of your clip with an adjustment layer, or use the Curves feature to warm/cool the image. LUTs should always be used as a starting point in your color correction workflow, and are not a “one-click done” solution.


How do I decrease the affect that LUT has on my image?

Change the Opacity of the Color Lookup layer to modulate the affect the LUT has on the clip, For instance, if you want more of a natural feel to the image, turn the Opacity of the Color LUT adjustment layer to 50%.