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Creating custom lookup tables (LUTs) with Photoshop

As an advanced user, you’re probably excited by LUTs and what’ I’d like you to do now is realize that anything you can do with an adjustment layer can be stored as a lookup table. This means some of the complex recipes that you’ve discovered in this course, with blending modes and adjustment layers, can all get bundled up into one lookup table. Now it doesn’t support masks or anything like that. But it does allow you to take multiple adjustment layers and concatenate or build those into one lookup table, which can then be applied to images in Photoshop, video editing applications or even Adobe Lightroom.

Creating custom lookup tables from Photoshop: Advanced Adjustment Layer and Blend Modes by Richard Harrington

In the case of this image, I’ve already applied several adjustments to enhance the photo. First, a curves adjustment, which is a subtle adjustment on the image, just a little lit. Then a black and white conversion using the overlay blending mode. A little pop to the color, the hue and saturation and some selective color adjustments. Now, you’ll notice that the background layer is locked. That’s important for this to work. But now, all of these adjustment layers can get encapsulated into a single lookup table.

All you need to do is choose file, export, color lookup tables. Now you’re welcome to give it a description and a copyright. Eagles in Alaska. Copyright Rich Harrington. There we go. And then set the quality. Usually 64 to 32 is a good set. Now the 3DL and cube formats are the two most common but you can use these others, as well.

I generally recommend sticking with cube for the broadest compatibility. Click okay and just choose where to save this. I’m gonna put it out to the desktop for now and call this eagle. And I’ll click save. Now the lookup table is generated. If I go to the next image that’s from the same shoot I can simply add a color lookup table effect and then click and load the 3D LUT. Now it’s very easy to go right to that file. Let’s just navigate to the desktop there.

There it is, Eagle cube. I’ll click open. And the look at all of those adjustments are instantly applied. Now what I’ll typically do is double that. This way if needed I can turn one off or simply adjust the opacity of the top layer to taste, allowing me to get something a little bit stronger in case it needs a little boost. In any case, that’s a nice change, the before and the after. And it allowed me to steal the adjustments from one layer and put them into another layer document making it a nice quick fix.

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