Photoshop CS6 introduced a new adjustment layer called Colour Lookup. This new adjustment layer will allow you to add a 3D LUT to your Colour or Black and White image. Before we get into the how, let’s explain the what, you are probably asking “What’s a 3D LUT”. In the film industry, 3D LUTs (or a 3D lookup table) are used to calculate a colour correction (also known as colour grading or sweetening, like white balance in Digital Photography, only more powerful) of how the final film will look on the big screen. (For some more information on Colour Grading, you can see Dado Valentic’s webs site at http://www.mytherapy.tv).Any film or show you watch in the movies or on the TV will have a certain look to it, this will look initially like a colour cast i.e. blue to signify cold or amber to signify warmth as well as many other types (film makers also use grading to invoke emotion, horror films are a great example, and tend to shy towards a blueish cast). However, 3D LUT’s take white balance/colour cast to a whole new level, as they can work on other areas of the image or moving picture, 3D LUT’s can work on the highlights as well as the shadows and provide a flat image with a wonderful boost (similar to Curves, and other features in traditional image processing in Photoshop or Lightroom). The reason that i like 3D LUT’s is that it can give your image a very different look and feel from the traditional adjustment layers.
1. Open your image in to Photoshop CS6.
2. You may want to add a layer which will apply a Black and White conversion (Layer/New Adjustment Layer/Black and White) or any other initial layer adjustment (to get the image exactly where you need it), it maybe that you would like to keep the image in colour, it’s worth while trying different options here)
3. Apply the colour lookup adjustment layer (Layer/New Adjustment Layer/Colour Lookup). You can bring in a LUT from another application like SpeedGrade (that is available with Adobe Production Premium suite, or with the Creative Cloud), however, the Photoshop team have included some 3D LUT’s inside Photoshop CS6. On the Colour Lookup panel, make sure the 3D LUT is turned on, and click the combo box, you will see a great starting point (Filmstock_50, Bleach Bypass etc). Select one of the ones from the list and see how the image changes it’s appearance. I would suggest that you have a play around with the list and also the opacity of the layer to achieve a new look that you want to work with (don’t forget to try this in colour as well as Black & White images). There are also other options on this panel, and we will explore them in another blog post.