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How to Use 3D LUTs in Photoshop

Tutorial and reference guide for how to use 3D LUTs in Photoshop.

While people primarily use 3D LUTs when color correcting video footage, look up tables can also be very useful when editing photos. You can install LUTs in Adobe Photoshop and work with them as an additional tool in your workflow.

They will help you save time getting to the ideal look and tone you’re after. You can also fade the effect and customize different settings so that the effect is more subtle and based on your own style and preference.

For a long time, I had no idea you could use LUTs in Photoshop. The other day, when testing out our Free Cinematic LUTs Pack I finally learned how to use 3D LUTs in Photoshop. Today, I am going to share some tips on using LUTs and a quick tutorial on how to install 3D LUTs in Photoshop.

I will be using Photoshop CC for this tutorial, but 3D LUTs should work in Adobe Photoshop CS6 and higher, including the newest versions of Creative Cloud.

1. Open Your Photo

Start by opening the photo(s) of your choice. For this tutorial, I’ll be using a photo from our adventures in Colorado.

importing image into photoshop

2. Find the Adjustments Panel

Next, navigate to the Adjustments Panel and find the ‘Color Lookup’ icon. It looks like this:

Color Lookup tool in Photoshop Adjustments Panel

If you can’t seem to find the Adjustments Panel, it may simply be turned off. To turn it on go up to the top of your screen in Photoshop and click Window > Adjustments.

Photoshop Adjustments Window

You can also find the ‘Color Lookup’ Adjustment by clicking the adjustments icon in the Layers Panel if you’re looking to quickly add a LUT into your document.

3. Load Your 3D LUTs

Now that you have your ‘Color Lookup’ adjustment layer, the last step is to load a 3D LUT into Photoshop.

Click the ‘Load 3D LUT’ dropdown button and then click the highlighted selection to open your folders and files.

load 3D LUTs in Photoshop

When using this method, you can add 1 LUT at a time and quickly apply them to your photos.

If you add your .cube LUT files directly into the ‘3D LUTs’ folder in Photoshop, you can reference them directly from the Color Lookup dropdown menu. For LUTs you find yourself using a lot, it’s a good idea to add them to your folder.

To do this, open up your folders and click Applications > Adobe Photoshop (CC 2017) > Presets > 3DLUTs:

3DLUTs Photoshop folder for loading LUTs into Adobe Photoshop CC

Then, once you find the ‘3DLUTs’ folder, open a separate folder where you have the 3D LUTs you downloaded.

Copy and paste the LUTs from your files into the ‘3D LUTs’ folder.

Finally, restart Photoshop and the LUTs will now be available directly under the drop-downs of the Color Lookup adjustment layer.

How to use 3D LUTs in Photoshop.

Tips for Using 3D LUTs in Photoshop

Now that you have your LUTs imported into Photoshop, here are some tips for using them in your workflow.

  • After applying a LUT to your ‘Color Lookup’ adjustment layer, simply adjust the opacity of the entire layer to reduce/increase the intensity of the effect.
  • Add multiple ‘Color Lookup’ layers to your image to add multiple LUTs at once.
  • Change the Blend Mode of your ‘Color Lookup’ layer to get unique effects with your LUTs. I really like the looks of the blending modes: Overlay, Soft Light, Screen, and Difference (for difference, you need to use 50% opacity or less for a more natural look)
  • Add other adjustment layers on top of your LUTs to get the perfect look.

Here is an example of using multiple LUTs at once in Photoshop for a cool effect.

Using multiple LUTs at once in Photoshop CC

More Resources for LUTs

Find more LUTs and video walkthroughs/tutorials to help you out. Learn how to use LUTs in popular video editing programs: Premiere Pro, Davinci Resolve, and more

If you have any additional questions about installing and/or using 3D LUTs in Photoshop, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you out.


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2 thoughts on “How to Use 3D LUTs in Photoshop

    • Haha, thanks Su! I totally agree with you. With 3D LUTs they are extremely easy to customize and adjust in programs like Premiere Pro and Davinci Resolve, but in Photoshop they are just applied as an adjustment layer. Photoshop Actions are your best bet for editable layers and more customizable effects.

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