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In-depth Overview: Learn the Colour Tab in DaVinci Resolve

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Learn to colour correct with our free course DaVinci Resolve Colour Grading for Beginners. You'll learn how to use each important tool in Resolve, including how to set up your project using scene cut detection, how to get clean skin tones with noise reduction and how to create cinematic looks.

In this lesson, you'll get to know the colour grading window in DaVinci Resolve.

In-depth Overview: Learn the Colour Tab in DaVinci Resolve

There are lots of different ways to colour grade and there's no one right or wrong way to do it; if you get an image at the end of your session that you're happy with and your clients are happy with, then you're a colourist! That said, there are few tried-and-true ways to colour correct and grade video, and Resolve has the inbuilt tools to support a variety of workflows. Let's take a look.

The Colour tabThe Colour tabThe Colour tab
The Colour tab

This is the Colour tab with the gallery at the top with the section that you can see says, ‘No stills created’.

Right click on the image and Grab StillRight click on the image and Grab StillRight click on the image and Grab Still
Right click on the image and Grab Still

Say you wanted to push your grade to purple, just as an example, you can right-click on the image and Grab Still and it’ll send it to that section.

right-click on the top-left still and choose Apply Grade right-click on the top-left still and choose Apply Grade right-click on the top-left still and choose Apply Grade
Right-click on the top-left still and choose Apply Grade

This means if you go to another clip in the timeline and hover your mouse over in the still in the top left, it’ll show you that same grade to your currently opened clip. It's effectively a quick way of making a LUT (more on those in second). You can then right-click on the top-left still and choose Apply Grade and it’ll apply it to the selected clip.

This is really a simple way of creating a look on one piece of footage that can easily then be replicated across the rest of it. If you have multiple clips from the same camera, created a grade on one and then copied it over to those clips, you’d know you were getting a consistent grade the entire way through without having to do it from scratch each time.


Colour Correction

Resolve also allows you to import and use LUTs, either your own or the ones that come as part of the software. A LUT is a Look-Up Table, a sort of math-based shortcut to transforming colour values so that they have a different output. This is a bit like a filter, but more precise and non-destructive to your footage. It can always be undone.

Resolve also allows you to import and use LUTsResolve also allows you to import and use LUTsResolve also allows you to import and use LUTs
Resolve allows you to import and use LUTs

One way to use LUTs effectively is in the colouring process: Colour grading and colour correction. Colour correction is taking footage that's been shot either RAW or in a LOG profile, which means that you're capturing as much information as possible in your image and not applying any in camera colourization. Then in a program like DaVinci Resolve, you colour correct it back to either a neutral starting point to then move on to your grade, or if you're going for a natural look, colour correcting it to that.

LUTs from a number of camera manufacturersLUTs from a number of camera manufacturersLUTs from a number of camera manufacturers
LUTs from a number of camera manufacturers

The footage here was taken with a Black Magic URSA Mini 4.6K G2. If you go up to LUTs in the top left, you can see a number of camera manufacturers, including Blackmagic Design, which fits with how this footage was taken.

Each one you hover over will open up the LUTs you can see to the right of the list, in the shot above and then if you hover over the LUT examples you can see those applied.

right click and choose Apply LUT to Current Noderight click and choose Apply LUT to Current Noderight click and choose Apply LUT to Current Node
Right click and choose Apply LUT to Current Node

Then, just as before, if you want to apply that LUT you can right click and choose Apply LUT to Current Node.

That will create a relatively balanced piece of colour correction and then you can push further into a colour grade.

Colour Grading

The LUTs in the previous section are all built into Davinci Resolve but you can add your own, including LUTs from Envato Elements, where you'll find some fantastic colourists on there who have put up different packs to either get cinematic looks, film looks, and really good for wedding photographers to get that almost ethereal, bleached, whitewashed look as well.

one click can create quite a different styleone click can create quite a different styleone click can create quite a different style
One click can create quite a different style, instantly!

Above, this is a quite intense teal and orange LUT, but you can see how one click can create quite a different style, instantly.

Tools for Colour Grading from Scratch

But you’ll likely want to learn how to colour correct and colour grade from scratch rather than just applying a LUT.


At the top right you’ll see Timeline and that brings up a timeline of your footage.

 Timeline  Timeline  Timeline

You can see the clip selected and where you are within it. If you prefer to scrub through the timeline under the main clip, you can do, and you can save space by clicking Timeline again to turn this one off and remove it from the screen.


Next to Timeline is Clips, and as you can imagine that’s what brings your clips up underneath the main one. It’s good to have them up, particularly when you start to get into the end game of your grade where you're making sure that all of your clips are actually matching each other and are consistent.

Nodes you can see to the right of the main clip, this is where you do all of your grading, it’s the workhorse of the Colour tab. You can zoom in and out here with the little slider, and you’re probably going to want to keep the nodes tab open the whole time.


This is Effects, which you can learn more about in another tutorial, but you can see there are different effects that you can add to nodes within the colour grading section. A really good thing to use is finishing effects; blur or film grain, things like that, to really start to push your look in the right direction.


There are a couple of cool tools called Halation and Light Rays and using those two in conjunction with each other, especially when you've got a little bit of light in the background, maybe practical lamps, looks really good.

Camera Raw

Camera Raw tabCamera Raw tabCamera Raw tab
Camera Raw tab

In the bottom left you’ve got a Camera Raw tab. You can adjust any settings here if you need to.

Colour Match

Colour MatchColour MatchColour Match
Colour Match

Next along to the right is Colour Match. If you have a colour checker and you shoot a frame of your colour checker at the start of your shoot, you can bring that frame in. You pull a window over that frame and hit Match, and it will go through it and make sure that blues are blues, yellows are yellows, whites are whites, blacks are blacks and so on. It’s a nice way to start to get a very quick colour balance across all of your footage.

Primaries - Colour Wheels

Primaries - Colour WheelsPrimaries - Colour WheelsPrimaries - Colour Wheels
Primaries - Colour Wheels

This is the section where you’ll do all of your grading, this is the main tool along with the nodes, where you’ll be working.

It’s very similar to curves if you're used to using curves in other programs. It's basically playing with your hues and saturation, as well as the levels of your luminance within the image, in your mids, your highs, and your shadows.

Colour barsColour barsColour bars
Colour bars

Within the colour wheel section, you've also got colour bars, it does similar things to colour wheels primaries.

primaries log wheelsprimaries log wheelsprimaries log wheels
primaries log wheels

Then you've got Primaries Log Wheels as well. The difference between primaries colour wheels and primaries log wheels is that primaries colour wheels is non-destructive, primaries log wheels is destructive to the image.

You would use the primaries colour wheels for all of your colour correction. Some colourists move into the log wheels to push that grade right at the end. When they know that all the work has already been done and they don't need to worry as much about the structural integrity of the image, and they can push it really far.

Next along from that is HDR, which is if you’re working with HDR content, and then along again is RGB Mixer. We’re just going to skip past those for now as you don’t really need to use them for this tutorial.

Motion Effects

Motion EffectsMotion EffectsMotion Effects
Motion Effects

This is Motion Effects, which is where noise reduction comes in: temporal noise reduction, spatial noise reduction, and then also motion blur.



Moving across to the right, you’ve got curves. Curves should be very familiar to you if you're used to working in other programs like the Lumetri tab in Premiere or the colour grading tools in Final Cut Pro and other places. Also photography as well, in things like Lightroom.

To the right of the Curves graph you can change all of the colour channels at once or you can unchain, and you can select to say just the red, the green, the blue, etc. You can also do some more micro adjustments through this section as well.

Curves, Hue Vs Hue,Curves, Hue Vs Hue,Curves, Hue Vs Hue,
Curves, Hue Vs Hue,

Across the top you've got different versions of it, Hue Vs Hue, Hue Vs Saturation, Hue Vs Luminance, Luminance Vs Saturation, Saturation Vs Saturation, and Saturation Vs Luminance.

Colour Warper

Colour WarperColour WarperColour Warper
Colour Warper

Colour Warper is a fairly new tool. As you move your pointed around your clip, the relevant colour is highlighted in the colour warper box and then you can drag that around to change it.

Colour Warper in actionColour Warper in actionColour Warper in action
Colour Warper in action

Above you can see the green colours are grabbed and shifted to a purple colour. It means you can get quite granular with the colours in the image and it’s also quite tactile.



Next along is the Qualifier, which you can use to grab skin tones.  If you click the magic wand button at the top left  then you can see what you’ve grabbed. You can also use it to isolated certain parts of the image, like all the greens for example.



The next tool is to add a little power window, so everything within it will be affected. You can invert this too, so that everything outside of the window will be affected.

You can use the pen tool in here to draw around people and objects too.

Tracker Window

Tracker WindowTracker WindowTracker Window
Tracker Window

This tool means you can motion track any power windows made in this section to the image, so if you’re trying to just track someone's face through the image for example, and you’ve changed its colour, you can have that stay through the whole image not just one block where the face was when you did the grade.

Magic Mask

Magic MaskMagic MaskMagic Mask
Magic Mask

Magic Mask is only available as part of DaVinci Resolve Studio and you don’t need to use it here, but if you do have it, it’s good for grabbing a person out of an image to brighten them or something then you can just highlight the person and it grabs them pretty well. It doesn't need to be as accurate as rotoscoping because it’s for a colour grade, not separating someone completely from the background or trying to replace the background or anything like that.

It's actually pretty handy, especially if you've got a lot of movement in the scene and you want to track one person throughout.



Here, you’ve got blur, sharpening and mist. This is where you can add some sharpness to an image, or blur it. Mist is useful for things like beauty and fashion.



In a node-based editor, Key is effectively what your opacity would be in a layer based editor, so that's where you can change the opacity of anything that you've done to any of your nodes.

If you've got a LUT on the first node but it's a little bit too strong and you want to bring that down a bit, this is where you can do that.



As it sounds, this is where you can change sizing and make any tweaks to your image if you need to.



The tracker works really well on this, but if you do want to make any tweaks, you can do that here.



Scopes are really important for colour grading because they help you analyse your image and monitor colour changes you’re making. Depending on the way you’ve got DaVinci set up, you might change Scopes to be on a second display so you can keep an eye on them all the time.

Pop the Scopes window out and it’ll give you all of your scopes in onePop the Scopes window out and it’ll give you all of your scopes in onePop the Scopes window out and it’ll give you all of your scopes in one
Pop the Scopes window out and it’ll give you all of your scopes in one

If you’re on a single screen though, you can pop the Scopes window out and it’ll give you all of your scopes in one, rather than just seeing them as one unit down at the bottom.

That was quite a comprehensive few of most of the tools you'll need to get colour grading in DaVinci Resolve, and hopefully you'll feel confident enough now to follow along with one of our upcoming tutorials where we'll demonstrate some grading and put these tools to use.

More DaVinci Resolve Articles

About the Authors

Tom Graham created the video course that includes this lesson. Marie Gardiner wrote the text version of this lesson, and it was edited and published by Jackson Couse.

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