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How to Make Look-Up Tables in Lightroom Classic (DIY Creative Color LUTs)

Read Time: 5 mins

Presets: one click, and you can transform the appearance of an image. It's a great way to apply styles and test out a look for photos and videos.

In this tutorial, you'll learn how to create LUTs, or lookup tables, using Lightroom, LUTs that you can use in other apps. An ideal use for this is creating a LUT look that you can use in Adobe Premiere, for example. 

LUTs and Lightroom?

LUTs are a popular format for video presets, and almost every video editing app supports importing a LUT and applying it to footage for a new look and feel.

Lightroom presets, in ways more powerful than simple LUTs, are a bit confusing. There are now two versions of Lightroom (Classic and CC) and they support presets in a variety of formats. Lightroom Classic originally used .lrpreset files for one-click styles, and now you'll often find .XMP presets for Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic.

How to Create a LUT in Lightroom Classic

In this tutorial, we're going to work with the IWLTBAP LUT generatorIt's a pay-what-you-want piece of software that makes it easy to create a LUT file using Lightroom adjustments.

Start off by downloading the app. The download package includes both a macOS and Windows version so this tutorial is easy to follow for everyone.

1. Generate a HALD

To follow this tutorial, you'll need to start by creating a HALD file. This is a rainbow colored cube that you'll use to export your preset as a LUT.

generate Hald filegenerate Hald filegenerate Hald file
Click on Generate a HALD, then set a destination.

Click on Generate a HALD. Choose a destination to save the file. Then, find your file. Mine was named Neutral-512.png and is exactly what's needed to create LUTs with Adobe Lightroom.

2. Import The HALD File

Now, switch to Adobe Lightroom. Import the image (File > Import Photos) and browse to the HALD file. Now, you'll see the same rainbow rectangle inside the app. This is essential to build a preset as we'll use it as a "norm" to compare our adjustments to.

Hald image LightroomHald image LightroomHald image Lightroom
Make sure that you can find your image once imported into Lightroom.

3. Apply Your Image Adjustments

Now, the fun begins! It's time to start making adjustments to your image. It's a good idea to grab a few still frames from your video footage and import it to Lightroom to test out and build your style with.

LR adjust appliedLR adjust appliedLR adjust applied
Apply adjustments, focused on hue and tone, to your still frame.

Keep in mind, you should stick to color adjustments when using this approach. Adjustments like exposure and vignettes for example just don't work well. Try to stick to adjustments that focus on hue and tone, as detail adjustments like Clarity won't work in the LUT.

4. Copy and Paste Your Adjustments

Let's move ahead by staying on the image we edited, and then clicking on Copy in the lower left corner. Then, switch to the Neutral-512.png image and click on Paste. Only paste the settings related to tone and hue.

Paste adjustments imagePaste adjustments imagePaste adjustments image
Copy adjustments from your source frame, then paste it on the Neutral-512.png image.

Remember our magical rainbow image? You might be wondering why it's so useful. Basically, the LUT tool is going to use this as a reference point for how to modify the video footage.

5. Export Your Modified HALD

After you've pasted your adjustments, it's time to export the HALD file (rainbow image.) 

Right click on your rainbow image and choose Export > Export. Make sure that you're exporting it at 100% quality and with sRGB color. Save your file somewhere easy to find because you'll need it in the next step.

6. Convert to Cube

With your exported file open, return to the IWLTBAP LUT Generator. Click on Convert to CUBE and browse to your newly saved file. The tool will create a file with a .cube extension.

Point to saved imagePoint to saved imagePoint to saved image
Click Convert to CUBE and point the tool to your newly-exported file.

That's it! With the newly-generated .cube file, you can add the style to your favorite video editing app. Check your favorite tool's documentation if you've never imported a LUT.

The Best Source for Lightroom Presets (With Unlimited Downloads)

Maybe you want to try this tutorial out, but aren't creating visual styles of your own. In that case, it helps to use Adobe Lightroom presets from other photographers.

The best source for Lightroom presets is undoubtedly Envato Elements. For a single flat price, you can download every preset in the library (thousands!) and use them on your images. It's the best way to borrow, study, and use styles without developing everything from scratch.

Elements Adobe LR presetsElements Adobe LR presetsElements Adobe LR presets
These presets all work with the approach you saw in this tutorial and are all included with Envato Elements.

Let's check out three of our favorite options from Envato Elements. They're all included as part of your subscription at no extra cost.

1. Lightroom Presets Art Pro

One click adds a lot of polish to your image with these presets. Built with high art styles in mind, you can borrow these advanced looks and apply them to your own images with little work involved.

Lightroom Presets Art ProLightroom Presets Art ProLightroom Presets Art Pro

2. Cross Processing - 25 Lightroom Presets

Cross-processing is a darkroom technique that involves using "mismatched" chemistry. You can recreate that same fun style that just feels classic with the help of these presets. Ideal for travel snapshots, try out the 25 styles included inside of this single convenient package.

Cross processing Adobe LightroomCross processing Adobe LightroomCross processing Adobe Lightroom

3. Caribbean Mobile & Desktop Lightroom Presets

Even if you aren't on the islands, you can borrow a bit of sunshine with these presets. That high key, sun bleached feel makes your images shine. Also benefit from highly saturated blues, perfect for water-focused photos.

Caribbean Lightroom presetsCaribbean Lightroom presetsCaribbean Lightroom presets

Remember, everything is included when you choose Envato Elements. It's a tremendous investment in your post-processing toolbelt.

More Resources to Learn Adobe Lightroom

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