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How to Use LUTs to Colour Correct Pictures in Affinity Photo

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Photographers love Affinity Photo for their image editing, particularly as it offers the flexibility of using LUTs and presets to help colour correct and colour grade. LUTs – Look Up Tables – let you colour edit your photo without altering the original. You can make changes at any point after adding your LUT as it doesn’t change your editing sliders, which is much more helpful than a simple Affinity photo preset or photo filter, for example.

In this tutorial, we’ll look at using LUTs in Affinity Photo to colour correct images. Rather than adding a stylised look, or heavy edit, colour correcting should help you bring your photograph to a good ‘neutral,’ particularly from a flat RAW image. You then have the option to colour grade too if you’d like to.

If you need a set of LUTS to try, you can find plenty over on Envato Elements, where everything's included in a monthly subscription. In this tutorial I'm using this set: Ultra Color | LUTs pack for Any Software

How to Use LUTs to Colour Correct Pictures in Affinity Photo

Make Basic Corrections

Treat your RAW image how you would usually, applying profile corrections and generally bringing your RAW up to a good level. This should be limited to things like toning down blown highlights; corrective rather than making any aesthetic changes. I’ve chosen an image that’s slightly flat, so that you’ll be able to better see the effect of a LUT.

Make basic correctionsMake basic correctionsMake basic corrections
Make basic corrections

When you’ve finished, click develop to convert your RAW and make the image ready for raster editing.

How to Load LUTs into Affinity Photo

To use your LUT you’ll need to load it into Affinity.

Adding a LUTAdding a LUTAdding a LUT
Adding a LUT

In the Adjustment panel you’ll see LUT, click on it to drop it down and then click the cog on the right and choose Import.

LUT folderLUT folderLUT folder
LUT folder

The LUTs are organised into folders in the case of the example pack I'm using. You can highlight each set and import them in a batch. Some of the sets are definitely on the side of colour grading rather than colour correction, but the Product set is quite neutral, so I imported those.

Apply a LUT

Applying the LUTApplying the LUTApplying the LUT
Applying the LUT

I’ve applied ‘Product_05’ and you can see the image is immediately brightened, there’s more contrast and increased saturation. Here’s a before and after:

Before and after LUT applicationBefore and after LUT applicationBefore and after LUT application
Before and after LUT application

When you applied your LUT, you’ll have noticed a pop up box with more options.

LUT optionsLUT optionsLUT options
LUT options

Opacity will reduce the effect, Blend to let you change how it’s applied, and then a few others:

Next to Load LUT is the LUT you’ve chosen, but you can actually load an individual LUT into here too, instead of going through the Adjustment panel.

Merge will flatten your LUT effect down onto the photo. Delete removes the effect and shuts the panel, and Reset will remove it  but without closing the panel.

Infer LUT won’t apply to what you’re doing now, but it lets you upload a prefiltered image plus the original unaltered, will work out how to recreate that filter, and then will create an exportable LUT for it. Neat!

Adjust LUT

You’ve got a different kind of base for your image now, but you’ll likely still want to tweak that. Head back over to your Adjustment panel and make some changes.

Make changes to the LUT effectMake changes to the LUT effectMake changes to the LUT effect
Make changes to the LUT effect

Everything was a tad oversaturated for me, so my first tweak would be to just knock the Vibrance down a little to offset that. When you choose an adjustment – Vibrance in this case – you’ll get thumbnail options to show you an effect, but when you click on one of those you’ll also then get some slider options so you can fine tune.

After adjustmentsAfter adjustmentsAfter adjustments
After adjustments

Every adjustment you make will add an Adjustment layer in your Layers panel, so you can always delete it, you’re never working on your actual image. In my adjustment layers above, as well as reducing the vibrancy, I’ve also taken the aqua edge off the grass with a Selective Colour Adjustment, and brought down the highlights a little so they aren’t glaring

You're All Done!

Before and AfterBefore and AfterBefore and After
Before and After

Now you should have your image colouring at a good level where it would be fine to export and use if it’s being used ‘as is’ or it’s in a good position to colour grade or stylise it as you've given your photo a good base to work from.

LUTs won't look the same across different images as they're using the information in your photo to make adjustments, so don't discount a LUT or set because it doesn't work for one of your images, it might be perfect for another. After a while you'll instinctively know which LUTs will look best across your work, and that'll make your editing process quicker and easier. In the meantime though it's fun to play around with different LUTs in Affinity and see how they look when applied to your photographs.

More Affinity Photo Resources

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