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Advanced Adjustment Tips & Tricks in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 12 of 13

Combining Adjustments into a LUT

Ben Willmore

Advanced Adjustment Tips & Tricks in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

12. Combining Adjustments into a LUT
See how a single Color Lookup Table (or LUT) can produce the same results as dozens of individual adjustment layers combined and allow you to hide your “secret sauce” when sharing layered files with others.

Lesson Info

Combining Adjustments into a LUT

Now let's take a look at how you can take multiple adjustments and combine them into a single adjustment layer. This can be used for all sorts of reasons but one of the main ones is when you need to share something with a client that you did using let's say curves and human saturation and a bunch of other adjustment layers. And you don't want them to see your secret sauce that tells them exactly how to make the same kind of adjustment instead you want to hide it. They asked for it as layers, you're gonna give it to them as layers but they're not gonna be able to figure out anything about how you actually created the effect. You can do this anytime you use adjustment layers, you can also use the blending sliders, you can use blending mode, you can lower the opacity of those layers but it has to be something that could be created using adjustment layers and no layer masks. So let's take a look Here, I have an example effect. I just made one up, I'll turn off these adjustment layers, let'...

s see what it does here. I have a gradient map adjustment layer. If I turn it on, it replaces the colours in the image with a variety of other colors. Its opacity has been turned down to 20% and it's in darkened mode. I was just playing around. I didn't know I was going to get this result when I was playing but I just made it so it looked visually different. Then above that I have a black and white adjustment layer that is making the image turned black and white. But you see these two little squares overlapping. If you double click on them, I'm only letting it apply to a certain brightness range within my image and therefore it can affect the whole image. The main thing is I did something fancy there, I used more settings. Then up here is something called a channel mixer adjustment layer which is moving information from one channel in the image to a different channel and image. It's not really important how I made this. Look. I wasn't looking to make this, I'm just showing you something that is a complex uh effect that it takes more than one adjustment layer. Let's say a client asked for the layered version of this file that I made for them and I don't want them to know that it was these three versions, these three kinds of adjustments. I don't want them to be able to come into each one of these in a just how it's made ink over to this one and it just exactly how it's done. I don't want them to see any of that. How can I do this? Well, what I need to do is first the original image that's at the bottom. I need to make sure it's in a layer called background. This one is not, it's in a layer called layer one. So I'll click on the image that contains the original image. I'll go to the layer menu and I'll choose new background from. Layer. You don't need to do that. If the bottom most layer contains your original picture and it's already called background then above that, I need to make sure I've only used adjustment layers and that these masks don't contain anything, there's no black in them at all. And as long as I have that, then I can do the following. I'm going to go to the file menu. I'll come down here to export and there's a choice in here but I can find it called color. Look up tables and if I choose that, then I can give it a description. This description isn't important. Uh You can include a copyright if you're like but I'm gonna skip that And grid points. The higher this is the more accurate more similar will be to this adjustment. But the larger the file size we're about to create will be 32 should be fine. Uh and then down here we need to just choose one of these. I'm going to use the one called Cube. Otherwise, if you turn on the others, you're gonna get more than one file out of this. We only need one. Now I'm going to click OK? It asked me where to save it. I'm gonna put it on my desktop and I'm going to call it. Ben's lut let means look up table and I'll hit safe. All I have to do is remember what the name is and where it was safe because we're gonna need to access it in just a moment. Now if I want to use that, let's take these adjustment layers and turn them off and I'm going to do a different kind of adjustment layer. The kind I want to use is one called a look up table, it says color look up right there when I choose color look up it will give me a bunch of choices up here and one of them is to use a three D light file. Well we just made a three D lut file so I click on this choice and I just choose that top most choice called load it'll ask me for a file and remember I saved on my desktop, it's right there I had opened and now we have the same look within our picture but it uses just one adjustment layer. And if you click on that adjustment layer and you look up here for how is it made you have nothing. The only thing you know is where is that file located on your hard drive And what was the file called now, the reason they originally came up with lutz is that there are certain devices designed for video, like monitors, like a little miniature monitor that might go on a camera and if you made an effect like this, that maybe it's going to be applied for a movie. Their color grading of the movie. So it has a certain stylistic feeling. You could load that three D lut file into that monitor if it's supported lutz and it could apply that in real time in 30 frames per second or whatever on that screen to give the camera operator a preview of what it might look like when you're done. And you actually apply that later on. It was really designed for video, but now it's used where anybody wants to sell a preset to somebody and they don't want to reveal how it was made. They turn it into a lot and then they'll start saying oh a lot will fix that. Well that means nothing. It just means adjustment layers would fix it and they don't want to tell you which adjustment layers were used. But now you know how to make your own, let's

Class Description


  • Precisely match the color of two objects
  • Change black objects to any color.
  • Add drama to dull overcast skies.
  • Apply multiple adjustments in a single adjustment layer.
  • Utilize uncommon settings such as Knockout.


Are you looking to up your adjustment skills so you can be more effective and efficient by utilizing a wider range of advanced features? Do you run into features in Photoshop that you do not utilize such as Knockout Deep, Knockout Shallow, Pass Through mode and wonder how you could utilize them? Then this class is for you.

Ben has been pushing Photoshop to its limits for over 30 years. Learn his best tips and tricks for getting the most out of Photoshop’s adjustments.

You’ll be able to tackle a much wider range of challenges once you expand the range of features you use on a daily basis. You’ll also reduce guesswork while increasing the precision of your adjustments.


  • People who are generally experienced using Photoshop, but want to push their skills to a more advanced level.
  • Those who want to tackle difficult tasks efficiently.
  • People who want to understand the more powerful and less commonly used features in Photoshop.


Adobe Photoshop 2021 (V22.5.0)


As a photographer, Ben Willmore has shot in all 50 states and explored over 80 countries. He has been pushing Photoshop and Lightroom Classic to their limits since the beginning. Ben is part of a select group of non-employees that Adobe trusts with pre-release beta versions of their software so he can have a voice in the future direction of their software. He has written more than a dozen books on digital imaging that have been translated into 9 languages, has written over 100 articles for major magazines, and was inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame. He has been a featured speaker at events on all seven continents where he has taught well over 100,000 people.

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Alicia Orth

I've been using Photoshop for years and still learned lots of great tips from this class. Would love to see more classes like this.

Eric Johnson

Terrific - lots of great information. Way to go Ben!

Marco Basile

Really enjoyed how succinct and sharp the presentation was. Great information I hadn't seen elsewhere. Thank you Ben.