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Hidden controls in LUTs to color grade photos in Photoshop. Split LUT

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How to expand control in Photoshop LUTs

Right now, I’m going to show you how to have unprecedented control over color LUTs inside Photoshop.

The Split LUT effect, by Colin Smith

(How to use LUTS in Photoshop and what they are)

Here’s an image I grabbed from Adobe Stock.

beautiful woman to color grade in photoshop

In the Layers panel, choose a new Adjustment Layer and select Color Lookup.

color lookup adjustment layer

In the Properties panel, click where it says Load 3d lut,

load lut in photoshop

You’ll see the LUTs that come with Photoshop. I have some extras. At the end, I’ll show you how to get those.

You can use any LUT, but I’m using Filmic Cube, which is a LUT that I made. (How to make your own LUT in Photoshop)

Free Photoshop LUTs for Photoshop

Color Grade a photo

Now, here’s the problem with LUTs. If you just want to change the color or the brightness, you can’t. (I’ll show you a hack in a sec) The only adjustment I have is to change the opacity to change the strength of theLUT.

change the settings on a LUT

What I’m looking for is a way to control the color and the tone individually. And guess what I’ve figured out. Of course, I have. This is what I’m showing you in this tutorial. So the trick is actually quite simple. I’ve come up with a sort of  frequency separation for color and tone, I call it Split LUT.

Press Ctrl/Cmd+J to duplicate the adjustment layer.

make a split LUT

Name the top layer: tone, and then the bottom one; color. Y

Colin Smith Split LUT effect

Change the blending mode of the tone layer to luminosity. (Click on “normal” and choose luminosity.)

layer blending mode

Choose the color layer, and let’s change the blend mode. Once again, click on normal, go down to color.

So what I’ve done here is essentially split that LUT into two.

color and tone layers

The 2 layers stacked in color and luminosity mode, should look the same as the single adjustment in normal mode.

Now you can change the opacity on the color layer, to just affect the color of the LUT.

Adjust a LUTs color in photoshop

Change the Opacity of the Tone layer to only affect the tone (or luminance).

change color of a lut

So this kind of enables us to hack in and create a separate tone and color slider. Now,

if you want to learn more about how to create LUTs and how to load them into the menus, check out this tutorial.


that I’ve got for you there. I also said I was going to give you some free LUTs. So if you head over to,

I’ve actually got a whole bag of goodies there that you can have for free. Grab free goodies here, including Photoshop brushes, actions, presets, sky images, ebooks and a whole bunch more.

Have you guys kind of stumbled across the same thing? Let me know in the comments underneath if this is useful. And by the way, if you’re new here, welcome to Photoshop Cafe. Hit that subscribe button. Turn on notifications, and you won’t miss any of my videos.

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7 responses to “Hidden controls in LUTs to color grade photos in Photoshop. Split LUT”

  1. Hey Colin,
    Great Tutorial and information! Question! Would it be possible for you to create an Action to accomplish this! That way I don’t have to remember it. 🙂

  2. As a veteran of more than 50 years in business, I simply have to say that i quite enjoy your tutorials and especially as they are not long drawn out affairs. Some of these have inspired me to continue to explore the passion of making images. Thank you

  3. Fantastic! This is going to save me a LOT of time trying to find just the right LUT! Is there a way to see previews of the LUT effects as you scroll down the list of them, like when you scroll down profiles or when you scroll through presets in Lightroom, instead of having to go back to the list and click on each one in turn to see what it does? Thank you for all your great tutorials, they make me feel like it’s actually possible for me to get better at this!

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