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How do I add color lookup presets in Photoshop?

Color Lookup is a powerful adjustment tool in Photoshop that allows you to quickly change the overall color and tone of an image. Color Lookup presets provide predefined color and tone adjustments that you can apply to your photos with just one click.

In this article, we’ll walk through how to add custom Color Lookup preset files in Photoshop, so you can save your own stylized looks to use again and again. Whether you want to create a vintage film effect, give your photos a matte/muted look, or just color correct portraits with a specific tone, Color Lookup presets are extremely versatile. Let’s get started!

Locate the Color Lookup Adjustment

The first step is to locate the Color Lookup adjustment tool in Photoshop. Here’s how to find it:

For Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) For Older Versions of Photoshop
Go to the Adjustments panel and click on the Color Lookup icon (third from the left in the second row). Go to the Layer > New Adjustment Layer menu and choose Color Lookup.

This will open up the Color Lookup properties panel where you can load and browse different preset files.

Download Color Lookup Preset Files

There are many free Color Lookup preset files available online that you can download. Some popular places to find presets include:

  • Adobe’s free preset packs
  • Retro Supply Co’sLUT packs
  • Preset Love
  • PremiumBeat

Look for preset packs labeled .look or .cube files. These contain the color lookup adjustments that you can load into Photoshop.

After downloading preset files, you’ll want to organize them into one folder on your computer that’s easy to access later.

Load a Color Lookup File

With a preset file downloaded, we can now load it into Photoshop to use it:

  1. Open the image you want to adjust in Photoshop.
  2. Open the Color Lookup adjustment properties (see steps above).
  3. In the properties panel, click the Load 3DLUT File button.
  4. Browse to the folder with your downloaded .look or .cube files.
  5. Select the preset file you want to load and click Open.

You’ll now see the preset loaded into your Color Lookup properties. Go ahead and check the box to enable it. You should see your image change based on the preset.

From here you can adjust the amount of the effect by lowering the Opacity slider. You can also sample different presets by loading in other files.

Save a Custom Preset File

Once you’ve found a Color Lookup adjustment you like, you can save it as a custom preset to easily reuse later:

  1. With your desired Color Lookup adjustment enabled, click the Save 3DLUT File button in the properties panel.
  2. Choose where you want to save the file and give it a descriptive name.
  3. Be sure to save it with the .cube file extension.
  4. Click Save to export your custom preset file.

Your custom preset will now be available alongside any downloaded preset files you have. To use it again, simply load it like we covered above.

Batch Apply a Preset to Images

You can automate applying your custom presets to multiple images using Photoshop Actions. Here’s a quick overview:

  1. Open the Actions panel in Photoshop.
  2. Click the ‘Create new action’ icon and name your action.
  3. Click Record and carry out the steps to apply your preset on an image.
  4. When done, click Stop.
  5. To batch apply, go to File > Automate > Batch and set the action to run on a folder of images.

This will allow you to streamline applying your preset to dozens or hundreds of photos all at once!

Tips for Creating Custom Presets

Here are some helpful tips when making your own Color Lookup presets:

  • Try starting from one of the downloaded preset files and customizing it further.
  • Use adjustment layers like Levels or Curves along with Color Lookup for more control.
  • Don’t go overboard! Subtle adjustments tend to look more natural.
  • Preview your preset on a variety of photos to ensure it works for different subjects.
  • Organize your custom presets into folders by theme (B&W, matte, cinematic etc).

With a bit of practice, you’ll be an expert at creating and using custom color and tone presets with Color Lookup in Photoshop!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about working with Color Lookup presets in Photoshop:

Where are Photoshop’s default presets located?

Photoshop’s built-in Color Lookup presets are stored in the application folder. You can access them by going to Preset > Color Lookup Default Presets in the dropdown menu.

Can I install presets permanently?

Yes, you can install downloaded preset packs permanently by copying or moving the .look files into Photoshop’s preset folder location:

Program Files > Adobe > Adobe Photoshop > Presets > Color Lookup

Why does my preset change the image colors differently each time?

This is likely because you are applying the Color Lookup as an adjustment layer rather than directly on the image layer. Delete the layer and apply the preset directly to the image layer for consistent results.

How do I apply a preset in Lightroom?

In Lightroom’s Develop module, use the Color Grading panel. Click the folder icon to browse and select a .cube preset file. Check the box to enable the preset.

Can I use Color Lookup presets in video editing?

Yes, Color Lookup .cube files are compatible with video editing programs like Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro. Simply import a preset into the Lumetri Color panel to apply.


Learning how to install and use custom Color Lookup presets can save you huge amounts of time by automating complex color grading tasks in Photoshop. By following the steps in this guide, you’ll unlock the ability to quickly style your photos with creative color presets tailored to your needs. Keep experimenting with the Color Lookup tool and build up a library of go-to presets to use across all your projects.