Useful Color Grading Chart for Lightroom


Hello and welcome to Denny’s tips. In my previous tutorial I taught you how to create and use a tone chart in Photoshop however, things are different in Lightroom and we can’t really create the same tone chart in Lightroom as we can in Photoshop using the tone curve and color adjustments in Lightroom is also quite difficult so to make things easier I created for you this chart. You can place your own photo in the chart and use it as a reference then you can take these settings that you apply to this chart and use it as a lightroom presets that you can apply to your other photos but this tribe goes a bit further than a big contract I trees in my previous video and instead of just letting you use the tone curve insert, it also has a color chart that makes color adjustment easier as well this technique is useful whenever you want to color grade a single photo with good control, or if you want to create an entire pack of lightroom presets to share with others. So, if you’re interested keep watching and I’ll show you how it works. Before we begin the tutorial, look at this gradient if you notice any color banding like this or like this, anywhere in your chart. It means that there might be something wrong with your monitor’s color calibration. The gradient you see right now should appear to be gray scale on your monitor. Check carefully from left to right if you see any color banding, try recalibrating your monitor or just temporarily disabling your monitor’s profile for now. When learning to use the tone curve it’s important that this chart looks accurate on your monitor ratio with no color banding. Ok so hopefully everything is fine let’s start the tutorial. First, you need to download chart that I made for you and you you can find the download link in the video description. There’s two chart you can use, one is for lightroom and the other is for photoshop. For this video I’ll be showing you how to use the chart in Lightroom. I’ll get to photoshop chart in another video, but to use this chart in Lightroom you’ll first need to place a photo of your choice inside the chart. If you have a photo in Lightroom, you can just “right click” on the thumbnail and go to “Edit In” ->”Open a smart object in Photoshop” and then place the tone chart you want over your photo. You can use any image editing software to do this but I already have one done here. When you have your image loaded, switch to the “develop mode” basically, this chart lets you see what you’re doing when you use the tone curve and color adjustments. Let’s start with the tone curve, this tone chart makes using a tone curve way easier and more accurate than this, to do by hand. If you haven’t seen my previous video on how to use the tone chart, you can click here to watch it. It’s for photoshop but it has some great tips on how to use the tone chart and how you can use it to create a lot of different effects. For this tutorial, I’m going to be creating an effect similar to one of my favorite photographers – Masashi Wakui. He takes amazing photos but what makes the photos really stand out, as this post processing style. It’s very strong, it’s noticeable and because of that, it’s also very suitable for this tutorial. Just a note, this chart is useful even if you’re creating very subtle effects like film looks. You can also use it to experiment and come up with your own effects from scratch. Instead of doing what I’m doing and trying to replicate someone else’s effect. But, as a demonstration I’ll be replicating Masashi Wakui’s post-processing style to give you a very brief look into color grading, but also, because it’s easier for you to see what’s going on because his effect is just very strong and noticeable. First, I’m gonna look at one of Wakui’s photos. I like this photo here so I’m gonna try to replicate something similar or at least inspired by it. Now it’s probably not going to look exactly like it and it doesn’t have to be. But anyways, when we’re analyzing effects; the first step is to look at the shadows and highlights. So we can see in this photo with that the blacks have been lifted to the darkest areas have been made brighter. There’s also a slight blue green tint. If we look at this like here, we can see that there is a yellow tint, so that’s something that we can keep in mind. Over here we have some reds, now he might have used a gradient map in Photoshop to do this, but you can get something very similar with just the tone curves. So, I’m looking here and I’m pretty sure it’s not in the whites and it’s also not in the mid-tones, so, I’m guessing that is in between which is probably the highlights. So I’m just gonna keep that in mind. So now that we know what we want, let’s try creating it in Lightroom. First, go to your “tone curves” adjustment there’s two tone curves mode in Lightroom. Simply put one is for beginners and it restricts what you can do so that you don’t mess up your photo. The other is for advance users and it gives you way more flexibility and control and that’s the one that we’re going to be using. If you don’t see it you can click on this button here to switch between the two modes, don’t be scared by the tone curve, it’s actually quite easy when you use the tone chart. So start by selecting this targeted adjustment tool. To still let’s you point anywhere in your image to create our point on your tone curve, but instead of clicking on your image we’re going to click on the chart and drag vertically to adjust the values. You’ll notice that there are three rows in the tone chart; the top roll is a five zone chart which gives you the blacks, shadows, mid-tones highlights and whites. The second row is for finer control in case you need to target more specific tonal ranges such as one in between like the mid-tones and highlights. The bottom row is actually not for sampling, it’s only for visualization and the point of it, is so that you can see the effect that you’re creating and it’s also to ensure that your results are smooth and gradual. I’ll tell you more about why this is important later. First let’s create a faded look by lifting the blacks like this and then dropping the whites like this. I’m going to play around with the outer three zones to get the tone closer to what I’m going for. When you’re done, you’ll get a tone curve that looks like this. It’s clean and it’s simple. The horizontal position of the points they are all very even and this is an example of a tone curve that you should be creating. Tone curve should looks simple and clean. Next we’re going to start using the red green and blue channel. This is the hardest part about using the tone curve but using the chart makes it a lot easier. So let’s look back at Masashi Wakui’s photo. And looking here, we can see that there’s some blue greens in the shadows. So I’m gonna go back into lightroom and in the tone curve, I’m going to switch the blue channel and lift the shadows up like this. And then I’m going to drop the mid-tones, so the blue is only showing up in the shadows and is so that it doesn’t affect mid-tones and highlights. Ok so I’m done. Next, we’re going to switch to the green channel and do the same thing that we did to the in similar color. I’m just going to get something similar to Wakui’s photo instead of trying to get the same effect. So I’m just going to lift this up and do the same thing I did with the blue channel. The next thing to do is to add a yellow tint to the whites, so for that, we’re going to switch to the blue channel. Yellow is the opposite color of blue, so we can simply drag the whites down with this to reduce the blues in this area which in effect creates a yellow tint. Finally, I’m going to switch to the red channel. I think it’s in the tonal range around here, so I’m going to lift the tones in this area but it’s also affecting the other zones so now I’m going to drop them back down like this. I want to be a little bit more precise so, I’m gonna move nine zone tone chart and play around with these zones around here like this. Remember earlier how I talked about the gradient here and how it should be smooth and gradual. Well if I adjusted it to the tone like this, it’s a very drastic change and you can see at the gradient here it isn’t very smooth anymore. We’re going from red to green, you might start getting some color banding issues essentially it’s like this. The smoother your gradient is, the safer it is to use another photos. And if you’re using this technique to create lightroom presets you definitely want to ensure that the gradient is smooth. I wanna lift us back up, by the way, if you need to do any points you can simply drag the point out of the chart like this. The effect doesn’t quite look perfect so I’m going to the channels and tweak settings a bit. Now the best way to learn the tone curve is really just to experiment and get the gist or the feeling of how it works. You don’t need to know exactly which tone you should adjust or what shape your tone curve should be, really the most important thing is you get the instinctive feeling of how it works so it feels second nature to you and that’s really the best tip I can give you, to keep experimenting with the tone curve until it feels like it’s second nature. Okay so we’re done with the tone curve if you want to save it you can do it by clicking on this drop-down menu here and selecting “save”, this won’t let you access the same tone curve at any time from this drop down menu. You can also save this as a lighting preset by pressing this plus sign button here in the presets panel make sure that you disliked everything and only enabled the curve and processed version options. Give it a name and then click the “Create” button and you got your very own preset, but we’re not done. What about this bottom color chart? While the tone curve can create the block of your color effect but there’s more you can do although some effects like the Instagram natural effect, it can be created with just the tone curves and nothing else. Other effects like film looks they get their characteristic by altering the colors and by colors I mean the hue, saturation and luminance. So let’s get to this part. For this section here, we’re going to use the HSL adjustments, you can find it by opening the HSL panel and clicking on the “All Tab”, once you’re here you can start playing around with the settings. I actually prefer using these sliders and select the targeted selection tool because when you use the tool, it tends to affect more than one color at a time like this. Here’s how to use a chart, there are four roles in this chart the first is a “gradient” to ensure that your results are smooth. The second is the “hue” so you can see exactly what hue you’re getting, next is the “saturation” and finally, the last one is for luminance. When you’re making adjustments to a hue, look at the hue chart here. If you’re making changes to the saturation, look at the saturation chart. Same thing with a luminance. This lets you visualize how you’re affecting the colors and it can sometimes act as a warning system in case you make any changes that are way too strong. How you adjust the color is up to you, I usually like to start with the hue and the saturation and the lightness. Play around with the settings to get something that you like, sometimes these color settings may not seem like they’re making such a drastic change as you are getting with the tone curves but these settings gives you the unique color characteristic that you see in traditional film. That said, if you’re trying to create something like a desaturated futuristic look you can definitely do that and just desaturate everything down. As we’re adjusting, make sure you keep an eye on the color gradient we want to ensure that the gradient is always smooth if you get any hard spots like this and I’m just going to do something crazy so you can see as an example. You can see here that the gradient isn’t very smooth at all. It has a very sharp change and if you see this you want to go back and try reducing some of your settings to make sure that it’s a smooth gradual transition. Remember, just like what the tone chart, hard edges in your gradient might work fine on the photo that you’re working on right now, but, it might not look so great in other photos. The smoother the gradient, the safer it is. When you’re done you can update your previous preset by “right-clicking” on it and selecting the update option, or you can save it as a “new preset” by clicking on this plus sign in the presets panel. Make sure that the only things check are the tone curve, color adjustments and processed version. We’re done with this chart. Congratulations for making it this far, but before we go, I want to point out two things that are really cool. First, let’s look at the develop settings here the settings are all untouched. The white balance untouched, exposure untouched, contrasts, highlights, whites.. Everything here is untouched and that’s really amazing because it means that your preset won’t make you re-retouch your photo. What I mean by re-retouching a photo is that most people start by fixing the photos they corrected white balance, exposure, and other settings. But if you’ve done this and let’s pretend we shot a wedding with 500 photos, we fix the white balance and exposure – all 500 photos. The last thing that we want to do is apply a preset that overwrites are settings forcing us to fix the white balance and exposure all over again. That’s a huge waste of time, so by creating minimal presets like this, just like with the tone curve and the hsl, not only it is faster to render, it also saves you a lot of time. Here are some examples of effects I created using the same technique. Hey guys! Thanks for watching this video now lightroom isn’t anywhere as powerful as photoshop and it’s pretty limited to what it can do but I hope that this reference chart will make things a little bit easier for you, also if you like this video then you might like my previous video on how to match tones in Photoshop. It’s a great technique and it’s the first time that’s ever been taught so if you’re interested click on the video to watch it. Anyways, thanks again for watching, guys. I hope you have an awesome day. Let me know what you think in the comments and if you haven’t already, hit the subscribe button below.

38 Replies to “Useful Color Grading Chart for Lightroom”

  1. this is a fantastic tutorial – I've subscribed. One thing I would change is the music – I'd rather no music than the current background choice.

  2. This is amazing! My only question is what happens next after I put the chart on the photo? How do I adjust afterwards? Because from the video it looks like your cursor is on the photo itself and not on the point curve in the sidebar.

  3. Thanks for another great tutorial. You should see about doing some of this tone Curve and Color Grading instruction on CreativeLive! You do it very well.

  4. Oh man! Nice too see that you love Masashi Wakui too! Could you make a whole video about his editing style?

  5. Great video, thanks I will go out in evening and make some cityscapes and try to make it more film like cause so far I am struggling to get what I have in mind and I think your technique might help me 🙂 Thanks and will inform on results 😀

  6. Hello Denny, I can't seem to find the download button after clicking that link. I have subscribed hoping that button to pop out. Help please?

  7. Amazing video and very well explained this and the last two videos of tones and color hsl are great as well now I know how to better refine my photos thank you so much Denny I watched a lot of other videos on here and these are the best

  8. if you have to open the picture in photoshop to overlay the chart, then wouldn't you just edit the curves in photoshop as well?

  9. I'm doing something wrong. I open my image in PS, insert the chart and save it. Then when I set my color and want to sync if with the rest of pictures, the colors are wrong. I have set ProPhoto for external editing and when I'm setting the color on saved tiff, the result doesn't look similar on dng files. What is wrong? Thanks.

  10. Great video Denny! Could you teach us how to achieve this effect to our photos: www.behance.net/gallery/36515391/SWIMM The lights, shadows, colors, sharp and skin effect? I proved several methods but I couldn't match them together perfectly . I don't want to copy the style just to know how its done, PLEASE! Thank you!

  11. This is genius!!! I'm so thankful. You've done a great job with the tone chart, I would have never thought of something like that. Thanks again. I'm subscribing right now.

  12. IM opening as a smart object in photoshop but I dont want to edit it in photoshop but LR? what im doing wrong???

  13. Thank you for your tutorials. I found them to be very helpful in understanding how to Color grade and how to set up my own using the tone curve.

  14. hi Denny I hope you see this
    first that is a great video thanks a lot !!!
    I didn't understand how I connect the color png file to the image in Lightroom ?

  15. I'm hoping you can answer a few questions about using this chart with raw files. For external editing in lightroom it is set as ProPhotoRGB at 16bit and the png provided seems to be an 8bit sRBG. Should I be worried about this conversion? After I save a copy with the chart as a TIFF in photoshop it has limited slider ranges in lightroom like an 8 bit image. Does that mean I should WB my image before I add this chart? Maybe this tool is mean for JPEGs? Thanks for the help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *