Photoshop Tutorial: Change Day into Night with a Color Lookup Table

Transforming a bright daylight photo into a dramatic night scene can be achieved with a simple yet powerful technique in Adobe Photoshop: utilizing a Color Lookup Table (LUT). LUTs are preset color grading matrices that can instantly alter the overall color and tone of an image. In this tutorial, we’ll explore how to effectively employ LUTs to transform a daytime image into a captivating night scene.

Step 1: Open and Prepare Your Image

  1. Begin by opening the daytime image you wish to convert into a night scene in Photoshop.
  2. Ensure the image is properly sized and positioned on the canvas. You may need to use tools like the Crop Tool or Transform Tool to adjust its dimensions and framing.

Step 2: Create a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer

  1. From the Adjustments panel, select the “Color Lookup” option.
  2. In the “Color Lookup” dialog box, locate and select a LUT that suits your desired night scene effect. Several readily available LUTs can be found in Photoshop’s default presets, such as “Night from Day” or “Moonlight.”
  3. Click “OK” to apply the LUT to your image. The daytime colors should immediately transform into a darker, more atmospheric night scene.

Step 3: Adjust LUT Settings and Enhance Night Effects

  1. While the LUT has significantly altered the image’s appearance, you may need to fine-tune the settings to achieve a more realistic and refined night scene.
  2. Experiment with the opacity of the Color Lookup adjustment layer. Adjusting the opacity allows you to balance the LUT’s effects with the original image’s natural lighting and shadows.
  3. If the scene appears too dark, consider using adjustment layers like “Levels” or “Curves” to brighten specific areas while maintaining the overall night atmosphere.

Step 4: Replace the Sky with a Darker Texture

  1. To enhance the illusion of a night sky, consider replacing the existing sky with a darker, more realistic texture.
  2. Use the Selection Tool or Quick Selection Tool to isolate the sky from the rest of the image.
  3. Create a new layer and fill it with a dark, midnight blue color.
  4. Place the sky texture layer above the blue layer, and use a soft, black brush to blend the edges of the texture seamlessly with the surrounding environment.

Step 5: Add Atmospheric Effects and Finishing Touches

  1. To further enhance the night scene’s atmosphere, consider adding subtle atmospheric effects such as subtle fog or mist.
  2. Use adjustment layers like “Gradient Map” or “Color Dodge” to create a gradient that fades from black to transparent, representing the gradual transition from a dark sky to the moonlit landscape.
  3. Adjust the opacity and blending mode of these adjustment layers to achieve the desired level of atmospheric depth.

Step 6: Review and Final Adjustments

  1. Carefully review your transformed night scene, ensuring the lighting, contrast, and overall atmosphere are consistent with your desired effect.
  2. Make any final adjustments to color, brightness, or contrast using adjustment layers or other editing techniques.
  3. Save your modified image in a high-quality format, such as JPEG or TIFF, to preserve the details and maintain its integrity for future use.

By following these steps and experimenting with different LUTs, adjustment layers, and atmospheric effects, you can effortlessly transform any daytime photo into a captivating night scene. The versatility of LUTs and the power of Photoshop make this technique a valuable tool for adding creative flair and enhancing the visual impact of your images.