How to Use Color Grading in Adobe Lightroom Classic

How to Use Color Grading in Adobe Lightroom Classic

Lightroom color grading

Besides making your photos warmer or cooler, you can also edit certain sections of the image. In addition, you can change the luminance.

If you’re wondering how to use and get the most out of color grading in Lightroom Classic, read on.

Warmer tones

A warm tone refers to a more golden and welcoming image. Giving your photos this look works especially well when taking photos in hot weather or around golden hour.

To create a warm tone in your photos, you’ll want to focus primarily on your reds, yellows, and oranges.

When you’re ready to create warmer tones in Lightroom, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Launch the Lightroom app and open the image you want to edit.

2nd step: Choose Expand in the upper right corner.

Color grading of Lightroom Select images

Color grading of Lightroom Select images

Step 3: Scroll down to Color Calibration in the sidebar on the right. You will find it under the HSL / Color tab.

Lightroom scroll down color grading

Lightroom scroll down color grading

Step 4: Choose the color wheel relative to the area of ​​your image that you want to edit.

Step 5: Click on the middle circle in the wheel and drag to the right, playing until you get a result you want.

Changing Lightroom warm tones

Changing Lightroom warm tones

Step 6: Repeat the process for any other parts of the image that you want to edit.

Once you are done, you can export your image and download it anywhere you want.

Cooler tones

Sometimes you’ll want to make your photos look darker. And while the warmer tones can look a bit odd on an overcast day, the cooler ones will improve the look of your image and capture what you felt when you took the shot.

Instead of reds, yellows, and oranges, you’ll want to look at the other end of the color wheel for cooler tones. Namely, you will need to focus on the blues, greens, and purples.

To create cooler tones in your photo, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Open Lightroom Classic on your computer.

2nd step: Import or scroll to the image you want to edit.

Step 3: As with warmer tones, click the Develop tab and scroll down to Color Grading.

Lightroom Development tab

Lightroom Development tab

Step 4: On each wheel, change the look of that part of the image. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for this; you will need to see how this fits into your individual image.

Changing cooler tones in Lightroom

Changing cooler tones in Lightroom

Step 5: Repeat the process for each part of the image until you are satisfied with the result.

If you want to change the colors of the entire image – both for warmer and cooler tones – follow the same steps above until the third. When you get to this one click on the wheel at the end called Global. Then you can change the tones.

Lightroom individual wheel

Lightroom individual wheel


In addition to changing the colors in your photo, you can use color grading in Lightroom to change the luminance in specific areas. This is much more effective when you don’t want to change the entire image – for example, if you are just not happy with the highlights.

To change the luminance of a particular part of your image using Lightroom, you need to follow the steps below.

Step 1: Once you’ve uploaded your image, clicked expand, and scrolled down to Color Graduation, look for the eye icon under each wheel.

Lightroom luminance sliders

Lightroom luminance sliders

2nd step: Click on the cursor. If you want to darken the luminance, scroll left. On the other hand, you can move the marker to the right if you want to increase it.

Step 3: Repeat for every other section unless you are happy with the look of the image.

Mixture and balance

If you have changed all areas of an image but are not completely satisfied, you can use the blend and balance tools.

Blending will change how closely your shadows and highlight changes clash. During this time, Libra will focus on these two elements as well as the midtones.

The image changes when you scroll left or right.

If you want to use the merge and balance tools, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Choose the image you want to edit, go to Develop and scroll down to Color Graduation.

2nd step: Scroll under the wheels. You will see both options right after.

Lightroom blend and balance sliders

Lightroom blend and balance sliders

Step 3: Adjust the blend and balance sliders as much or as little as you want.

Try to play with the colors in your image

Color grading is a simple tool at heart, but it has the power to transform the look of your images. It may take a while to learn how to use it, but eventually you will get the hang of it. Trial and error is essential.

Once you’ve changed your image, it’s a good idea to step away from your screen for a while. When you return, you’ll see if you’ve overdone or not, and then you can edit them accordingly.

Last updated on May 15, 2021

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