How to color grade like Game of Thrones


 

In this article, we will learn how to emulate a look from HBO’s Game of Thrones. First, the show has a really distinct look for every location they are in, so when they are in King’s Landing, everything is more vivid and on the yellow side. In contrast, at The Wall, everything is darker, a bit of crushed blacks and a blue overtone.

To simplify your life, we made a GoT inspired LUT pack with 8 looks available in our store.

Color grading is a bit of push and pull until you get the look you want, on top of that, there is a lot of variables you can play with to get a super precise grading, but in the spirit of keeping this tutorial to the point, we will just do a simple global adjustment.

For this example, we will use Braavos as our look to emulate. This look is desaturated, has a Yellow and Greenish color tone to it, which will be perfect to play with a few adjustments.

braavos

At this point, I usually pull up my color correction tools, you can see our tutorial on the basic color correction tools here. To do so, in Premiere Pro, you can go in Window and select Lumetri Scopes. These tools are available in any other programs like DaVinci Resolve or After Effects, and should be located in a similar menu. If you have 2 monitors, I would suggest having your scopes on one screen and having an extra reference monitor window up next to your timeline, that way you always have the shot you want to match there for you to look at while doing the adjustments.

Game of thrones comparison

Once the tools are up, we can now analyze the two shots and look at the disparities. If we look at the vectorscope first, we can see the Braavos shot has less saturation than our shot. Now on the RGB parade, we can see the Red and Green values are higher than the Blue value, which tell us there is a Yellow dominant color to this image. And finally, if we look at the Luma, we can see the blacks need to be close to being crushed and the overall contrast need to be adjusted.

Now, we know in which direction we need to push our image to so we can start working those values! In Premiere Pro, Lumetri Color effect is probably, in my opinion, the most intuitive tool you can use to do color correction and grading.
Once the effect is applied (drag and drop on your clip), we can pull down the menu from the effect control panel.

lumetri color

Let’s start with matching our saturation, down in Lumetri Color under Basic Correction we can bring this slider down until we have a similar saturation to the reference shot. Keep an eye on your vectorscope as you are doing so, it will give you some indication that you are on the right track.

Game of Thrones Comparison Saturation

At this point our saturation should be to our liking, we may need to get back to it later, like I was saying push and pull. Now, we can start working on the contrast. Again, under Basic Correction, we can start adjusting the contrast a tad and the blacks until it matches our reference shot. With the Luma Monitor, we can see the progress and get it close to where we need it to.

Game of thrones comparison contrast

And lastly, we can start working on the colors, to do so, we will go under color wheels. From there, we determined earlier with the RGB parade that the Game of Thrones shot was predominantly yellow, so we need to push the color in that direction. As I said at the beginning, this will be more for a global adjustment so the midtones alone should brings us there.

Game of Thrones comparison color

At this point, we are have achieved the look we wanted, the gray is a close match and the over look and feel is achieved but to go further than the global adjustment, we can use the HSL Secondary color correction to fine tune our skin tones (or any desired color). With our shot, let’s use the dragon’s color to “somewhat” match it to Arya’s skin. First, we need to select our range with the Key section. I usually pick a middle of the road tone on my desired color and start from there.

HSL secondary

At this point, we can bring up the mask by ticking “show mask”, and we can start refining your selection with the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance sliders. Once we are happy with the selection mask, we can push the color in the right direction.

hsl mask

After removing a little bit of saturation and adding red to the HSL Secondary, we are done!

GoT_compa_final

And there you go, a similar looking color feel to the image. If you want the pre-made Game of Thrones inspired Throne’s Play LUT pack, head over to the store!

 

*All Game of Thrones images and references are the property of HBO.

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