Getting started can seem daunting if you’re new to DaVinci Resolve and color grading.
So, I’ve dug deep into the YouTube hive mind and found some of the best free online tutorials for learning color grading in DaVinci Resolve.
When you’ve seen these, you’ll have a solid foundation to begin moving into the more advanced stuff. I recommend you watch the videos in the order they’re presented here.
Table of Contents
1. From Beginner to Hero in DaVinci Resolve 16 by Color Grading Central
This Denver Riddle of Color Grading Central tutorial is a great step-by-step beginner’s tutorial that walks you through all the basics of using DaVinci Resolve.
Denver is a professional colorist and great teacher, and he walks you through everything from creating your first project, editing, color grading, creating your first (orange and teal) look, mixing audio, and finally exporting it.
He walks you through all the different panels and pages and explains how to use them.
He also goes into some basic tools, advanced tools, shortcuts, nodes, and shared nodes for easy color correction across multiple clips.
In short, this great free tutorial will give you a solid foundation and understanding of DaVinci Resolve and the basics of color grading.
You might also be interested in this article about the difference between color correction and color grading.
2. A Guide to Nodes in DaVinci Resolve by Casey Faris
Even though this tutorial is a couple of years old, it still does an excellent job explaining the basics of nodes in DaVinci Resolve.
Casey Faris goes deeper with nodes than the first video on this list and breaks down serial, parallel, layer, outside, and splitter/combiner notes.
In short, this is an excellent video for understanding the basic node types in DaVinci Resolve and how you can use them to create the look you want.
3. How To Use The Tracker in DaVinci Resolve by MiesnerMedia
DaVinci Resolve has an excellent built-in tracker that can be used for many things (like the poles in the first video).
Here, Theo from MiesnerMedia goes more in-depth with the tracker’s capabilities, and you get to see how you can use it for creating highlights on the faces of moving subjects, which is super handy, e.g. if you’re shooting a lot of corporate interviews and stuff.
Mind you, Theo is using DaVinci Resolve 14, so it might look slightly different from yours, but the same principles still apply.
4. Using Skin Tones To White Balance WITHOUT White by Color Grading Central
Here’s another great tutorial by Denver Riddle from Color Grading Central.
In this tutorial, he gives you a way to deal with a common problem when color correcting your footage: white balancing your footage when there isn’t any white in the image.
You don’t always get the luxury of having something white appear naturally in your image, or you might forget to use a color chart or white card to set your white balance before the cameras start rolling.
So, knowing how to white balance footage without any white is something every colorist and video editor will encounter at some point.
In this video, Denver walks you through three ways you can use skin tones as a constant to white-balance your footage.
The trick is to isolate the skin of your subject and then adjust the temperature and tint (Premiere Pro), the color wheels (DaVinci Resolve), or the custom curves (Final Cut) so that the skin tones align perfectly with the flesh line on the vectorscope.
In short, this is a trick everyone dealing with color correction and grading should know, so check out the video above.
5. Importing & Apply LUTs in DaVinci Resolve from We Are Film
Look-up tables, aka LUTs, are a popular way to quickly get a specific look you like from your favorite movie or to quickly try out some different looks for your footage and then dial in to taste.
Here’s a selection of free LUTs to help make your footage look more cinematic.
In this video, Camera Gallagher from We Are Film walks you through the basic workflow of using LUTs in DaVinci Resolve, from installing LUTs to previewing and applying them.
6. How to Color Grade Log Footage and Avoid the Common Mistakes by Gerald Undone
Shooting in LOG has become a popular format to record video in due to its added dynamic range and flexibility when color grading.
Color grading LOG footage is a bit different than correcting regular rec709 footage.
Gerald from Gerald Undone breaks down how to color-grade LOG footage in this beginner’s tutorial.
You need correctly exposed LOG footage to get the best results, so you should know how to expose to the right (ETTR).
If you don’t know how to ETTR, here’s a quick video by Paul Leeming that shows you how to do it.
In the video from Gerald Undone, he walks you through the differences between LOG and Linear footage, why you can’t add contrast to LOG footage, what pivot does in Resolve, applying LUTs to LOG footage, and a lot more.
7. How to Color Match Cameras & Grade Log Footage without a LUT (advanced) by Gerald Undone
To follow up on the video above, here is a more advanced tutorial from Gerald Undone on color-matching footage from different cameras.
Color-matching footage from different cameras is also something everyone will encounter at some point, whether that be minor differences between cameras such as the GH5 and GH5S or bigger differences between cameras such as Sony and Canon.
In this awesome video, Gerald walks you through his step-by-step process of matching colors from two cameras.
So that’s it.
Of course, there is much more to color grading than what you’ll learn from these videos, and professional colorists practice for years to perfect their skills.
But everyone has to start somewhere, and I hope you, by watching these videos and practicing the things taught in them, feel you’ve gotten a solid foundation to start color correcting and color grading your own footage.