An approach is introduced to accurately explore methods of fabricating photonic crystals formed by holographic lithography. Analytical background is given for synthesizing the exposure beam configuration to form the desired lattice. This is combined with a comprehensive model that can predict lattice distortions due to physics of the photolithography process. Simulations are compared to experimental results and to results obtained by conventional intensity threshold methods.© (2005) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.