This tutorial describes one of my favorite techniques for ‘spicing’ up a photograph. This method is adapted from the color darkroom of old. In those days, innovative photographers often processed film in a chemical solution intended for another type of film. For instance, they might process color slide film in C-41 chemicals. The result yielded a most unusual shift in color, which created a very retro look. To recreate this technique using the computer is both easy and fun.

Begin with a processed image that has high contrast. Despite selecting a high contrast image, add even more contrast by selecting a curves adjustment layer from your layers palette.

Repeat this process by adding yet another curves adjustment layer, this layer will be used to create the cross processed look. Inside that curves adjustment layer you will select each channel individually from the drop down menu, begin with the Red Channel.

The basic rule of thumb is to raise the red and green in the highlights, and to drop the red and green in the shadows. The reverse is true in the blue channel.

Drop the blue in the highlights and raise the blue in the shadows.

Note as you work through the previous steps that much of the adjusting is based on your own personal preference. Each of your adjustments is up to you and should match your vision of how the image should look.

At the conclusion of these steps, the result will resemble a twisted helix

Once you have completed your desired adjustments to each channel, click ok to immediately change the blending mode to color.

As a final touch, you may choose to add even a bit more contrast. It is surprising just how much contrast a cross processing layer will pull out of your image.

You have now created a fine cross processed digital image.

Share & Enjoy


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  1. Deke (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Thanks for this tutorial. This has given me a way to give some of my photos a unique look.

  2. ev (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    I am using PS 7. Where can I find curves adjustment layer from the layers palette?
    I would like to create a fine cross processed digital image.

  3. dave (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    looks cool, and you’ve helped me to make sense of the “curves” tool,
    cheers.

  4. Anthea (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Great tutorial, for someone who is new to ‘curves’ it is easy to follow. Cross-processing is so cool!

  5. benshead (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Nice image! Christmas Cove? Boothbay?

  6. jose maria (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    deseo que si es posible, se me comuniquen todos los correos y noticias, en castellano, de lo contrario no me entero de nada, gracias

  7. Koka (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Nice tutorial!
    if you like this tut, you might be interested in this one as well: http://veerle.duoh.com/blog/comments/photoshop_vintage_effect/

    ciao
    koka

  8. Tofudisan (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Neat. It would be cool to show the before/after next to each other (or use a javascript rollover to switch them out).

  9. parth (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    it’s ok

  10. zelophoto.com (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Awesome! I just tried it on some video footage and it looks great!

  11. zelophoto.com (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    ooooooooohhhh, I just tried it on some Super8 movie film footage I shot in NYC this past October and it looks super cool. Thanks again and again!

  12. unfocusedbrain.com (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Once you find a few of these settings that you like you can save them as presets.

  13. Alan Hogan (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Wicked cool.

  14. dipen (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    hi, buddy
    you did wery good work, and give us more
    such a work to improve our photography. thanks

  15. Anthony Bianco (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    i got it to work. But why and what do you do to the first adjustment layer? Also dafter clicking OK to second adjustment layer did you then go to layers palette and adjust the blend mode from normal to colour?

  16. Adam (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Hi! I like this tutorial and the effect too :) Could You tell the input and output values for the curve You used? or export the curve and share it with us as a basic starting point :)

    Thanks in advance and have fun!

  17. jhm (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    @ev I don’t think PS 7 has curves as adjustment layers (but it will have curves, you just need to work on a copy of your image since it’s non-reversible). Look up ‘curves’ in PS Help (press F1) to find out where they are hiding in PS 7.

  18. cheryl (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Hi there,
    i am using adobe photoshop CS3 my problem is that, the images i was trying add up on my work space didn’t appear. How am i goin’ to solve this problem?
    Thank you for the response!^^

  19. jd (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    I tried this out and loved it! Aaack where have you been all my life? :) )

  20. k (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    I LOVE IT. thank you so much.
    so simple but the outcome is pretty awesome!

  21. iren s. (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    i don’t like to use curves..at all. is there any other good method to achive the cross pro?

  22. Michael (iltp.dk) (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Awesome tut, simple but effective

  23. Gusto (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Cool tips. Simple not special at the fisrt glance, but still usefull

  24. jef (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    cool!
    very!

  25. [...] Curvy Cross Processing in Photoshop CS3 [...]

  26. megan (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    how cool! thank you so much for putting this on the web for free. i love the cross process style, but it is very expensive. you have no idea how much i appreciate this. thank you thank you thank you

  27. [...] when it comes to landscapes and skies. It’s great to use the RGB curves separately to fake a cross processed look or pull some red out of the mid-tones easily. It looks like a round trip to Photoshop is needed for [...]

  28. Caitlin B. (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Thanks so much for sharing your Photoshop skills with the photography world. It is definitely helping me further my education!

  29. [...] Adobe Photoshop Tutorial | Digital Photography | Cross Processing | Create High-Contrast Photos | La… – [...]

  30. [...] Adobe Photoshop Tutorial | Digital Photography | Cross Processing | Create High-Contrast Photos | La… – [...]

  31. [...] Adobe Photoshop Tutorial | Digital Photography | Cross Processing | Create High-Contrast Photos | La… – [...]

  32. [...] Adobe Photoshop Tutorial | Digital Photography | Cross Processing | Create High-Contrast Photos | La… – [...]

  33. [...] Processed’. In the old days, you would do this by processing film in the ‘wrong’ chemicals. HERE is one tutorial, there are probably thousands of them out there. __________________ Edmonton [...]

  34. Ale (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Thanks for this!!! It’s simple and awesome, and the tutorial It’s very simple too.

    Thank you!

  35. [...] Curvy Cross Processing in Photoshop CS3 [...]

  36. [...] Curvy Cross Processing in Photoshop CS3 [...]

  37. Evelyn T (Reply) on Thursday February 21, 2008

    Thank you for this post, I have been wondering for sometime how to tweak it that way. This is cool!

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