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An easy cross-processing technique

By September 8, 2017 Photography No Comments

As digital photography develops, ironically there is an increasing desire for vintage or cross-processed style images.

These are images in which colours are shifted slightly, and often appear muted. Traditionally, cross-processing was achieved by using colour transparency chemicals to process colour negative film and vice versa. Creating a digital cross-process look can be done in a number of ways. This process will allow you to achieve a cross-process look in just a few easy steps!

Step 1: Curves

Firstly, use a ‘Curves Adjustment’ to boost contrast to give a starting point to work with colour tones. To do this, go to Layer (on the top of your Photoshop menu), then Adjustment Layer, then finally click on ‘Curves.’ This will add an adjustment layer in your Layers palette and the Curves adjustment tab should open accordingly. With the curve adjustment tab open, raise the curve on the right higher than the horizontal point to increase the brightness and contrast.

Step 2: Selective colour

Next you need to remove the darker tones in the photograph and ‘tone’ them to a specific colour. The best way to do this is by using the ‘Selective Color’ option by making a new adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color). This will now be open on the right-hand side of your screen near your Layers palette. You might find it helpful to remove the ‘blacks’ and tone them off-colour, this helps the photograph to look more ‘aged.’ On this step, adjust your blacks and neutrals and add a colour of your choice. In this instance the cyans and blacks were toned down and the yellows boosted.

Step 3: Neutrals

Once you’ve adjusted the darker tones in the photograph, repeat the same step as above but adjust the ‘neutrals’ within the image. This adds a natural tone throughout the image and helps enhance the cross-process look. The best way to know what works for the tones in your photograph is to experiment with the sliders until you’re happy with the result.

Step 4: Whites

Once you’re happy with your dark and neutral tone adjustment, it’s time to change the whites to an ‘off-white’ appearance to further enhance the era of the photograph. Repeat the above steps so you have a fresh new adjustment layer, but this time use the ‘whites’ on the selective adjustment option tab. Here the whites have been adjusted by reducing the Magenta slider by –30 and increasing the Yellow slider by +10.

Step 5: Colour fill

Add an overall tone to the image using ‘Color Fill.’ This enables you to enhance the warmth of your image and to boost the cross-process look. To do this, add an adjustment layer by going to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color. If you’re looking to enhance the warmth (like in this specific photo) go for a dull yellow colour. If you’re looking for a colder tone, then use a cold blue tone. Once you’ve chosen your colour, you will need to select your layer mode so that it’s on ‘Multiply’ and reduce the opacity to your preference. Here it’s adjusted to 15%.

Step 6: Finally

When you’re finally happy with your adjustments, flatten all of your layers (Layer > Flatten Image) and add Noise to your image. For this particular image, there’s 2.5% of noise and the options of Gaussian and Monochromatic for the best results. Please note: this step can be skipped if you have a different preference on the noise in your image or it is already present.

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