Using the Contrast Channel Technique for an unlimited number of cross process effects

Using the Contrast Channel Technique for an unlimited number of cross process effects

Photoshop Techniques

Discovered by accident and very popular in the 1960s, the cross process effect is the look achieved by processing film with the wrong type of chemicals. It ends up enabling you to create an image with drastically different colors and contrast. This effect can be easily reproduced in Photoshop using the Curves and Levels to alter the tone of the image.

But instead of creating a single cross process effect using Photoshop Curves and Levels, I will show you how to create an unlimited number of them with a very simple technique using only a 3 Brightness/Contrast layers setup that you can use on any image that you want.

If you want to follow this tutorial as described to have a better idea of how to control the values used, you can use the same image we're using from Pixabay: Download

Step 1

Open your image in Photoshop.

Step 2

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast. Name this Layer as ‘Reds’ and click ok.

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast. Name this Layer as ‘Greens’ and click ok.

Step 4

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast. Name this Layer as ‘Blues’ and click ok.

Step 5

Select the ‘Reds’ layer and go to Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options. Uncheck the ‘G’ and ‘B’ Channels and click OK.

Step 6

Select the ‘Greens’ layer and go to Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options. Uncheck the ‘R’ and ‘B’ Channels and click OK.

Step 7

Select the ‘Blues’ layer and go to Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options. Uncheck the ‘R’ and ‘G’ Channels and click OK.

Step 8

Select the ‘Reds’ layer and in the Brightness/Contrast Properties Panel, enable the ‘Use Legacy’ option. Do the same for the ‘Greens’ and ‘Blues’ layers.

Step 9

Now that we have the setup for all the layers, simply start playing with the Brightness and Contrast values of each layer to achieve an unlimited number of cross processing effects like the samples below.

In this case, I have used a Contrast Value of -45 for the Red, 25 for the Greens and -30 for the Blues.

Here, the Contrast Value is set to 25 for the Red, -15 for the Greens and 40 for the Blues.

Some Final Notes

Now, instead of changing the Curves of every channel and the image Levels to adjust the effect in Photoshop, you can have a better and simpler control of the effect just by dragging the Brightness/Contrast slider on any of the 3 layers.


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