CMSeter's blog

Cross Processing in Photoshop

posted by CMSeter, Sep 2, 2008 1:17 AM — 173 comments

Pick a photo to manipulate. Photos of people usually turn out really good with this effect, but In this case I'm using a street scene.

Straight out of the camera

I wanted as much contrast as possible so I used the technique I wrote about in my previous tutorial. I converted it to mono in two steps. Read that tutorial here.

This is what I'm using but it does NOT have to be a b/w photo. The "real" cross processing technique doesn't need any pre-editing.

Base to work from

Step 1
Add a new Curves adjustment layer. What you're after is a double colour-cast in the photo. I'm working on a grayscale image but I'm still in RGB-mode so the luminosity of the colours will still be affected. Change the blending mode to Color to keep this from happening.

The curves should look something like this:

And the photo will look like this:

Step 2
Add another adjustment layer, this time a gradient map from black to white. This will increase the contrast even more. Change the blending mode to Luminosity. Change the opacity of this layer to control the contrast better than with just the curves layer.

The photo turns out like this:

B/W gradient map

Step 3
Add a solid color adjustment layer and lower the opacity to about 10%. I used a greenish-yellow color (R207 G223 B30). This will add a haze to the entire photo and give it a more retro look.

Like this:

Another colour cast

Step 4
Now we're down to the final touches... To make the photo look more worn and grungy, add a soft gaussian blur and some noise. Just move the sliders until you're happy with what you see.

I like the ink splatters found here on sxc and I think the easiest way to use them is to fill a layer with a solid color, then add the splatter to a layer mask (the splatter should be white and the background black in the mask). I added two of those to my photo. Change the blending mode and opacity to something that looks good. I used a plain white splatter and one black with the blending mode set to soft light.

Masked ink splatters

We also need some scratches. Add a new blank layer, enter quick mask mode (Q) and fill it with black. The layer should turn red. paint a few lines with white where you want your scratches. Then use the crystallize filter at a setting around three. Exit quick mask and fill your selection with white. Change the blending mode to Overlay to get nice transitions of the colours underneath.


Nice jagged scratches

Step 5
The final step is to add a quite hard vignette. This is easily done by adding a new layer with solid black. Choose the elliptical marquee, hold down alt and drag a circle out from the middle of the photo. Feather this selection and hit delete. Change the opacity of the layer to control the effect.

Final image!

This is a quite simple way to create grungy photos. Ofcourse it can be taken further, just add more splatter and scratches :)

If you want the "true" cross processing feel just start from a colour photo and skip step 2, 3, 4 and 5. My profile photo was made in this way.

You'll end up with something like this:

It's me!

Hope you liked it!

Comments | RSS

1. posted by aszxc, Jan 27, 2010 4:15 AM

Good efect

2. posted by tchellito, Feb 6, 2009 11:45 PM

very beatifull picture...

3. posted by greatza, Nov 3, 2009 2:17 AM

respect man;)

4. posted by yawbibirak, Sep 11, 2009 9:12 AM

aferim lan uehue

5. posted by kishin7, May 20, 2009 6:41 PM

Amazing! I gotta try this when I get home. +Thanks!


6. posted by Jinlei, Aug 20, 2009 7:09 PM

Nice effect but if you want your tutorial to be done by many users you need to do a little more hold handing with the steps. Your first step is a big turn off for beginners, 'Add a new Curves adjustment layer', first question a PS newbie is going to ask is add them how, (Ctrl+M) btw. Just need to explain a bit more clearly, and this would be superb tutorial.


7. posted by lewton, Jun 14, 2010 7:50 AM

I cant see them either.

8. posted by CMSeter, Oct 20, 2008 3:18 PM

First copy the splatter, then hold the alt key and click the mask. You should be able to just paste the splatter into the mask now. Fill the layer with the colour you want the splatter to have.

9. posted by ako, Feb 13, 2009 5:13 PM

Pretty cool.. thanks

10. posted by dragonyhl, Sep 2, 2008 4:41 AM


11. posted by maxpayne13, Sep 2, 2008 7:10 AM

peter,,, it creative and nice

12. posted by plateaux, Sep 2, 2008 3:36 PM

Great tutorial! Thanx!

13. posted by rimyswit, Sep 3, 2008 1:15 PM

what photoshop version did you use coz my curves dont look like yours

14. posted by bachk, Sep 3, 2008 1:36 PM


15. posted by CMSeter, Sep 3, 2008 2:31 PM

If you use the drop down menu next to where it says Channel you can edit each colour individually. The Curves will look like that if you go back to the RGB channel afterwards. Post again if it doesn't work :)

16. posted by yo5bdm, Sep 3, 2008 3:31 PM

Superb efect

17. posted by surfchik, Sep 3, 2008 8:25 PM

KOOL.....I'm gonna try it right now. Thanks.

18. posted by brodiecast, Sep 3, 2008 8:35 PM

amazing tuto! Thanks

19. posted by CMSeter, Feb 12, 2009 2:25 PM

You should just hit the delete key, or if you're on a mac, the backspace key.

20. posted by mmason2, Sep 5, 2008 1:39 AM

very good. bravo!


21. posted by superrsk, Sep 5, 2008 5:36 AM

wow i'm korea art designer~!
^^ good!

22. posted by lilhill, Sep 6, 2008 11:16 PM

BIG thanx for the tut

23. posted by majushka3, Sep 7, 2008 6:02 PM

it looks so great!!....but i couldnt find first two steps..:(...could you maybe write where exactly to find these options in ps? be more than grateful..:)

24. posted by CMSeter, Sep 7, 2008 10:04 PM

In the layers palette (F7) you have a small black and white circle at the bottom. Just click it and a menu pops out. Then you choose Curves. Beside where it says "Channel" in the window you can choose each individual colour channel to manipulate.

The second step is also at the black and white circle. Just choose a black to white gradient in the window that pops up.

Post again if you can't get it to work.

25. posted by trawarijus, Sep 7, 2008 11:04 PM

thanks a lot!!!

26. posted by sirarom, Sep 8, 2008 3:38 PM

^0^ nice pic

27. posted by majushka3, Sep 8, 2008 5:19 PM

thnx a lot!!!!!really really just an amateur in this so thiis really helps!!!...:)

28. posted by amoorah, Sep 9, 2008 4:05 AM

wow love it so much ..
I'm gonna try it right now
I hope I could do it ... thanks =)

29. posted by arki, Nov 10, 2008 5:13 AM



30. posted by rgin, Sep 9, 2008 7:21 PM

Nice tutorial guy... i like so much.

31. posted by porah, Sep 10, 2008 9:41 AM

Useful, thanks! :))

32. posted by gokce-, Sep 10, 2008 10:08 AM

very nice work, thanks for sharing, Peter

33. posted by bambanzinh, Sep 11, 2008 1:02 AM

Uau, show mesmo!
Obrigada pela dica!

34. posted by puffycloud, Sep 14, 2008 4:45 AM

great work! i made one for myself :) hey, how did you get that 3d "bend" look on your polaroid looking picture??? thanks, luke

35. posted by CMSeter, Sep 14, 2008 2:55 PM

The bend is done with the wave filter (under distort). Just one generator, really long wavelength and a low amplitude. Add a shadow beneath, and you're done :)

36. posted by xymonau, Sep 15, 2008 10:38 AM

Nicely done. Although I don't have Photoshop, it has given me a general idea for PhotoImpact. Thank you.

37. posted by thepatt, Sep 16, 2008 8:57 AM


38. posted by Gijzo, Sep 17, 2008 11:57 AM

Hi, Thanks for the great post!
Could you export the Curve preset you used and post it?


Gijs Roskam
the Netherlands

39. posted by CMSeter, Sep 17, 2008 3:05 PM

Sorry man, I haven't kept it. And it's really not very useful anyway. You'll have to change the curves depending on the brightness and contrast in your photo. Just use the image above as a guideline.

40. posted by nassiaba, Sep 17, 2008 8:23 PM

awesome tutorial! I followed it up to the scratches and it came out really nice! Maybe in a few days I get up the courage to try scraches and splattes.

thank you!!

41. posted by Mr_Ristoo, Sep 18, 2008 4:26 PM

Thanks M8! Really helpfull...

42. posted by Piyokichi, Sep 18, 2008 4:56 PM

Cool effects man.Really appreciate your efforts.

43. posted by khalilzip, Sep 21, 2008 4:52 AM

Great tutorial

44. posted by mlaiju, Sep 22, 2008 7:10 PM

wow grear

45. posted by instrutor, Sep 22, 2008 9:00 PM

Muito bom.

46. posted by NayMcD86, Sep 24, 2008 5:43 PM

cracking tutorial cheers for the upload, doing it helped me to grasp using curves a bit better nice one

47. posted by tinnakarn, Sep 25, 2008 4:45 AM


48. posted by keyser69, Sep 25, 2008 10:08 AM

Cool man !!!!

49. posted by Murkind, Sep 25, 2008 2:34 PM

thank you )

50. posted by NayMcD86, Sep 26, 2008 7:46 PM

thanks a lot for putting this up i've used it a few times now to base works on here is my favorite example to date if your interested 98895656

so yeah thanks!!!!!!

51. posted by CMSeter, Sep 26, 2008 8:22 PM

I like it alot :D Love the contrast in the factory.

52. posted by donaire, Sep 26, 2008 8:44 PM


53. posted by NayMcD86, Sep 27, 2008 1:44 PM

thanks CMseter appreciate t feedback ;)

54. posted by bonogun, Sep 29, 2008 3:47 AM

thanks Pete!

55. posted by nataliaote, Sep 29, 2008 10:33 PM


56. posted by erimley, Sep 29, 2008 11:17 PM

i love it!!!

57. posted by Turinski, Sep 30, 2008 1:03 AM

Fantastic! Thanks so much. You could also mix it up with various frames from the plugin Extensis PhotoFrames.

58. posted by rorigg, Sep 30, 2008 4:40 AM


59. posted by kkiser, Sep 30, 2008 5:13 PM

Dude... You're awesome!!! Thanks for sharing this creative technique! :-}

60. posted by Seniya, Oct 2, 2008 9:07 AM

that is very nice job...

61. posted by msaville01, Oct 3, 2008 4:28 PM

thanks so much for that great tutorial!!!

62. posted by geri-jean, Oct 5, 2008 12:13 AM

AWESOME tutorial! Thank you :)

63. posted by ellokopepe, Oct 6, 2008 6:39 PM


64. posted by Shabana54, Oct 7, 2008 2:39 AM

Very Nice..

65. posted by L0VEH0LiC, Oct 7, 2008 4:43 AM

my gosh that's so awesome! thanks =)

66. posted by jhonny660, Oct 8, 2008 8:46 AM

thanks men !!! good work

67. posted by VinnyPrime, Oct 8, 2008 7:01 PM

I love using the gradient map for added contrast. Good call!

68. posted by sevenyears, Oct 10, 2008 11:34 AM

Great!Thank you!

69. posted by Abbster, Feb 12, 2009 2:38 AM

I'm an Photoshop amateur and I found your tutorial very helpful. However, I got stuck on the vignette part. I made the ellipse and feathered it - but how do you delete? There is no "delete" option. Please help! Thanks so much!

70. posted by mtp9448, Oct 14, 2008 1:36 PM

I love this.
Think I´ll try something similar myself.


71. posted by maisha85, Oct 17, 2008 10:19 AM

Love the effect! Thanx for sharing, I will try this myself now :-)

72. posted by Louisviton, Oct 19, 2008 9:59 PM

dude can u help me, i am stuck on how to put splatters into the layer mask, i don't know where to start, if you know what i am talking about can u help, cheers dude...

73. posted by ninasarah, Oct 21, 2008 1:27 AM

great!! thank you so much!!!

74. posted by judyabbot, Oct 22, 2008 10:59 AM

very good

have a nice time

75. posted by sseyfried, Oct 23, 2008 5:10 AM

i was just wondering if you could help me out a bit with step 5. i cannot seem to get it to work (the whole step).

thanks :)

76. posted by CMSeter, Oct 23, 2008 10:50 AM

First you add a new layer at the top and fill it with solid black

Hit M to get the marquee, make sure it's the elliptical one. Hold down the alt key, click and drag a circle out from the middle of the image. It should cover the image from top to bottom, left to right .The whole selection will just get rounded corners.

Feather this selection (alt+ctrl+d). In my image I used 250px. Then you just hit delete and you're done :)

77. posted by armani2k9, Oct 25, 2008 8:31 AM

hey this is a great tutorial, but i just can not get the "curves" to have lines like yours, red,blue,green, i just have one single line, can u help me with that?

78. posted by CMSeter, Oct 25, 2008 4:58 PM

Read comment #6, I answered it there :)

79. posted by armani2k9, Oct 27, 2008 7:57 AM

@70 thanks man imma try it

80. posted by sukkigoh, Oct 27, 2008 12:22 PM

aww i love thiss..thanks

81. posted by pukhnastik, Oct 27, 2008 6:58 PM

really great tutorial

82. posted by benufo, Oct 29, 2008 5:46 PM

yeah but how did you get to the first stage in greyscale, I grayscaled the image and it looks nothing like the base one you started with.

83. posted by shahla1980, Oct 30, 2008 9:01 PM

wow! really cool effect! thx!!!

84. posted by CMSeter, Oct 31, 2008 2:21 AM

That's from another tutorial I wrote. You can read that one here:

85. posted by clingwei, Nov 3, 2008 2:48 AM

Cool! thx=)

86. posted by dragosspop, Nov 7, 2008 2:12 PM

Thanks for sharing .

87. posted by vicalonrod, Nov 7, 2008 5:14 PM

Thanks for sharing, nice work man I will try it myself... I hope it woks the same way for me.

88. posted by necoti, Nov 8, 2008 12:10 PM

good work!

89. posted by Cubibubi, Nov 11, 2008 3:37 AM


90. posted by urf3, Nov 14, 2008 8:14 AM

Superb... :)
Keep it up dude.

91. posted by margarismo, Nov 15, 2008 1:55 PM


92. posted by raqlobster, Nov 16, 2008 3:32 PM

wow that's great! thanks for sharing! I'm having a hard time trying to make an ordinary picture into extra-ordinary, and this is the answer!

93. posted by nickdevil, Nov 17, 2008 11:54 AM

Thanks for sharing idea

94. posted by Jhenly, Nov 18, 2008 5:04 AM

Fantastic...LOVE IT MUCH

95. posted by jackfolv, Nov 23, 2008 2:18 AM


96. posted by r_esmaeeli, Nov 23, 2008 9:06 AM

nice job !

97. posted by fortunefad, Nov 23, 2008 1:12 PM

it is great tutorial, thanks!!

98. posted by jennyfi, Nov 24, 2008 10:49 AM

Great job !

Jenny, Infographist

99. posted by bmq, Nov 25, 2008 8:09 PM

nice job :)

100. posted by cloudy3k, Nov 26, 2008 3:44 AM

you have the same name as me! :D and great tutorial!

101. posted by shortdogg, Nov 28, 2008 5:18 PM

That's really smart

102. posted by DHusagic, Nov 30, 2008 2:07 PM

Hvala prijatelju, fantastican tutorijal.

103. posted by modish, Dec 5, 2008 4:08 AM

looks really skilled.
just wow. :)

104. posted by visc, Dec 4, 2008 9:55 AM

massive man!

105. posted by auxillary, Dec 8, 2008 2:15 PM

Sweet. Tips you can use for a change! Thanks Peter!

106. posted by zaky2007, Dec 10, 2008 8:08 PM


107. posted by ruiqi1123, Dec 14, 2008 6:09 AM


108. posted by ruiqi1123, Dec 14, 2008 6:09 AM


109. posted by Sh4rpie, Dec 17, 2008 12:14 AM


110. posted by usaneko, Dec 18, 2008 5:53 AM

awesomee.. ^^

111. posted by erkdundar, Dec 22, 2008 9:55 AM


112. posted by yasamilow, Dec 22, 2008 9:57 AM

TQ!!! Help me a lot > v

113. posted by affan2fly, Dec 24, 2008 7:57 AM


114. posted by neilmitch, Dec 24, 2008 9:39 PM

where is the cristalize filter in cs3

115. posted by Logan-5, Dec 26, 2008 9:34 PM

Fantastic tutorial, Cheers !!

116. posted by marthoula, Jan 12, 2009 7:54 PM

it's perfect thnx

117. posted by smile_pls, Jan 14, 2009 3:12 PM

Its a great tutoial bro.
Thanks a lot

118. posted by robertz65, Jan 17, 2009 3:44 AM

maravilha de tutorial, parabéns,
belo trampo

119. posted by njoss, Jan 17, 2009 7:09 AM

perfect tutorial man...thaks

120. posted by dariuszman, Jan 25, 2009 12:28 PM

Very nice tutorial, though I prefer doing such vintage/retro post-processing at less contrasted b&w and with a little bit of paper kind texture.
Pics after this p-p 71/

121. posted by geraldcp, Jan 27, 2009 4:56 AM

really nice!

122. posted by lisa_grace, Jan 31, 2009 10:55 PM

I hope you don't mind me saying this but I believe you forgot to mention the curves settings.

123. posted by eui80, Feb 7, 2009 4:12 AM

very good~!!!

124. posted by Myxmtosis, Feb 8, 2009 8:54 AM

Thanks so much!

The cross processing comes out FANTASTIC with portraits!

125. posted by ngochong, Feb 19, 2009 4:14 AM

nice pic! thks.
I'm practice right now.

126. posted by degrassi, Feb 27, 2009 3:55 PM

This is absolutely brilliant! I like!

127. posted by lisamre71, Feb 21, 2009 9:48 PM

Very cool and inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

128. posted by gogo-70, Feb 23, 2009 11:23 AM


thank you

nice tut


129. posted by YuanYe, Sep 22, 2009 6:26 PM

Thank you!

130. posted by Slantsixx, Mar 3, 2009 12:14 PM

Cool stuff man! :)

131. posted by becky365, Mar 5, 2009 8:31 PM

very awesome ... I did it to my parents house and they loved it!

132. posted by lucidrob, Mar 7, 2009 11:21 PM

cool stuff !

133. posted by azzorri, Mar 10, 2009 12:56 PM

Thank you so much

134. posted by m_a_raihan, Mar 15, 2009 10:08 AM

I like this tut :)

135. posted by mody_cmyk, Mar 17, 2009 7:01 PM


136. posted by gregory23, Mar 24, 2009 3:36 PM

very nice job

137. posted by IMADTAD, Mar 31, 2009 7:02 PM

very cool thx dude

138. posted by usf, Apr 3, 2009 3:39 PM

woow realy good job :) ;) you made it by fotoshop that good

139. posted by zvf302, Apr 6, 2009 1:38 PM

140. posted by zvf302, Apr 6, 2009 1:39 PM

This is a great tutorial, thankyou very much.. looks like something out of a video game when you'd finished with it! Sorry about the yahoo link!

141. posted by psychotek, Apr 8, 2009 3:34 PM

greate job

psychotek RO

142. posted by dyang86, Apr 16, 2009 9:46 PM

very cool. :)

143. posted by lucy_hello, Apr 29, 2009 4:17 AM

so cooool~~~~~~~~~

144. posted by hermis_v, May 6, 2009 6:18 PM

good man

keep it up......nice tutor

145. posted by carstenl, May 8, 2009 3:33 PM

Impressive, I would love to be able to do these things in PS, thanks for the lesson!


146. posted by jmilech07, Oct 6, 2009 4:57 PM

Mto show, um estilo bem diversificado! O tuto tbm está bem legal!!

147. posted by teploshop, Aug 26, 2010 4:30 PM

it looks so great!!....but i couldnt find first two steps..:(...could you maybe write where exactly to find these options in ps? be more than grateful..:)

148. posted by tskumar, Sep 22, 2009 11:19 AM

PleAse Tutor From Photshop

149. posted by Gamerworld, Jun 11, 2009 11:16 PM

Very nice and easy way to accomplish the retro look. I will definitely need to try this one out :D

150. posted by dassa66, Jun 20, 2009 10:05 AM

Thank you. Nice job.

Sanders from Hungary

151. posted by sohbet, Jun 20, 2009 2:51 PM

woow realy good job :) ;) you made it by fotoshop that good sohbet

152. posted by sohbet, Jun 20, 2009 2:52 PM

very cool. :)

153. posted by MuhammadAh, Sep 3, 2009 12:54 AM

I've applied here 35/

154. posted by maxxmaia, Dec 2, 2010 6:42 AM

hello, good morning.
I wonder how best to exchange photos with someone

155. posted by helyoslast, Jul 6, 2009 9:25 AM

nice work :)

156. posted by wormspawn, Jul 10, 2009 10:27 PM


Real cool effect with just that few steps. Big thanks!

[ ]

157. posted by aden, Jul 14, 2009 6:24 AM

wow !! I like this...

158. posted by stokthings, Jul 15, 2009 8:45 AM

nice ... all try it

159. posted by rrmacman, Jul 15, 2009 10:51 PM

looks awesome. good work!

160. posted by iamjoshy, Jul 17, 2009 1:28 PM

that was useful in terms of using crystalize, never thought of that. but why the output in RGB? CMYK allows there to be more balance and control of the nuances in the photo, such as midtones and greys and also CMYK enables more print options, too, for commercial use!

161. posted by CMSeter, Jul 18, 2009 2:55 AM

Because cmyk holds less colours. No need to convert to cmyk until you're finished editing the image. And also, if the image is'nt intended for print cmyk is useless since monitors show rgb.

162. posted by nezbitten, May 12, 2010 11:04 AM

Photos not working! It would be nice to see them!

163. posted by escan, Aug 18, 2010 8:52 AM

I'm gonna try it .

164. posted by escan, Aug 18, 2010 12:01 PM

It's simply great tut.
Thanks for share!!!!

165. posted by jtbball81, Mar 3, 2011 9:22 PM

All the images appear broken for me, does anyone see this issue as well?

166. posted by twente, Jul 27, 2011 2:27 AM

i dont see images either,.. too bad...

167. posted by MichelHerb, Jul 21, 2011 12:08 AM

Glad to see this information.its very useful for everyone.thanks for sharing this post.

168. posted by chrisdq82, Nov 2, 2012 4:51 PM

yea there are no pictures, all the jpegs are broken!

169. posted by Gn0m, Oct 4, 2012 3:14 AM

???????? ??????????!

170. posted by disenoweb9, Feb 22, 2013 8:01 AM

thank you for sharing! great job!

171. posted by mikenco, Jun 10, 2013 7:59 AM


172. posted by renderiska, Jun 21, 2013 5:30 AM

I use and love it.

173. posted by inizjall, Nov 6, 2013 3:08 AM

Great work

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