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Cross Process Your Photos in Pixelmator

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What is Cross Processing?

Film negatives are developed by a chemical process specific to the type of film that is being used. When you develop film in a separate chemical process than what was meant for it, you get totally different results. This experimenting was started in the 60's and 70's and gained popularity in 80's and 90's fashion photography. Today we have seen a resurgence of this fun style thru photo apps like Instagram and others. Here is a nice cross processing diagram.

Since Cross Processing can produce many differing looks there isn't one style that defines it. Some characteristics can be, higher contrast and saturation, with colors and highlights blown out. Todays tutorial will lean towards the yellowing effect that developing color negatives in slide negative chemicals can produce. Remember these adjustments to follow will vary slightly depending on the original photo you start with. Don't worry about getting things perfect, this is all about having fun and experimenting!

Getting Started

Choose the photo you want to work with. Since Pixelmator does not currently support non-destructive adjustment layers, we need to duplicate the photo layer one time. This will allow us to preserve the original and we can go back and start again if we want different results.

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Step 1 - Red Curve Adjustment

Go to Image > Curves to open the Curves Panel. If you haven't yet, check out last weeks tutorial on the Curves Tool. We are going to make adjustments to the histogram curves in all three color channels and some overall contrast adjustments in the RGB channel. Remember don't click "ok" till we make all our adjustments thru step 4.

Let's start with the Red Curve adjustment. Rollover the image below to see the effect produced. The top of the s-curve will increase the red tint and saturation in the highlights of our photo. The bottom of our curve will re-adjust the color and contrast to our darker areas.

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Image before and after (Rollover).

Step 2 - Blue Curve Adjustment

Now onto the Blue Curve. Again rollover the image below to see the changes we make by adjusting this curve. When we adjust the top of the curve we are removing some of the blue in our lighter areas, producing more of a yellowing effect. By adjusting the bottom of this curve we are lightening the darkest areas and giving them a slight blue tint.

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Image before and after (Rollover).

Step 3 - Green Curve Adjustment

With our green curve we don't need much adjustment here. We just want to brighten and remove some of the red in our photos lightest areas and allow more red and blue to show in our mid to dark areas.

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Step 4 - RGB Curve Adjustment

In this last Curve Adjustment we are just increasing the contrast slightly by adjusting the bottom of the RGB histogram very little. If your photo already has a lot of contrast, really dark and light areas, you probably don't need to make this adjustment. When you like what you see click ok to lock the changes in!

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Step 5 - Tinting your Photo

We can only do so much with adjusting the curves. On a new layer above the photo layer, fill with a yellow color. ( #FFC961 ) Then change the blending mode to Overlay. This will add more brightness, richness and more yellowing overall. Turn down the opacity of this layer until you get the amount of tint you want.

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Step 6 - Vignette and Frame

To complete this retro look you can add a vignette on a new layer. Then on a new layer above this we will create a black border. To do this Command click on the thumbnail of the Yellow fill layer to get a nice selection around the entire photo. Now on your Border layer hit SHIFT > CMD > O to create a black inside stroke, the thickness is up to you.

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To make our photo look more authentic, use the polygonal lasso tool to select and delete a little notch out of all four corners of the border.

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Conclusion

For a final touch add some yellow-orange text and numbers along the border as shown. We're done! Rollover the photo below to see where we started and how it turned out, what a difference! Remember different photos will need different adjustments but hopefully we have helped you conquer any intimidation you have in using the curves tool to bring dull photos to life again using the Cross Process effect in Pixelmator.

If you create neat photos using Pixelmator, share them in our Pixelmator Design Flickr group. We have over 100 members and counting, come join us!

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Image before and after (Rollover).

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