Digital Mix Processing in Photoshop

Mix processing is really a technique which was initially produced for processing film images. By processing the show within the wrong kind of chemicals (e.g. processing film in slide chemicals), you can produce a highly stylised image with drastically different colours and contrast.

However, mix processing film is really a largely hit-and-miss affair that is very difficult to judge, and needs lots of experimentation to obtain the preferred effect.

Nowadays we are able to simulate mix processing digitally in programs for example Illustrator, or other with a Curves function. Digital mix processing has the additional advantage that you can tweak the outcomes until we obtain the result we desire.

Before and after digital cross processing in Photoshop

This is actually the photo i will be mix processing using Illustrator. Image by M Pincus.

How you can Digitally Mix Process a picture in Photoshop

  1. Load your image.
  2. Give a “Curves” adjustment layer by visiting Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves or clicking the “Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer” icon within the “Layers” panel.
  3. Red. Choose the “Red” funnel, and then click the bend to include two new handles. Drag the left-hands handle lower and also the right-hands one as much as create an S-formed curve as proven.
Photoshop Curves mixer showing red channel

Red curves funnel.

  1. Green. Again, add two new handles, however this time leave the left-hands one roughly where it’s, and drag the best-hands one upwards to improve the vegetables within the highlights
Photoshop Curves mixer showing green channel

Green curves channel.

  1. Blue. This time around drag the left-hands handle up and also the right-hands one lower to produce an inverted S-shape.
Photoshop Curves mixer showing blue channel

Blue curves channel.

  1. RGB. Give the “RGB” curve a very slight S-shape to increase contrast. Don’t be afraid of losing detail in the highlights and shadows; it all adds to the effect (although don’t overdo it).
Photoshop Curves mixer showing RGB channel

RGB curves channel.

  1. Done! Click OK and save your image.
Final image after digital cross processing

The final image. The distorted colours and increased contrast produce a highly stylised effect.

Creating a Cross Processing Action

If you intend to use roughly the same RGB curves to cross process several images, you can save yourself some time by saving the entire process as a Photoshop action. What this basically means is that rather than having to manually adjust the curves each time, you just click a button and it’s all applied automatically.

To create an action, start with your basic image. Go to Window > Actions (Alt+F9) to bring up the Actions panel. Click Create New Action, give your action a name (e.g. Cross Process), and click Record. Any adjustments you make from now on will be recorded as part of the action.

Carry out your curves adjustments as before, and when you’re done click the Stop button in the Actions panel. Now whenever you want to apply your Cross Process Action, just bring up the Actions panel, select the Cross Process Action, and click Play.

Alternatively, download my Cross Process Action to use yourself. To install, open the Actions panel, click the arrow and select Load Actions, then browse to the action file.