Cross Process Effect in Lightroom plus Free Preset

How to create a Cross Process effect in Adobe Lightroom

Back in the day, way before digital wizardry had been invented, but after dinosaurs ruled the Earth, photographers hid themselves away in darkened rooms and played with chemicals. We played with spools of film in complete darkness, fumbled them into sealed containers, poured in chemicals, agitated them, and washed them.

After a short time we felt so positive about having a negative, we popped them under a projector and transferred our image onto photographic paper. A few more chemicals later and our masterpiece was born.

The chemicals we used were specific to certain types of film – right tool for the job and all that.

At some point in history, someone (our hero) was inspired to use the wrong chemicals for the type of film they were using and out popped a pretty interesting image. I like to think that the individual was experimenting, but it’s more likely that they had run out of the right chemicals and couldn’t be arsed to go and buy the right stuff, so used what they had to hand.

Anyway, our hero inadvertently or deliberately invented cross processing.

Cross Processing can create some pretty nifty effects in an image, creating unpredictable shifts in color and contrast. here’s how to recreate the effect digitally…

If you prefer to read about it rather than watch, here we go…

Starting Image

Courtesy Jernej Graj


First we go to the Basic settings and make the following adjustments:

I am assuming you are happy with the Exposure settings so leave this alone. If I am wrong, feel free to have a little fiddle with the exposure slider!

Tweak the HIGHLIGHTS up a tad, somewhere between +5 and +10.

Drop the SHADOWS to something like -20 or so, and the WHITES down a touch, maybe -10.

Lift the BLACKS up to around +20.

Add some CLARITY, way up to around +45.

Lift VIBRANCE a touch, between -10 and -20

And finally drop the VIBRANCE down to around -10.

Next we go to the Tone Curve.


This is an easy adjustment. Make sure you are showing the RGB Channel.

Hove the mouse over the lower left point until the curser changes to the adjustment, and then lift the bottom of the line up a touch to fade the image a little.


First of all we leave the HUE settings all as-is (they should be zero on their respective sliders).

SATURATION and LUMINANCE should be set as follows:

RED Hue -36 / Sat +26. ORANGE -29 / +26

YELLOW-25 / +22. GREEN -35 / +20

AQUA -34 / +22. BLUE -40 / +21

PURPLE -32 / +17. MAGENTA -26 / +21


To be honest, in the spirit of our Cross Processing hero, Split Toning is something that you can play with to achieve a look you like.

For this image, and for the free preset (see below), these are the settings I used:




I like to add a final touch of a little grain to my cross process effect.




You can grab this Free Preset here – but why not subscribe to my occasional newsletter to receive them direct in your inbox

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

More News

Scroll to Top