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Explaining channels

From: Bert Monroy: The Making of Times Square, The Tools

Video: Explaining channels

Channels are a very important part of Photoshop. It is a way of going in there and being very selective of how something is going to be applied, that how being anything like filters or colorizations--whatever it is you want to do, you apply it in a very specific way. Let's first look at what the channels really are. I have here one of my older images, and I'm going to use this to explain the alpha channel itself. When you select something, say we select something like this, you know that anything you do is going to happen only inside that area.

Explaining channels

Channels are a very important part of Photoshop. It is a way of going in there and being very selective of how something is going to be applied, that how being anything like filters or colorizations--whatever it is you want to do, you apply it in a very specific way. Let's first look at what the channels really are. I have here one of my older images, and I'm going to use this to explain the alpha channel itself. When you select something, say we select something like this, you know that anything you do is going to happen only inside that area.

So if I go in there and start painting, let's just say we're going to go and paint with the paintbrush and make it nice and big so we can really see what we're going to be doing here, and when we start to paint, it only happens inside that area right there, right? Nothing else gets affected. Well, that selection is volatile. When you deselect it, it's gone. But if you save that selection that selection, that selection becomes a channel, an alpha channel to be exact. Now, let's look at that alpha channel. You notice that the area that's selected is white and everything else is black.

This is a way of going in there and selecting. Now an alpha channel is an 8-bit channel so it does have 256 levels in there, the black to white with 254 levels of gray in between. The level of gray will determine the level of the exposure of that image to an effect. Let's just say that we take that same selection right there and we apply a feather to it. We'll go in there and we'll just say give it a feather, a nice big feather of about say 35. That's a big feather. Now it doesn't look like anything happened, but the selection became rounded.

Now again the selection is doing nothing to the image. It is simply segregating part of this image to some kind of an effect. If I saved this selection now, you'll notice it created a second channel, and this one has the graze of that feather. I'm going to deselect and just create a brand-new alpha channel from scratch, which automatically is black because nothing was selected. In this channel, I'm going to throw a gradient from black to white. Now this area here is protecting my artwork.

This area here is exposing it completely. The area in between is exposed based on that level of gray. So when I go back to my artwork and I load that channel, I could load by Command+Clicking here or just coming up here and saying Load Selection and choosing that particular channel, which in this case is number 3. Click OK and you see the marching ants from the 50% gray over to the white. The entire image is in fact selected. I'm going to just hide those marching ants so you can see the effect that it's going to have.

So now I'm going to return my colors to black and white so the canvas is white, and I'm just going to hit the Delete key. Notice that the right side has been deleted 100%, the left side has not, and it's gradually deleted through the grays. Let me undo that. Well, this time we'll go in there and apply some kind of a colorization, like I'll do just that. I'll go into Hue/ Saturation and say Colorize, and we'll colorize it into the blues and increase the Saturation.

You'll notice that the right side is being affected 100%, the left side not at all, and then it's gradually been affected through the area of the grays in the Alpha channel. I'll apply a filter. We'll go in there and just choose a filter like Find Edges. And again you see that the right side has been affected 100%, the left side has been left alone, and it's a gradual filtering through his center where the grays are. In essence the alpha channel is basically a selected mask through which you apply effects to that image.

Now that differs from the layer mask in that it is not exposing the image to be seen; it is exposing the image to be affected, using the same concept of going from white where the exposure is to black where it's protected.

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This video is part of

Image for Bert Monroy: The Making of Times Square, The Tools
Bert Monroy: The Making of Times Square, The Tools

61 video lessons · 8923 viewers

Bert Monroy
Author

 
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  1. 6m 34s
    1. Welcome to the tools used to create "Times Square"
      57s
    2. What is "Times Square?"
      5m 37s
  2. 1h 32m
    1. Using a Cintiq to control the brushes in Photoshop
      3m 33s
    2. Making the chain brush
      8m 49s
    3. Making the single loop chain
      6m 55s
    4. Creating a brush to make furry text
      8m 13s
    5. Creating the look of stitching on cloth
      5m 46s
    6. Creating a rough brushstroke look for the Tarzan sign
      3m 3s
    7. Creating a crochet look brush
      5m 32s
    8. Creating dirt and grime
      6m 16s
    9. Using brushes to create trees in Central Park
      6m 41s
    10. Using a brush to create the look of embroidery
      3m 3s
    11. Creating the stars on the wall of the Toys"R"Us image
      6m 24s
    12. Creating a fabric design
      3m 43s
    13. Creating the look of brick
      4m 27s
    14. Weathering bricks
      8m 23s
    15. Creating light bulbs
      6m 14s
    16. Creating the effect of a fading brushstroke
      5m 36s
  3. 15m 42s
    1. Creating a paper towel
      8m 5s
    2. Creating denim
      3m 25s
    3. Creating asphalt
      4m 12s
  4. 21m 3s
    1. Layer groups
      7m 59s
    2. Making the lights in the Toys"R"Us image
      3m 12s
    3. Understanding the layers in lights
      5m 20s
    4. Creating blinds with a 3D postcard applied to layers
      4m 32s
  5. 32m 55s
    1. Creating a bottle
      8m 50s
    2. Creating an iPhone case
      3m 35s
    3. Creating the iPhone icons
      3m 34s
    4. Creating a ladder
      6m 8s
    5. Creating the effect used on the Bubba Gump sign
      5m 7s
    6. Creating realistic glasses
      5m 41s
  6. 1h 56m
    1. Creating a fabric texture
      9m 46s
    2. Creating Julianne's pants
      9m 28s
    3. Creating a checkerboard pattern on a bottle cap
      6m 16s
    4. Creating a wood texture
      8m 26s
    5. Creating concrete and marble
      3m 14s
    6. Creating a brick pattern
      7m 12s
    7. Creating ribbed metal
      5m 40s
    8. Creating ribbing on T-shirts
      11m 18s
    9. Creating a lime
      8m 29s
    10. Creating leather
      2m 33s
    11. Creating rough animal skin
      4m 0s
    12. Creating a grill on a car
      6m 4s
    13. Creating a car light
      6m 2s
    14. Creating the windshield
      10m 39s
    15. Creating a metal screen
      4m 14s
    16. Creating a quilted metal effect
      3m 18s
    17. Creating wafer quilting
      4m 41s
    18. Creating a pattern on the wall
      5m 16s
  7. 6m 57s
    1. Making the clipping group used on the manga billboard
      6m 57s
  8. 10m 36s
    1. Applying a layer mask to create a reflection
      3m 53s
    2. Linking masks
      1m 35s
    3. Applying layer masks and layer styles to create a chain link in a necklace
      5m 8s
  9. 52m 35s
    1. Explaining channels
      4m 0s
    2. Creating a license plate with channels
      6m 47s
    3. Creating shadows on the cables
      5m 50s
    4. Explaining channel calculations
      3m 46s
    5. Understanding calculations in channels
      4m 32s
    6. Creating a manhole cover with channels
      15m 31s
    7. Creating wiring on lights with channels and calculations
      12m 9s
  10. 29s
    1. Parting words
      29s

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