Pixel Playground with Bert Monroy
Illustration by John Hersey

Using an alpha channel to create a 3D object


Pixel Playground with Bert Monroy

with Bert Monroy

Video: Using an alpha channel to create a 3D object

Today we're going to look at an often
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  1. 9m 33s
    1. Easter basket: Creating the basket NEW
      9m 33s
  2. 25m 4s
    1. St. Patrick's Day card: Creating a shamrock and a pot of gold
      9m 13s
    2. St. Patrick's Day card: Adding the details
      8m 13s
    3. Creating a 3D Easter egg
      7m 38s
  3. 36m 43s
    1. Making a piece of candy: Adding the jelly filling
      10m 51s
    2. Creating a Valentine's Day card
      10m 10s
    3. Turning a daytime scene into night
      8m 24s
    4. Using Photoshop's Displace filter to create a waving flag
      7m 18s
  4. 45m 43s
    1. Using the Photoshop Flame Generator
      6m 53s
    2. Creating a mountain scene
      8m 24s
    3. Creating reflections in water
      6m 8s
    4. Making a diamond-encrusted type
      12m 11s
    5. Making a piece of candy: Creating the chocolate base
      12m 7s
  5. 27m 47s
    1. Mapping video onto a 3D object in Photoshop
      5m 50s
    2. Creating a wintery scene
      7m 36s
    3. Making a New Year's 2015 card
      14m 21s
  6. 33m 21s
    1. Three Dimensional type with extruded neon: Making the letter forms
      12m 29s
    2. 3D type with extruded neon: Adding the neon
      11m 48s
    3. Creating a Thanksgiving card
      9m 4s
  7. 47m 25s
    1. Creating a galaxy with Photoshop: Building the star field
      9m 23s
    2. Creating a galaxy with Photoshop: Adding color and effects
      10m 19s
    3. Creating a campfire scene: Adding the campfire
      12m 34s
    4. Creating a campfire scene: Adding trees and lighting
      8m 3s
    5. Creating a superhero type treatment
      7m 6s
  8. 46m 32s
    1. Making a desk nameplate
      12m 6s
    2. Illustrating a campfire from scratch
      9m 35s
    3. Creating realistic stains on bathroom tile
      9m 9s
    4. Creating a distressed windowsill from scratch
      15m 42s
  9. 45m 16s
    1. Increasing precipitation: How to make a rainy-day photo look rainier
      9m 34s
    2. Retouching techniques: Improving a picnic scene
      9m 28s
    3. Retouching techniques: Moving an object in a scene
      9m 29s
    4. Retouching techniques: Improving a real estate photo
      8m 53s
    5. Adding a billboard to a photo
      7m 52s
  10. 28m 56s
    1. Making a book: Perspective
      9m 53s
    2. Making a book: Adding pages
      9m 27s
    3. Using paths and layer styles to create logo text
      9m 36s
  11. 42m 42s
    1. Theater curtain: Animating a rising curtain
      7m 23s
    2. Creating a chalkboard
      12m 48s
    3. Creating a manila envelope
      12m 50s
    4. Turning a regular donut into a jelly donut
      9m 41s
  12. 48m 47s
    1. Creating net fabric for a veil
      15m 39s
    2. Animating a spotlight against a brick wall
      7m 1s
    3. Damen Station: Using Blend in Illustrator to create intricate details
      4m 34s
    4. Theater curtain: Making a braid and tassels
      9m 53s
    5. Theater curtain: Creating the curtain
      11m 40s
  13. 34m 22s
    1. Oyster Bar: Creating a canvas texture
      7m 53s
    2. Creating realistic reflections and shadows
      11m 0s
    3. Creating water droplets on a surface
      7m 42s
    4. Wrapping a pattern around a 3D wine goblet
      7m 47s
  14. 29m 7s
    1. Damen Station: Creating realistic rust
      6m 56s
    2. Oyster Bar: Creating puddles
      6m 15s
    3. Oyster Bar: Creating asphalt and concrete textures
      5m 3s
    4. Oyster Bar: Creating a manhole cover
      10m 53s
  15. 38m 48s
    1. Magazine cover: Creating a lamp
      13m 57s
    2. Magazine cover: Creating a wood floor
      13m 29s
    3. Damen Station: Adding multiple train cars
      5m 26s
    4. Damen Station: Creating bolts
      5m 56s
  16. 36m 9s
    1. Red truck: Creating a headlight
      7m 17s
    2. Red truck: Creating chrome headlight trim
      7m 37s
    3. Red truck: Creating realistic metal perforations
      7m 5s
    4. Red truck: Creating wear on metal
      6m 18s
    5. Magazine cover: Using perspective to draw a room
      7m 52s
  17. 31m 44s
    1. Oakland Theater: Creating lightbulbs
      15m 33s
    2. Changing photo contents with Auto-Align Layers
      6m 36s
    3. Creating a metal grill
      9m 35s
  18. 47m 14s
    1. Charms and medallions in Photoshop: Adding details
      10m 49s
    2. Charms and medallions in Photoshop: Adding a third dimension
      10m 10s
    3. Oakland Theater: Creating stone walls
      14m 11s
    4. Oakland Theater: Creating neon
      12m 4s
  19. 40m 9s
    1. Animating a 3D starfield
      7m 6s
    2. Creating an antique pub sign using Photoshop
      13m 1s
    3. Creating a custom brush to draw hair
      7m 57s
    4. Charms and medallions in Photoshop: First steps
      12m 5s
  20. 21m 8s
    1. Using a Fibonacci spiral to create a tattoo
      4m 19s
    2. Body shaping with Puppet Warp
      4m 1s
    3. Type effects in Photoshop: Pillow
      6m 46s
    4. Type effects in Photoshop: Clouds
      6m 2s
  21. 42m 37s
    1. Recreating magazine clippings
      7m 31s
    2. Creating realistic scales for a dragon tattoo
      6m 27s
    3. Creating spikes for a dragon tattoo
      10m 35s
    4. Creating the belly for a dragon tattoo
      10m 55s
    5. Creating a flower tattoo
      7m 9s
  22. 29m 24s
    1. Creating a custom brush
      7m 28s
    2. Using displacement maps to create shadows
      7m 27s
    3. Enhancing a landscape by adding a lake
      6m 37s
    4. Creating a dog tag
      7m 52s
  23. 23m 36s
    1. Creating animated snowfall with Photoshop
      6m 39s
    2. Filling an empty glass with liquid
      2m 51s
    3. Using an alpha channel to create a 3D object
      6m 53s
    4. Creating a 3D coin
      7m 13s

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Watch the Online Video Course Pixel Playground with Bert Monroy
13h 32m Intermediate Jun 07, 2013 Updated Mar 27, 2015

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Take a 10-minute recess every week and join Bert Monroy in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, the playgrounds of digital artists. Every Friday Bert walks through a fun, self-contained project that tests your skills and challenges the imagination. These programs aren't just image editors; they are sandboxes for creativity and experimentation. Take a spin through a carousel of tools and get reinspired, each and every week.

Design Photography
Illustrator Photoshop
Bert Monroy

Using an alpha channel to create a 3D object

Today we're going to look at an often overlooked feature of Photoshop, the Alpha Channel. Now on the screen right now, we have this big red ring. It's easy to make it look three-dimensional by lighting it in a certain way. What I'm going to do is go to that layer of the ring and I'm going to double- click on it to bring up the Layer Styles. I'm getting a little bevel and emboss. The light coming from the upper right there. Let's have it coming from right above. A little closer to the top there, like that. Increase the size a bit, make it a little softer, and maybe make the highlights a little stronger, right there like that.

Click OK, and there's a nice three dimensional ring. It's picking up the light sources making it look like it's rounded and so on. But what if we introduce another light source? Well, unfortunately you can only have one set of bevel and emboss, so we can't add another one to take into account this light here. And also the fact that this light is so close to the ring means that it's going to be really strong here and not as strong on this side. So what we need to do is to actually paint these highlights in and to do that we going to use a specialized mask and that is what's called the Alpha Channel.

So look at our channels here, and we have our basic channels. We have our red, our green, and our blue, which have the information for each of those colors. The Alpha Channels are additional channels that are not part of the image, but are simply ways in which you mask certain parts of the image in order to be able to work on those areas exclusively. So now, what I'm going to do is, I'm going to turn that ring into a selection, and I'm going to go ahead and save the selection. Under Select here we have Save Selection. I'm going to call this Ring.

Click OK, and when we look at our channels, there it is. We now have a new one, and you notice it's turned off because it's not part of the image. If you want to see it, there it is. It's showing up like a quick mask in red. All right, so there it is. So, I'm going to go in there and save it again. I'm going to save a second selection. And this one we're going to call, Edge. Now, why two? Let's deselect that. And the reason for two is you see what's happening here is, it's nice and hard along the edge, and then as it goes around that curve of the object, it starts to soften.

And that's what that second one is going to be. It's going to give us that softening effect. So let's go and look at these two. We see the red, and we see the edge. They're exactly the same. So now the edge is going to be that softness that we see in here. So for the edge, we're going to go in there and blur it. We'll give it a little Gaussian blur just enough to soften it up the way the rest of the lighting is being affected, just about like that. Click OK. Now, I need to see the other one on top of it. So I'm going to click on that. Now, we're seeing everything in that red, so I want to be able to differentiate between the two.

So what I'm going to do is I'm going to double-click on this and that brings me up to the Channel Options, which have nothing to do with the performance of the channel but simply in how you see that channel when other channels are turned on. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to change the color of it to a blue. I'm going to increase the Opacity of it to about 80. Click OK and now we can see that difference right in there, see? It's kind of like a slight lilac, purplish kind of tone. And now we can see what's happening. What we're going to do now is, we have our candles right here.

So, this is going to be the main focus of the light. So, what I'm going to do is take the edge, and with my Move tool, I'm going to move it a little to the right. The ring is in register with the ring. The edge is what we'll move. So I'll click my cursor keys just to move it over to the left a little bit, just like that, and move it up a little bit. And there we see this little overlap. Let's move it over some more, and the overlap. So there we see, here's this dark edge here, which is on this side here exactly where it would be. So now what we need to do is to create a single channel that incorporates both of these.

And what I'm going to to do is I'm going to go over here under Image we have a little thing called Calculations. I'm going to bring that up. And the position of these two, is going to make a difference. You've got Source One, and Source Two which is our two channels. So if I put the, my ring up here on the edge. And you see something happen, because the blending is already set to multiply. I'll just set this up to Subtract, take one away from the other. Now you see the position, what it's done. It's created the effect like it's going to be a drop shadow.

So if I put the edge on top and the ring at the bottom, there we see that the inside of the ring is now exposed. And what happens in an Alpha Channel is the selected area is what's white. The protected area is what's black. And the level of gray is the level of selection, kind of like a softened or feathered edge on a let's say rectangular Marquee tool or so on. The same kind of an effect. It will have a softening effect of whatever it is that we're doing. Now I'm going to send that information of what, what's happening here to a New Channel.

I could also send it to just a Selection or a completely New Document if I wanted to keep my mask separate from the file itself. So, I'm going to send it over to a New Channel, click OK and there it is. There's the channel. So when I come back to my RGB, I can now load that channel. I can do it by Cmd clicking here or by coming up to Select and saying Load Selection. At which time, I see the three channels that I have, and I'm going to choose Alpha One. Click OK, and see the marching ants. So what I'm going to do, is I'm going to to hide those marching ants, so we don't see those.

Make it easier to see what we need to do, and layer on top of this. I'm going to draw my highlight from this candle. So I'm going to get my Paint brush, and make sure I have a really big brush, so I'll make it much larger. Nice big brush. And it's very soft edge, yes it is. And I'm going to pick up a color right from here like say, maybe this very light yellow, yellowish tone from right in there, like that. Or maybe pick it up from right here where it's almost white. And then, I'm going to reduce the opacity of my brush.

I can kind of do it lightly. Bring it down to about 50%, and make it even bigger. And I just get this little dare right through there, see? Right there, and we'll give it another. And one more just to make it even brighter. And, one last one right in the middle there, and there you see that, that highlight came in. And on this side we'll just kind of do it once, so it's not as strong as the other side. And there you can see that we have now created the illusion that this ring is being lit from an external light source, or an ambient light from up above, and from the candle that's right next to it, real bright right there.

And if you want that to be even brighter, well, you can switch, switch it to white, and give it a little hit right there, and there's a little whiteness right close to the candle. And we can see that we have a newly lit ring, based on specialized masks called Alpha Channels.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Pixel Playground with Bert Monroy .

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Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.
Q: Why are some of the 3D menu items grayed out when I try to follow along?
A: The 3D features in Photoshop CC require a computer with at least 512MB VRAM. If your computer doesn't meet this criterion, the 3D menu features will be greyed out.
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