Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Using an alpha channel to create a 3D object

From: Pixel Playground with Bert Monroy

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

Today we're going to look at an often

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Pixel Playground with Bert Monroy
Pixel Playground with Bert Monroy

74 video lessons · 31504 viewers

Bert Monroy

Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 9m 4s
    1. Creating a Thanksgiving card NEW
      9m 4s
  2. 10h 58m
    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
    5. Creating a custom brush
      7m 28s
    6. Using displacement maps to create shadows
      7m 27s
    7. Enhancing a landscape by adding a lake
      6m 37s
    8. Creating a dog tag
      7m 52s
    9. Recreating magazine clippings
      7m 31s
    10. Creating realistic scales for a dragon tattoo
      6m 27s
    11. Creating spikes for a dragon tattoo
      10m 35s
    12. Creating the belly for a dragon tattoo
      10m 55s
    13. Creating a flower tattoo
      7m 9s
    14. Using a Fibonacci spiral to create a tattoo
      4m 19s
    15. Body shaping with Puppet Warp
      4m 1s
    16. Type effects in Photoshop: Pillow
      6m 46s
    17. Type effects in Photoshop: Clouds
      6m 2s
    18. Animating a 3D starfield
      7m 6s
    19. Creating an antique pub sign using Photoshop
      13m 1s
    20. Creating a custom brush to draw hair
      7m 57s
    21. Charms and medallions in Photoshop: First steps
      12m 5s
    22. Charms and medallions in Photoshop: Adding details
      10m 49s
    23. Charms and medallions in Photoshop: Adding a third dimension
      10m 10s
    24. Oakland Theater: Creating stone walls
      14m 11s
    25. Oakland Theater: Creating neon
      12m 4s
    26. Oakland Theater: Creating lightbulbs
      15m 33s
    27. Changing photo contents with Auto-Align Layers
      6m 36s
    28. Creating a metal grill
      9m 35s
    29. Red truck: Creating a headlight
      7m 17s
    30. Red truck: Creating chrome headlight trim
      7m 37s
    31. Red truck: Creating realistic metal perforations
      7m 5s
    32. Red truck: Creating wear on metal
      6m 18s
    33. Magazine cover: Using perspective to draw a room
      7m 52s
    34. Magazine cover: Creating a lamp
      13m 57s
    35. Magazine cover: Creating a wood floor
      13m 29s
    36. Damen Station: Adding multiple train cars
      5m 26s
    37. Damen Station: Creating bolts
      5m 56s
    38. Damen Station: Creating realistic rust
      6m 56s
    39. Oyster Bar: Creating puddles
      6m 15s
    40. Oyster Bar: Creating asphalt and concrete textures
      5m 3s
    41. Oyster Bar: Creating a manhole cover
      10m 53s
    42. Oyster Bar: Creating a canvas texture
      7m 53s
    43. Creating realistic reflections and shadows
      11m 0s
    44. Creating water droplets on a surface
      7m 42s
    45. Wrapping a pattern around a 3D wine goblet
      7m 47s
    46. Creating net fabric for a veil
      15m 39s
    47. Animating a spotlight against a brick wall
      7m 1s
    48. Damen Station: Using Blend in Illustrator to create intricate details
      4m 34s
    49. Theater curtain: Making a braid and tassels
      9m 53s
    50. Theater curtain: Creating the curtain
      11m 40s
    51. Theater curtain: Animating a rising curtain
      7m 23s
    52. Creating a chalkboard
      12m 48s
    53. Creating a manila envelope
      12m 50s
    54. Turning a regular donut into a jelly donut
      9m 41s
    55. Making a book: Perspective
      9m 53s
    56. Making a book: Adding pages
      9m 27s
    57. Using paths and layer styles to create logo text
      9m 36s
    58. Increasing precipitation: How to make a rainy-day photo look rainier
      9m 34s
    59. Retouching techniques: Improving a picnic scene
      9m 28s
    60. Retouching techniques: Moving an object in a scene
      9m 29s
    61. Retouching techniques: Improving a real estate photo
      8m 53s
    62. Adding a billboard to a photo
      7m 52s
    63. Making a desk nameplate
      12m 6s
    64. Illustrating a campfire from scratch
      9m 35s
    65. Creating realistic stains on bathroom tile
      9m 9s
    66. Creating a distressed windowsill from scratch
      15m 42s
    67. Creating a galaxy with Photoshop: Building the star field
      9m 23s
    68. Creating a galaxy with Photoshop: Adding color and effects
      10m 19s
    69. Creating a campfire scene: Adding the campfire
      12m 34s
    70. Creating a campfire scene: Adding trees and lighting
      8m 3s
    71. Creating a superhero type treatment
      7m 6s
    72. Three Dimensional type with extruded neon: Making the letter forms
      12m 29s
    73. 3D type with extruded neon: Adding the neon
      11m 48s

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed Pixel Playground with Bert Monroy.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.