Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Well, we are slowly but surely working our way up the ladder of layers and I'm going to introduce you to yet another rung on this ladder. This one is Channels. A channel is something that sometimes confuses users and my guess is that this is because Channels essentially represents something else. In this case, what it represents are selections. This creates a bit of a conceptual disconnect for a lot of users, and in this particular video, I'm going to try to clear this mystery up for you a bit. So Channels which are also sometimes referred to as Alpha Channels are really the opposite side of a coin in which selections represent the opposite side.
And Channels and selections are really two representations of the same underlying data. It's just how they are presented. When you make a selection, a channel is implicitly made. It's just not automatically added to the Channels palette. So let's take a look at the Channels palette. I'll pop it open here. It, basically, looks very much like layers. There are some conceptual differences that you really don't worry so much about the layer order of Channels. It's more of a depository for saved Channels, but the thing we want to start with here is, I'm going to grab the Polygonal Selection tool and I'm just going to make some kind of selection.
It doesn't have to be anything special here, just enough to get the idea across. So I have created a selection. Now there are times when you are going to want to save a selection. It could be some very complex selection outline or a representation of a visual element that you want to isolate for various reasons. So it would be nice to be able to save a selection, and here is the thing that's important to understand. Channels and selections are both created by using 256 shades of density.
So imagine from black to white, you have got a grayscale. That is what is the 256 shades of density that is used to store this data. You can think of them in a way as masked with a varying levels of transparency in them and the phrase I want you to remember here is this one. You might even want to get a tattoo with this put on you. White reveals, black conceals. If you can remember that phrase, white reveals, black conceals, it can really keep you from getting confused about what's going on with Channels when they are represented visually as opposed to a selection.
So white reveals, black conceals. So let's go and take this selection. And if we go up to the Select menu, you will see down here, I can save my selections. So I'm going to say Save and we'll just call this my_selection and we'll go ahead and say OK. And look what just happened. An alpha channel is created. So you may have saved selections before and never realized where they are going off to, to being saved. They are being saved as a channel and the fact that they can both be represented as an Alpha channel or a selection makes it very easy then to be able to retrieve a selection later on.
Let's say it's the next day, and I have come back and I have saved this file, which is an important concept here. Channels are saved with your image, if you save them in either of the RIFF or the Photoshop format. In fact, I'll go so far as to tell you that Channels are identical to Channels in Photoshop, and if you save Channels in the Photoshop format in Painter, they transfer right across to Photoshop and vice versa. So that information goes back and forth between the two applications. But let's say now I want to get this selection back.
So I go back to Select and I say Load Selection, and where it's getting this from is in the Channels palette. So I say OK and there is my channel or in this case, my selection from the day before. So Channels and selections are the same thing, they are just represented in two different ways, and you can flow back and forth pretty seamlessly from a selection to a Channels and vice versa. Now what I'm going to do is we are going to move on here in a moment to talk about layer masks, which is really kind of the top rung of the layer ladder, and it's one area that really confuses people.
But I want you to keep in mind I talked about the fact that Channels have 256 shades of density. You are going to see how that can be really important when we investigate layer masks.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
120 Video lessons · 58604 Viewers
119 Video lessons · 67735 Viewers
84 Video lessons · 16992 Viewers
125 Video lessons · 29881 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
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.