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The elusive alpha channel remains one of the most misunderstood yet powerful tools in Photoshop. Alpha channels are collections of luminance data that control the transparency of an image, and they inform just about every aspect of Photoshop. As he builds transitional blended layers, fashions a depth map, makes edge adjustments, and takes on extreme channel mixing, Omni Award-winning expert Deke McClelland teaches Photoshop users that where there's a will, there's a way. Photoshop CS3 Channels and Masks: Advanced Techniques covers mapping texture on an image, turning flesh into stone, using vector masks, working with all different channels, creating a rustic edge effect, and much more. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts for Channels and Masks from the Exercise Files tab."
In this exercise, we are going to take a look at one of the more satisfying things that you can do inside of Photoshop and that's mix and match people inside of a group photo. So here is the idea. You are shooting a group shot and of course you didn't just shoot one picture of these people or two pictures of these people, that would be utter and complete madness. You shot like 20 or 30 or better yet a 100 or 200 if you are really serious about things and then you want to combine the best version of each one of the people inside that photograph so that you create the perfect group shot. So that's what we are going to be doing here.
Now there is two precautions you want to take if you are take advantage of this technique that I am about to unfold for you here. Firstly, when you are shooting your images, make sure that you are not moving, you don't have the tripod to shot, that's not necessary and as you can see here I am shooting on a beach. So using a tripod would be a little bit tricky. I just went ahead and did hand held shots and that's perfectly fine, but don't be moving around especially don't shift from right to left because you will shift your perspective and that will goof things up. So stay more or less stationary and then secondly, try to ensure that there is some room between the people in the shot. So the fact for example here, we have got a handful of people that work here at lynda.com. We have got Jeff over on the left and then we have got Melody in front, Pavo way there in the background and then we have got Megan over here on the right and Pavo and Megan have a nice amount of room around them whereas Melody's hair is kind of interfering with Jeff's face.
Now that could prove to be a little tricky when we combine the photographs. If you have room between the people, that's the best thing. All right, so here is what I want you to do if you are going to work along with me. I want you to go to the 11 layer masks folder which is found of course inside the Exercise Files folder. There in, you will find a sub-folder called Jumpers, I want you to enter that folder, I happen to be working inside the Bridge by the way so that we can see these shots and the idea I am going to switch from one image to another here is that we have got multiple versions of these folks jumping in the air.
So I have cut them actually jumping, I have got my producer Max who is sitting there actually screaming at them one, two, three jump, over and over again at this beach in Ventura, California and I wanted to be able to capture them at the height of their jumps with sort of hair flying and these languid expression on their faces because after all they are all part of an ultra hip, ultra cool rock band essentially or at least a pop band and I am calling this group "Tumult! At the Aviary." Anyway, we are going to combine them together and we are going to get this just excellent awesome group shot of each one of them jumping their best jump.
All right, so I want you to grab the first four jumpers, that is to say, jumpers one through four. So go ahead and click on one and Shift+Click on four in order to select this group right here and then I want you to go ahead and open them up inside of Photoshop. I am going to go ahead and do that right now. Notice that I have gone ahead and converted all of these images to black and white shots and also they are quite grainy and that's on purpose. I went ahead and raised the ISO on my camera to 800. We have got a lot of grain going on which I thought sort of created an evocative effect anyway. Now let's go ahead and combine these photographs into a single composition and the easiest way to do that is to go up to the File menu, choose the Scripts command and then choose this command right there, Load Files into Stacks.
Now if you can't find this command for whatever reason, then you are going to have to combine the images manually; just do a drag-and-drop. Go ahead and drag one image and Shift+Drop it into the other image and so on until you have all four images inside of a single composition. But if you got access to this command, go ahead and choose it and then what I want you to do that will bring up this dialog box right here, go ahead and click on Add Open Files in order to add all of the open files, hopefully you only have these four files open and then click OK and then you let the script rip. It's going to sort of sit here and bump around on screen and do its thing and you should end up with an image probably called untitled1 something along these lines and you will see that you have four layers altogether; jumpers 1, 2, 3 and 4, all stacked on top of each other.
Now we are ready to go ahead and combine these images together and the first step is to align the images so that they kind of get along with each other, you will notice watch this, I will go ahead and turn off all, but the back layer. Now I will turn on the layer in front of it. Notice how the whole scene shifts right there, the horizon for example, just moved and then I will turn on the next layer up, then shift it again and then the layer after that being shifted up. Did you see that and that's because these are all hand held shots. So of course things are bound to shift around, we need to align the images together and we are going to preform that alignment automatically here inside of Photoshop CS3 in the very next exercise.
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