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Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques
Illustration by John Hersey

Building the flame mask


From:

Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques

with Deke McClelland

Video: Building the flame mask

We have got this beautiful, beautiful composition here. We have totally dealt effectively with the fact that we had a warm subject against the warm background. We have addressed the blonde hair quite nicely, it looks absolutely great against this, completely formed background, she was nowhere near the Valley Of Fire. I shot the Valley Of Fire photograph. Andre Barrack, a guy I don't even know in a totally different country shot the foreground image here. But we still have to deal with our third challenge which is the flame. The flame remains broken, and part of the problem is that the flame is darkening the background in certain places. So it's either darkening the background or it's just kind of covering up the background, it's just making what was formerly blue, orange, which is not what a flame would do it, this doesn't all of a sudden convey completely different colors. It's not like an opaque phenomenon. It lightens the background, it is a lightning agent unlike the blonde hair which does cover things up, the flame is a lightning agent and so it should probably be set to the Screen mode. Problem is, we can't independently set the flame to the Screen mode.
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  1. 2h 13m
    1. The Odyssey Continues
      2m 39s
    2. Mapping one image onto another
      7m 12s
    3. Making a custom contrast mode
      7m 10s
    4. Luminance blending
      8m 40s
    5. Forcing the visibility of underlying layers
      4m 4s
    6. Adjusting the appearance of clipped layers
      4m 34s
    7. Selecting a Blend If channel
      6m 12s
    8. Enhancing highlights by hiding them
      5m 9s
    9. Smart Object first, layer mask second
      7m 22s
    10. The Fill Opacity Eight
      4m 30s
    11. Blending Smart Filters
      7m 24s
    12. Cleaning up edges
      7m 39s
    13. More fun with luminance blending
      6m 22s
    14. A first peek at the Calculations command
      12m 11s
    15. Masking a softly focused model
      11m 46s
    16. Moving layers and masks between images
      7m 35s
    17. Matching colors
      9m 13s
    18. Building transitional blended layers
      6m 33s
    19. Restoring normal colors
      6m 50s
  2. 2h 33m
    1. Layer masks, clipping masks, and knockouts
      1m 20s
    2. Rotating and stretching
      7m 54s
    3. A jet of motion blur
      9m 18s
    4. Keyboard tricks
      5m 4s
    5. Merging sky and landscape
      6m 3s
    6. Masking an adjustment layer
      6m 37s
    7. Creating two windows into an image
      7m 42s
    8. Whitening teeth and adding other highlights
      3m 46s
    9. Mapping a texture onto an image
      4m 1s
    10. Isolating a texture with a layer mask
      6m 44s
    11. Welcome to the glass composition
      3m 18s
    12. Balancing shadows and highlights
      5m 51s
    13. Masking the glass
      7m 24s
    14. Masking the text
      9m 23s
    15. Adding and blending the goldfish
      8m 45s
    16. Assembling the perfect group photo
      5m 12s
    17. Aligning photographs automatically
      5m 26s
    18. Masking in each person's best shot
      5m 18s
    19. Masking densely packed people
      6m 17s
    20. Crafting the perfect final poster
      5m 16s
    21. From the improbable to the impossible
      1m 56s
    22. The fantastical "world of clones" effect
      10m 0s
    23. Upsampling and blurring a background
      8m 39s
    24. Adding a knockout mask
      8m 3s
    25. Choking edges with Gaussian Blur and Levels
      3m 46s
  3. 2h 27m
    1. The corrective power of masking
      1m 6s
    2. The amazing luminance mask
      7m 22s
    3. Brightening and neutralizing the eyes
      8m 22s
    4. Adjusting a nondestructive composition
      5m 52s
    5. Creating a corrective mask
      6m 4s
    6. Averaging away irregular flesh tones
      3m 52s
    7. Modifying specific colors
      7m 46s
    8. Initiating the color mask
      6m 0s
    9. Refining the color mask
      6m 40s
    10. Adjusting the edges around fabric
      7m 56s
    11. Perfecting hair
      9m 35s
    12. Sharpening with a High Pass layer
      10m 12s
    13. The also-amazing density mask
      4m 48s
    14. Adjusting the knockout depth
      8m 48s
    15. Fashioning a depth map
      6m 12s
    16. Invoking a depth mask from Lens Blur
      6m 38s
    17. The perfect depth-of-field effect
      6m 25s
    18. Sharpening an archival photograph
      7m 7s
    19. Creating an edge mask
      8m 29s
    20. Making a High Pass sandwich
      7m 46s
    21. Applying the edge mask
      6m 2s
    22. Customizing your sharpening effect
      4m 6s
  4. 2h 3m
    1. Channel Mixer, I am your father!
      1m 39s
    2. Three ways to gray
      7m 49s
    3. Meet the Channel Mixer
      8m 26s
    4. Mixing a custom black-and-white image
      7m 10s
    5. Creating a professional-level sepia tone
      5m 36s
    6. Employing the Black & White command
      8m 1s
    7. Extreme channel mixing
      4m 50s
    8. The infrared photography effect
      6m 43s
    9. Taking shadows to the brink of black
      3m 56s
    10. Elevating highlights, leeching saturation
      5m 58s
    11. Deepening a black-and-white sky
      5m 49s
    12. Infusing luminance levels with color
      5m 44s
    13. Creating an opposing colorization scheme
      4m 58s
    14. Bolstering contrast with the Green channel
      5m 37s
    15. A tiny improvement to a terrific technique
      7m 39s
    16. The simple (but wrong) approach to red-eye correction
      6m 39s
    17. Channel-mixing red pupils
      9m 18s
    18. The expert approach to red-eye correction
      5m 20s
    19. Fixing problem coronas (pupil edges)
      8m 9s
    20. Making pupils match
      4m 8s
  5. 2h 33m
    1. Chops are dead; long live maskops
      1m 37s
    2. The Calculations command
      8m 16s
    3. Blue Screen blending
      7m 40s
    4. Refining the Blue Screen mask
      5m 53s
    5. Brushing away color fringing
      7m 24s
    6. Locking the transparency of a layer
      6m 22s
    7. Nondestructive layer painting
      7m 36s
    8. How the Add blend mode works
      8m 40s
    9. How the Subtract blend mode works
      6m 43s
    10. Focus, noise, and other masking challenges
      5m 33s
    11. The Add mode in action
      7m 51s
    12. The Subtract mode in action
      8m 25s
    13. Comparing two channels with Difference
      5m 24s
    14. Enhancing the contrast with Curves
      9m 11s
    15. Gathering details with Apply Image
      9m 43s
    16. Dodge highlights, burn shadows
      6m 6s
    17. Dodge and Burn in action
      8m 24s
    18. Painting in the scalp
      10m 1s
    19. Painting away the face and chin
      4m 53s
    20. Compositing complementary images
      4m 13s
    21. Multiply, Minimum, Blur, and Apply Image
      6m 40s
    22. Crafting the final composition
      7m 7s
  6. 1h 57m
    1. Mark of the Pen tool
      1m 35s
    2. The big paths project overview
      6m 51s
    3. How to make a path
      8m 25s
    4. Corner points and freeform polygons
      8m 6s
    5. Editing paths with the arrow tools
      5m 2s
    6. Adding and deleting endpoints
      5m 15s
    7. Adding and deleting interior points
      6m 6s
    8. Converting a path to a selection
      3m 35s
    9. Converting a path to a mask
      6m 38s
    10. Smooth points and control handles
      8m 57s
    11. Making cusp points
      6m 0s
    12. Combining paths in a vector mask
      7m 55s
    13. Turning a path into a shape layer
      8m 57s
    14. Combining paths to make a layer mask
      7m 52s
    15. Mixing layer and vector masks
      10m 14s
    16. Editing character outlines as paths
      8m 39s
    17. Using the Convert Point tool
      7m 8s
  7. 3h 17m
    1. Where there's a will, there's a way
      1m 18s
    2. Masking natural cast shadows
      4m 10s
    3. Applying the cast show
      4m 2s
    4. Creating a difference mask
      3m 7s
    5. Applying an arbitrary map
      3m 50s
    6. Making the flesh mask
      7m 17s
    7. Roughing in an object mask
      6m 49s
    8. Drawing missing details with the Lasso tool
      4m 7s
    9. Combining flesh and object masks
      3m 53s
    10. Amplifying the cast shadow
      4m 10s
    11. Selectively choking edges
      3m 58s
    12. Power duplication in Photoshop
      7m 9s
    13. Masking blond hair
      5m 48s
    14. Using Levels to mask iterations
      3m 14s
    15. Drawing an iteration boundary
      4m 55s
    16. Merging the best of two Levels iterations
      4m 4s
    17. More fun with Dodge and Burn
      6m 14s
    18. Fixing edges with the Pen and Stamp tools
      7m 29s
    19. Pulling from another file with Apply Image
      4m 52s
    20. Blending clipped layers independently
      5m 43s
    21. Building the flame mask
      9m 22s
    22. Amplifying the flame
      3m 53s
    23. Masking an image against a busy background
      5m 15s
    24. The Freeform and Magnetic Pen tools
      6m 52s
    25. Masking with arbitrary maps
      9m 32s
    26. A more deliberate approach to arb maps
      10m 51s
    27. Combining arb maps with paths
      9m 28s
    28. Masking with the help of the History brush
      11m 38s
    29. Creating a High Pass mask
      7m 25s
    30. Coloring in the outlines
      8m 31s
    31. Mastering Calculations
      7m 29s
    32. Subtracting and merging the beak
      11m 6s
  8. 1h 33m
    1. The meaning of bit depth (and why you care)
      2m 50s
    2. Scanning line art in 8-bit and 16-bit
      5m 9s
    3. Measuring the 16-bit difference
      8m 9s
    4. Correcting 8-bit images in the 16-bit space
      9m 31s
    5. Opening a raw image directly in 16-bit
      6m 13s
    6. Editing in Camera Raw, opening in 16-bit
      8m 22s
    7. 16-Bit/channel vs. 32-bit/channel (HDR)
      8m 18s
    8. Working with auto-bracketed photographs
      5m 6s
    9. Using the Merge to HDR command
      6m 0s
    10. Adjusting the HDR preview
      6m 0s
    11. Building a 32-bit sky mask
      6m 29s
    12. Properly exposing land and sky
      4m 25s
    13. Modifying a layer mask in 32-bit
      4m 56s
    14. Converting to and correcting in 16-bit Lab
      12m 7s
  9. 2h 8m
    1. Photoshop flirts with the third dimension
      1m 13s
    2. The displacement map
      8m 24s
    3. Making custom waves
      7m 14s
    4. Creating a Gaussian distribution
      4m 32s
    5. Using a two-channel displacement map
      6m 28s
    6. Creating a rustic edge effect
      8m 21s
    7. Distorting and shading with a DMap
      6m 34s
    8. Moonlight reflecting off water
      8m 48s
    9. Mapping the reflection onto the water
      7m 7s
    10. Dipping the moon into the water
      6m 18s
    11. Turning flesh into stone
      7m 55s
    12. Wrapping the stone around the face
      7m 27s
    13. Softening a displacement map
      8m 5s
    14. Making a repeating watermark pattern
      9m 22s
    15. 3D embossing with Lighting Effects
      10m 48s
    16. The amazing credit card type effect
      6m 56s
    17. Lightening the credit card letters
      6m 16s
    18. Wrapping the background around the text
      6m 27s
  10. 1m 43s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 43s

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Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques
20h 48m Advanced Nov 21, 2007

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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."

Topics include:
  • Distorting and shading with a DMap
  • Understanding bits and channels
  • Creating paths with the Pen tool
  • Using blend modes and the Dodge and Burn feature
  • Understanding channel mixing
  • Using layer masks, clipping masks, and knockouts
  • Applying Smart Filters
Subjects:
Design Photography Masking + Compositing
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Deke McClelland

Building the flame mask

We have got this beautiful, beautiful composition here. We have totally dealt effectively with the fact that we had a warm subject against the warm background. We have addressed the blonde hair quite nicely, it looks absolutely great against this, completely formed background, she was nowhere near the Valley Of Fire. I shot the Valley Of Fire photograph. Andre Barrack, a guy I don't even know in a totally different country shot the foreground image here. But we still have to deal with our third challenge which is the flame. The flame remains broken, and part of the problem is that the flame is darkening the background in certain places. So it's either darkening the background or it's just kind of covering up the background, it's just making what was formerly blue, orange, which is not what a flame would do it, this doesn't all of a sudden convey completely different colors. It's not like an opaque phenomenon. It lightens the background, it is a lightning agent unlike the blonde hair which does cover things up, the flame is a lightning agent and so it should probably be set to the Screen mode. Problem is, we can't independently set the flame to the Screen mode.

So we are going to have to established a new mask that just addresses the flame, and then we will jump the flame and assign the Screen blend mode and so on, you will see. But let's do the Mask first. The Mask is a very important step of course. I am working inside of a document called the Bad flame.psd, because after all, it's a bad flame and it's found inside the 16 Tough Stuff folder. I know everything else looks great, I just choose to focus on the negative, that's me, I am in a grumpy mood I guess.

All right, so let's go back to the Layers palette. Now in order to generate this Flame Mask we need to see the composite image and currently, of course, we are not seeing the composite image. So here's how we are going to see the composite image. Alt+Click or Option+Click in that horizontal line in order to turn off the Clipping Mask and then Shift+Click on the mask in order to turn it off on the layer mask, it is. So we are seeing the composite photograph from Andre Barrack. Let's now press Ctrl+1, we are just going to check out the channels once again.

Ctrl+1 for the Red Channel, that would be Command+1 on the Mac, Ctrl+2 or Command+2 for the Green Channel and Ctrl+3 or Command+3 for the Blue Channel. And in this case, I want to work with the Red Channel which, of course has a very bright flame and the Blue Channel which has a very dim flame but a very smooth background. And we are going to use the Subtract blend mode in order to draw the flame out from the background. Here's how it's going to work. I will press Ctrl or Command+~ in order to switch back to the composite image, going up to the Image menu, choosing the Calculations command. And I am going to go ahead and of course, set Source 1 and Source 2, both the Bad flame.psd. You want both of the layers to be set to Merged by the way. If you try to set both the layers to Normal which kind of makes sense because we are working on the normal layer. Then we are going to take into account the Layer masks, and we don't want to do that. So we are going to have quite the bad effects going on there.

All right, so go ahead and switch it to Merged and switch this one to Merged as well. And then switch the first channel to Red, it's already Red, so you don't need to switch that one, let's change the second channel to Blue, and I will go with the Subtract blend mode and that makes the image way too dark. So let's go ahead -- oop! Actually I am subtracting in the wrong order. The top channel needs to be Blue and the bottom channel needs to be Red, the Source 2 channel needs to be Red. Then we will go ahead and subtract out the channel. We get this freaky effect in the background, that's okay. We are going to go ahead and darken the image a little bit by reducing the Offset value to -20, and we have this very dim flame in the background, that's fine. But it is called out from sort of the banded background a little bit. We do have enough contrast to do what needs to be done.

Now I will go ahead and click OK in order to create that new channel, let's go over to the Channels palette, scroll down there it is Alpha 1. I am going to go ahead and called it flame, and I am going to drag it up to the fifth position right there. This will be where our Flame Mask resides, just to keep it handy. Now let's go ahead and increase the Contrast using the Levels command. I am going to press Ctrl+L or Command+L on a Mac to bring up the Levels dialog box. Let's reduce this white point value to 125, oops! 125, like that, so that we are brightening the heck of the flame. All we are concerned about is the flame, with her black eye holes, we are not worried about her. We are going to get rid of all that stuff shortly. And then, we will take the black value up to 30 like so, and leave the Gamma value where it is. So we have got 30, 1.0, 125, looks great, click OK in order to accept that modification there.

Now let's go ahead and zoom in on the image and I want to start things off by burning the background away. So I am going to go grab my Burn tool of course. Make sure that it's set to Shadows as it is. And notice that I have got the Air Brush turned off. I think I want to turn it on, I will go ahead and click on it there. And then I am going to drag along the flame, now you want to be very careful, very gentle with the flame because you need to treasure it dearly, because we do not want to scroll outside of flame, we want it to be nice and bright. So we want a lot of brightness left over to our flame, we just need to get rid of all the background here.

So this area is pretty easy. The stuff I have done so far is pretty easy to work with. It does take several applications of the Burn tool in order to get rid of that stuff. Here's the tender stuff, this area in the middle. If you go too hog wild with it, too fast, you are going to harm your flame and you really don't want to do that. I assure you, you want to be good to it. Here we get into even tougher territory, notice this and I am trying to be very, very careful here. Now I am going to go very, very tiny underneath this little lick of flame right there and over the top of it. You have to be careful when you are painting, when you are doing this because when you are working with a very small brush that means that, that area that is being painted is being affected to a larger degree than when you are working with a large brush.

Do you understand what I am saying? The idea is with a large brush you have a big fuzzy edge so you have a lot of wiggle room. When you are working with a tiny brush, you have only a little bit of softness associated with it, so you have to be ultra careful. All right, let's get rid of this stuff right there, maybe paint along the top there. I want to keep these guys, this guy there and this guy there and this little guy, I want to keep them, so I am not going to paint over them at all, of course. Now let's brighten using the Dodge tool, I will press the O key in order to switch over to Dodge. Let's go with a bigger brush and we can go a little bit hog wild with this one because we definitely want to dodge the heck out of the flame, we want to keep as much flame as we possibly can. Let's dodge those details good and that there, more dodge, more dodge, dodge, dodge. You don't want sharp edges, that's the only reason you don't want to go too far, but you do of course want as much flame as possible there.

Now let's switch back to Burn and I am going to paint down the side here and against the match, just a little bit, like so. And now we have got a good flame. Now let's just go ahead and grab the Lasso tool by pressing the L key, I will drag around. Go ahead and encircle the flame there, and I will press Ctrl+Shift+I or Command+Shift+I on the Mac to reverse the selection and my foreground color is black, so I will press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete in order to fill that outer selection area with black. All right, so far so good.

Now I press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to de-select the image. I want to pop the flame a little bit more, I want to actually blur it outwards, and I'll show you how I am going to pull this off. First, we'll go to the Filter menu and Gaussian Blur was the last filter I applied. So I guess I can just press Ctrl+Alt+F or Command+Option+F on the Mac to bring the Gaussian Blur dialog box up on screen and I will change the Radius value to 8, so a lot of blur is happening here. Now I'll click OK. Now immediately before you do anything else we want to go ahead and blend this filtered version of the flame with the unfiltered version of the flame. So the after with the before, so go up to the Edit menu, and choose Fade Gaussian Blur, we don't have any layers to work with inside of an Alpha Channel so we have to take advantage of fading instead.

So go ahead and choose that command and you could go ahead and assign the Screen blend mode to blur strictly outward, we have seen that before. But I just don't like the way that effect looks, it's just not quite what I am going for. So I am going to switch the mode back to Normal, and I am going to reduce the Opacity value to 80%, so we get a little bit of a pop. See what am I talking about there, so it's like a ghost flame, almost at this point. Now click OK. Now I do want it to be brighter than this, so I am going to press Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac in order to bring up the Levels dialog box and I am going to once again change this white point value to 125. Now there is no special reason I am going with 125 again, it's just that I happened to like the way this effect looks.

So 125 is what I am going for, for white point, leave the others alone, click OK, there is our Flame Mask, it's a thing of absolute beauty of course. In the next exercise, we are going to use that Flame Mask to bolster the flame in the final composition.

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