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Color channels

From: Photoshop for Designers: Color

Video: Color channels

Okay, we are going to talk about color channels and that's why I have the Channels panel open. This is an RGB image, so we have three channels Red, Green, Blue. Were this a CMYK image, we would have, you guessed it, four channels, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, and of course, we have the composite channel which shows us the image with all of those color channels superimposed on each other, all of them turned on. I am going to undo that and revert it back to an RGB image.

Color channels

Okay, we are going to talk about color channels and that's why I have the Channels panel open. This is an RGB image, so we have three channels Red, Green, Blue. Were this a CMYK image, we would have, you guessed it, four channels, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, and of course, we have the composite channel which shows us the image with all of those color channels superimposed on each other, all of them turned on. I am going to undo that and revert it back to an RGB image.

If it were a grayscale image, it would have just one channel likewise with an Indexed Color image, likewise with the Bitmap image. LAB Color has three channels, lightness, the A channel and the B channel. But whatever color mode you are working with, you are working with channels and I am going to stay in RGB to explain this, I prefer working in the RGB color mode. That color channels store the information about the color of each pixel in your image, by which I mean this.

I am going to take a sample of a point in my image, I am in my eyedropper tool and to lock a sample point onto the image, I am going to hold down the Shift key and Click. This brings up my Info panel and my sample point is right there. Now that particular color, that sort of pinky color is made up of a combination of Red at level 199, Green at level 75 and Blue a level 125.

If I wanted to see what that would be in CMYK without even needing to convert to CMYK, switch that there, and it would be Cyan 4, Magenta 86, Yellow 23. In RGB our Brightness values are on the scale of 0 to 255 for each of our color channels. So 0 is Black, 255 is White, the higher the number, the brighter the value and when we add all these together, we get the resulting color.

If I move this sample around, that particular yellow right there is made up of 235 Black, 163 green. You may have heard of the notion of 24-bit color. Each all that color channels is made up of 8 bits, 256, 2 to the power 8. 8 bits times 3 is 24 bits, that's where 24-bit color comes from. You'll notice that when we look at the color channels, we are seeing them represented as grayscale values.

And it's actually the grayscale values, the brightness values that are more useful to us, than seeing the channels themselves in color. But conceptually it may be easier to see them in color. First let's see them in black-and-white how they look, and we can evaluate the channels individually by clicking on them or by using the keyboard shortcuts, and they are indicated right here. Command+3 for Red, Command+4 for Green, Command+5 for Blue, and we can see in this image that the red values are brighter, remember the colors in this image? It's a sort of pinky red. Isn't it? So that's why the red values are brighter.

There is Red, there is Green, and there is Blue. If we turn Green and Blue on together, we see what image would look like without any Red. Red and Green together, show how the image would look without any Blue. I am going to go back to my Composite channel now. Let's view the Color channels in color. I am going to come to my Preference, Interface and turn on this option, Show Color channels in Color. And then we actually see the Red in Red and the Green in Green and the Blue in Blue.

That's useful for understanding how they work, but actually we're more interested in a practical way with the gray values in the channel. So I am now going to turn that Preference back to how it was, so I'll press Command+K or Ctrl+K and then click on Interface, uncheck Show Color Channels in color. Now as well as that color channels, where there are two other types of channel that I am just going to mention very briefly, the second type is an alpha channel and that's what we have here.

An alpha channel is nothing more than a saved selection, there are numerous ways to get a save selection, presumably you would start off using your Selection tools and then come and click on this icon down here, or from the Select menu Save the Selection and that's an alpha channel. An alpha channel has only gray values in it. The third type of channel and the one that's seldom used and the one that I will be discussing in a later movie is I Spot Color channel, where in addition to a typical printing inks, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, or just Black, we can use Spot Colors chosen from a color matching system.

And this will expand our range of printing possibilities. But the most important thing to take away from this is that it's the color channels, the combination of the Red, the Green and the Blue, or if you are working with CMYK, the combination to Cyan, the Magenta, the Yellow and the Black, that give us the appearance of color and that's how our Composite channel shows us our image.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop for Designers: Color
Photoshop for Designers: Color

75 video lessons · 17461 viewers

Nigel French
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 0s
    2. Using the exercise files
      41s
  2. 25m 26s
    1. Defining color terms
      2m 38s
    2. Understanding the color wheel
      4m 3s
    3. Understanding color relationships
      1m 7s
    4. Using Kuler to understand color harmony rules and create color palettes
      4m 2s
    5. Using the Kuler web site
      3m 10s
    6. Colors on screen and on paper
      1m 42s
    7. Color as a signifier
      3m 14s
    8. Color inspirations
      2m 39s
    9. Color and accessibility
      2m 51s
  3. 38m 22s
    1. Demystifying the Color Picker
      2m 57s
    2. Understanding the role of foreground and background colors
      5m 39s
    3. Choosing colors
      6m 41s
    4. Managing swatches
      7m 40s
    5. Transparency
      9m 42s
    6. Color channels
      5m 43s
  4. 41m 4s
    1. Understanding additive and subtractive color
      2m 57s
    2. RGB mode
      1m 56s
    3. CMYK mode
      2m 41s
    4. Lab mode
      3m 49s
    5. Indexed mode
      2m 16s
    6. Grayscale mode
      5m 0s
    7. Color management
      14m 15s
    8. Color depth (8-, 16-, 24-, and 32-bit)
      4m 19s
    9. Monitor calibration
      3m 51s
  5. 26m 43s
    1. Evaluating color with the Histogram panel
      3m 18s
    2. Evaluating color with the Info panel
      1m 48s
    3. Boosting color with levels
      3m 48s
    4. Auto Tone and Auto Contrast
      7m 38s
    5. Manually setting the black and white point
      3m 50s
    6. Curves
      6m 21s
  6. 18m 30s
    1. What is color correction?
      5m 45s
    2. White balancing in Camera Raw
      1m 46s
    3. Color correction with color balance
      1m 34s
    4. Color balancing using photo filters
      1m 26s
    5. Color correction with variations
      4m 27s
    6. Color correction by the numbers
      3m 32s
  7. 33m 14s
    1. Selecting color with the Magic Wand
      4m 43s
    2. Selecting color with the Quick Selection tool
      2m 26s
    3. Selecting color with Color Range
      4m 0s
    4. Neutralizing whites with the Multiply blend mode
      2m 55s
    5. Neutralizing blacks with the Screen blend mode
      57s
    6. Masking colors with the Blend If sliders
      2m 54s
    7. Masking hair with a channel mask and removing contaminant colors
      2m 58s
    8. Shifting targeted colors using Hue/Saturation
      5m 4s
    9. Matching colors using Hue/Saturation
      3m 16s
    10. Matching colors using the Match Color command
      1m 36s
    11. Matching colors using the Color blend modes
      2m 25s
  8. 21m 8s
    1. Saturating colors
      4m 9s
    2. Desaturating colors
      1m 57s
    3. Desaturating in Camera Raw
      3m 1s
    4. Creating a color accent with selective saturation
      2m 38s
    5. Enhancing a sunrise with a gradient map
      5m 49s
    6. Increasing vibrance
      1m 19s
    7. Using selective color
      2m 15s
  9. 32m 42s
    1. Designing with spot colors
      12m 15s
    2. Adding a fifth color to a CMYK image
      5m 0s
    3. Adding spot colors to a grayscale image
      5m 24s
    4. Create a metallic print effect
      3m 8s
    5. Creating duotones, tritones, and quadtones
      6m 55s
  10. 30m 45s
    1. Creating a silkscreen print look with a limited color palette
      7m 59s
    2. Combining color with black and white
      2m 22s
    3. Creating a nostalgic travel poster using the Cut Out filter
      6m 27s
    4. Mapping an image to a color look up table (CLUT)
      7m 56s
    5. Converting to black and white
      6m 1s
  11. 48m 34s
    1. Creating a hand-tinted portrait (the easy way)
      3m 29s
    2. Creating a hand-tinted portrait (the harder way)
      11m 23s
    3. Creating an Andy Warhol look
      4m 44s
    4. Applying a gradient map
      4m 4s
    5. Sepia toning an image
      8m 41s
    6. Color tinting an image
      5m 15s
    7. Split toning an image
      2m 9s
    8. Working with line art
      8m 49s
  12. 23s
    1. Goodbye
      23s

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