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Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals is the introductory installment of Deke McClelland's four-part series on making photorealistic compositions in Photoshop. The course shows how to make selections, refine the selections with masks, and then combine them in new ways, using layer effects, blend modes, and other techniques to create a single seamless piece of artwork. Deke introduces the Channels panel and the alpha channel, the key to masking and transparency in Photoshop; reviews the selection tools, including the Color Range tool , Quick Mask mode, and the Refine Edge command; and shows how to blend masked images so they interact naturally.
In this exercise, I am going to show you how those selection calculations that we saw I applied to selections, also may be applied to layers, layer masks, channels and paths. Now I'm going to be throwing a lot of keyboard shortcuts at you. These are very useful shortcuts indeed, I don't expect you to memorize them right now and I'm not even going to really contextualize them. I am just going to fly them by you, so that you know that they are there. We will be seeing them repeated over and over again throughout these Masking and Compositing courses.
But for now, I just want to make you aware of their existence. Now as you recall, you press the Shift key to add to your selection, you press Alt or Option to subtract, and you press Shift+Alt or Shift+Option to find the intersection. You do those exact same things with layers, layer masks, channels and path outlines except you add one more key, and that's the Ctrl key on the PC or the Command key on a Mac. So let me show you how it works. I've got to open this file called Smilapalooza.psd.
And let's say, using the Rectangular Marquee tool, I go ahead and draw a big rectangular marquee like this. That partially covers up that smiley face (:-)) not entirely but a little bit. Now notice, that if I press the Ctrl key or the Command key on a Mac and I click on that smiley layer and you need to click on its thumbnail, by the way, not on the layer itself because if you Ctrl+ Click or Command+Click on layer, then you'll end up adding it to the list of selected layers. That's not what we want so we will Ctrl+ Click or Command+Click on that layer again.
If you Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on the layer's thumbnail, then you will replace the selection with the transparency mask that's associated with that layer. Alright, I will press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac to undo that change. If you want to add then you press Ctrl+ Shift and notice we get a little plus sign inside the cursor. That's going to be Command+Shift on a Mac, and then you click and you go ahead and add the transparency mask information to the selection. All right, I will press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z again in order to undo that change.
To subtract, you press Ctrl+ Alt or Command+Option on a Mac. Notice you get a minus sign inside that cursor, go ahead and click, and then you'll subtract the layers transparency information from that selection. And finally, I will go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z again. And if you press Ctrl+Shift+Alt, so all three modifier keys that's Command+Shift+Option on a Mac, you'll see a little X inside the cursor, go ahead and click on that thumbnail and you'll find the intersection of that marquee and the transparency mask data associated with this layer.
And the transparency mask information, by the way, that's just a fancy name for the contents of the layer. All right, and that's just where it starts. I am going to go ahead and press Ctrl+ Z or Command+Z again, to reinstate that rectangular marquee. You can do all that stuff to any layer in a stack or any of the layer masks as well. So, for example, I will just press Ctrl+ Shift+Alt or Command+Shift+Option on a Mac, and click on that layer masks for the rays layer and you can see that it's a radial gradient, and so what Photoshop did was it went ahead and found the intersection of the rectangle, and that radial gradient.
So white represent selection, black represents de-selection, we've got all kinds of softness going on because of the gradient, but the marching ants just go ahead and cut off at 50% selected. Alright, let's go and press Ctrl+Z, Command +Z on a Mac in order to undo that change. Switch to the Channels panel and notice that I have this big ellipse alpha channel right there. If I Ctrl+Shift+Alt+Click on it or Command+Shift+Option+Click, then I will go ahead and find the intersection of that rectangle along with the ellipse.
And then finally, I will go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z again. Switchover to the Paths panel, there is this big guy path right there. I will go ahead and move my selection down so it covers up more of him and I will press Ctrl+Shift+Alt or Command+Shift+Option on a Mac. I'm just running through this intersection thing over and over again so you get the idea and click on him in order to find the intersection of the path outlined along with that rectangular marquee. And just to make things that much more overwhelming, you can run these various calculations between layers, layer masks, channels and path outlines as much as you want.
So you can combine these things up, down and sideways. Now, for the present, you may be relieved we are not going to do anything with this information. I just wanted to bring it up. So you're aware of your selection calculation options. However, in future chapters as well as future courses, we are going to be taking advantage of those shortcuts over and over again. In the next exercise, I will show you a completely different way to manipulate a selection outline and you'll see how to transform a selection independently of the image. I'll even show you why in the world you'd want to do so.
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