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Creating alpha channels

From: Bert Monroy: Dreamscapes Volume 1

Video: Creating alpha channels

In this movie we are going to cover how to create alpha channels. Now, the easiest way to create an alpha channel is to be in the Channels Panel, and simply click on Create New Channel. Now, that creates a totally black channel which means it will have no effect at all, it's totally black. The entire image is protected. Now that we have this blank channel, we can start to draw into it to do things like let's just say we create this little swirl like this. So now I can come over here, load that channel, and we'll hide the marching ants, so we don't see those, and I can go in there and say let's go and colorize that.

Creating alpha channels

In this movie we are going to cover how to create alpha channels. Now, the easiest way to create an alpha channel is to be in the Channels Panel, and simply click on Create New Channel. Now, that creates a totally black channel which means it will have no effect at all, it's totally black. The entire image is protected. Now that we have this blank channel, we can start to draw into it to do things like let's just say we create this little swirl like this. So now I can come over here, load that channel, and we'll hide the marching ants, so we don't see those, and I can go in there and say let's go and colorize that.

So, I'll go to Hue/Saturation, Colorize, increase the saturation, and you see that, that area is being controlled inside the alpha channel. That's the quickest way of creating one provided you have nothing in mind from the image to create that alpha channel. Now, another way is to have something selected. So, what I'm going to do here is I'm going to select this rock, because in the exercise, I have an alpha channel already created for this rock. So I have that, and I'm going to go over here and say Save Selection, where I have the ability to save the alpha channel, and give it a name.

Now, another very important thing to look at this window here is that there is the document. You will notice that I can actually send it to a new document. So, the alpha channel does not have to reside with the actual file. So, you are not limited to the number of alpha channels in a particular image or you might want to have say a couple of 100 alpha channels that you don't want your client to see. So you can put all the alpha channels for a particular file in a completely separate file, and that way, you could use them. You could also send it to a new channel or you can actually just bring it in, and replace an existing channel.

So, if I click on Alpha 1, which is the little swirl I made, and you can see it down here in the panel, it will replace that particular channel. So now that I have it, I click OK, and there is the rock. Now, once it is there, I deselect it, and I go to that channel, and I can see the RGB on top of it. You notice its showing up as a quick mask. Now, if red is not a good color to see the stuff behind, you can double-click on it, which brings you up to the options, which allow you to name it again or choose a different color.

So, I can go in here and say use green, and increase the opacity, so I can see more of it and so on. So there, now it's using green. So now once I have that, I can come in here, get in real close, and refine this mask to get it just the way I want. Remember that white exposes, black protects. So, if I paint with black, I'm going to be protecting. If I paint with white, I'm going to be exposing. So now, I can go in there and very specifically, go in there and say I wanted to get these little areas, and start to paint my alpha channel the way I want it.

And once I have all those areas exposed and just get just how I want it, I can go in there, and then I have an alpha channel which will allow me to select this rock as you will see in the various exercises where I use that. Now, sometimes you can pull an alpha channel from an existing image. Now, this is without selecting it. I'm going to redo what I did in that particular exercise where I used this waterfall as a waterfall falling from the high cliff. I'm going to look at the existing channels to make it easy, because this is not an easy thing to select on its own.

So, I'm going to look and see where I'm going to have my contrast. Is it in the red? Is it in the green or in the blue? The blue, the blue is giving me the most contrast. You can see how white it is here and how gray the rocks are as opposed to the red where they are fairly even and the green where they are pretty close, whereas the blue is giving me a strong contrast. So, by taking the blue and duplicating it, I get blue copy. Now, the image did not get any bluer, because remember, the alpha channel has nothing to do with the actual image, it is simply a mask.

So, in that blue channel, I can now go in there, and we'll bring up our levels. And I can go in there and take all my midtones and darken them, and take all my dark tones and darken them, and make those whites stronger, see. Click OK, then all the grays that are left, I can quickly eliminate those. Press F here so I can get a full screen, and I can go in here, and I'll select this entire area up here, and I'll just say, fill it with black. And I can take this entire area here and say fill it with black, this whole area here and then down here.

So now I can be a little more selective and go in here with a brush and paint these areas to black, and there you'll see that I'll now have an alpha channel that exposes just this water here. So, I can do things to it in the image. So, once I have all my water selected right there just, like so. I can now go back to the image, load that alpha channel which selects the water. So now, I'm going to just hide those marching ants so we can easily see what's about to happen.

So I can in there and say let's colorize this. Let's throw a little tone in there. Let's say we throw a little red in there. We could just make it red, see. Do anything we want to it, or make it a little lighter, make it a little darker, whatever. If we want to throw a gradient through there, we can, because we'll just throw a nice little gradient so it's water turning into blood or whatever. Now, whatever we want to do there, we can because the water has been selected from the rest of the image. And in that particular case, we use an existing channel to make our alpha channel.

So creating alpha channels has many different ways, but the uses are infinite.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Bert Monroy: Dreamscapes Volume 1
Bert Monroy: Dreamscapes Volume 1

58 video lessons · 14435 viewers

Bert Monroy
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 12s
    1. Welcome
      58s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 14s
  2. 23m 11s
    1. Using clipping groups
      3m 33s
    2. Explaining alpha channels
      6m 29s
    3. Using layer masks
      3m 47s
    4. Creating alpha channels
      5m 56s
    5. Using Adobe Bridge to stay organized
      3m 26s
  3. 26m 6s
    1. Introduction
      14s
    2. Preparing the scene: Retouching
      7m 36s
    3. Turning day into night
      6m 18s
    4. Creating the sky
      6m 24s
    5. Creating chimney smoke
      5m 34s
  4. 16m 23s
    1. Introduction
      14s
    2. Creating the castle
      6m 14s
    3. Creating a floating island
      3m 29s
    4. The final composite
      6m 26s
  5. 29m 22s
    1. Introduction
      30s
    2. Creating the basic cliff
      4m 50s
    3. Including cliff details
      2m 38s
    4. Adding plateau details
      8m 53s
    5. Creating a cascading waterfall
      5m 31s
    6. Building a rock cliff
      2m 13s
    7. The final composite
      4m 47s
  6. 30m 49s
    1. Introduction
      40s
    2. Creating terrain
      3m 47s
    3. Adding buildings
      9m 18s
    4. Creating the planet
      4m 7s
    5. Creating planet rings
      9m 39s
    6. Adding atmosphere
      3m 18s
  7. 25m 4s
    1. Introduction
      49s
    2. Creating islands
      5m 56s
    3. Creating a beach
      4m 28s
    4. Adding a planet and a moon
      6m 42s
    5. Adding the secret base
      7m 9s
  8. 49m 34s
    1. Introduction
      33s
    2. Manipulating the plane with the Pen tool
      8m 12s
    3. Adding the logo to a curved surface
      4m 14s
    4. Compositing and aging the plane
      6m 14s
    5. Busting up the plane
      8m 54s
    6. Breaking glass
      5m 53s
    7. Adding moss and lighting
      7m 15s
    8. Adding water and reflection
      5m 2s
    9. Applying finishing touches
      3m 17s
  9. 26m 41s
    1. Introduction
      15s
    2. Creating the sea
      4m 15s
    3. Creating the dome
      8m 4s
    4. Compositing and colorizing the city
      9m 3s
    5. Adding a flock of birds with the Pen tool
      5m 4s
  10. 21m 6s
    1. Introduction
      22s
    2. Creating the scene
      7m 49s
    3. Making a castle on an island
      7m 16s
    4. Adding foliage
      5m 39s
  11. 27m 12s
    1. Introduction
      53s
    2. Composing the scene
      9m 6s
    3. Creating explosions
      8m 54s
    4. Adding flying debris
      3m 30s
    5. Applying finishing touches
      4m 49s
  12. 26s
    1. Final thoughts
      26s

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