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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're going to finish off this project by creating an opposing colorization scheme and that opposing colorization scheme is going to be applied to the sky. We're going to turn the sky green, which is going to nicely compliment, I think, the rosy, orange colors that we have going on inside of the models. Here's how we're going to accomplish that. First of all, I want you to make sure that you're caught up with me, so you need to have this image open. Either you're working along with me and you have your image open, which is fine; or you can open this one, it's called ACOCC.psd, and it's an acronym, of course, another tiresome acronym, this one stands for a couple of colorized characters.
Here's what we're going to do. We're going to brink back up the Layers palette, if it's not already visible on your screen, and we're going to go ahead and Alt+Click on the black/white icon; that's an Option+Click on the Mac and we're going to choose Gradient Map, once again, in order to colorize the sky and we're going to call this one Sky color or something along those lines. Then click OK. This time around, I want to colorize the sky using one of the gradients that you loaded in the previous exercise, so this is one of those gradients that's available. If you weren't with us in the previous exercise, you go to Load Gradients and you'll find this file called The Gmap Eight inside of the 13_channel_mix folder.
Anyway, I've already loaded it. Go ahead and click on this guy right there, it's called X-ray invert and it's going to create a, sort of, greenish inversion effect, as we can see here, which is going to look pretty weird and extraordinary. Now you could go ahead and reverse that gradient, if you wanted to not invert the image and I do want you to invert the image, so leave the Reverse check box off, like so. So we're mapping black inside the image to white inside the gradient, and all the other luminance levels to colors in between. All right, now go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification. Now, we're going to loose this, sort of, inversion effect by assigning the Color Blend mode and the easiest way to assign the Color Blend mode at this point is just to press Shift+Alt+C or Shift+Option+C on the Mac or you can choose Color of course from the blend mode pop-up menu there in the Layers palette.
Now I want to create a luminance mask. I want to assign a luminance mask to the sky color. Now this time around, I want the sky colors to affect exactly the opposite luminance levels that are affected by the Gmap layer right here. So let's go ahead and Alt+Drag that layer mask or Option+Drag that layer mask from Gmap onto sky color, like so. Then I want you to invert it; with that layer mask active, I want you to press Ctrl+I or Command+I on the Mac in order to invert that mask and now we have a luminance mask assigned, instead. We could have just as easily borrowed the mask from the high lites layer, if we wanted to, but I just want to ensure that these guys are exact opposites.
Now we're still greenifying some of the flesh colors, as you can see. If you turn this layer off and then back on, you can see that we are making them a little bit greenish; I don't want that to happen. So I'm going to increase the contrast of this layer mask by pressing Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac and we're going to make a pretty radical modification here. I want you to take the black point value up to 140 and I want you to take this white point value down to 220, like so.
That way, we are not going to affect the interior of the model's faces but we are going to affect the sky, pretty nicely, in fact. Go ahead and click OK and you can see that we've made a heck of a modification to this mask. This is what the mask looks like. If you were to Alt+Click or Option+Click on that layer mask thumbnail there, you would see this really trippy looking mask. She is especially effective; I actually think she looks great. We're not seeing into her eyes, we're seeing her eyelids and they almost have an eyeball effect to them. Anyway, I think she looks awesome but, of course, that's just the mask, we're not going to be looking at that.
Go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click on that layer mask icon, once again. Now I want to take back the Gmap colorization a little bit. So I'm going to click on the Gmap layer to make it active and then I'm going to press the 7 key to reduce the Opacity value to 70%, as you can see here inside the Layers palette. That is it folks. We've come a long way here; this is the final version of the effect. Just to give you an idea, this is what the image looked like, originally, all right? So this is the original photograph from photographer, Alexander Hafeman, of course, and it's all very well and good, I think, but I think this is much more powerful, much more dramatic.
I'm going to go ahead and fill the screen with the image and I'm going to zoom in. What capers away our couple? We are next; if anywhere will they find shelter. Well, obviously we're not going to know the answers to those questions but we've done a brilliant job of conveying this special moment in time. Even she thinks so. I have no idea of what he is thinking.
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