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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."
All right gang, we are now ready to use the Displacement Map in order to distort this American flag here, in order to wave it and shade the flag as well. I am working in a catchup document called Rustic edges.psd that represents the culmination of my labors in the previous exercise. And you'll notice if you check out the Layers palette, you'll notice that it went and threw the Stroke Layer and the Text Layer away, because we are not using those anymore. You can toss them too if you want to. And make sure that the flag layers is active and that it's linked, you should see this little Chain icon, it's linked to its layer mask, because otherwise if it's not linked to it's layer mask and you apply the Displace filter, you'll displace the flag but you won't displace the map, and that would be a problem of course, you would have this strange shape going on, you get the idea.
Anyway, before we apply the Displace Filter let's go ahead and add a drop shadow to the flag. So click the fx icon, choose the Drop Shadow command. And I am going to go ahead and adjust the settings like so. I am going to move the Angle this direction to something like 38 degrees. And then I am going to take the Size value up to 45 pixels, maybe raise the distance value just a little bit as well, and that looks great. I am not concerned about specifics in this case, just going for something that looks half way decent. Click OK in order to accept that modification, and I do want a drop shadow to make it look like the flag is raised with respect to its background.
All right, next let's go up to the Filter menu, and choose Distort, and choose Displace you maybe able to press Ctrl+ Alt+F or Command+Option+F if you've been working right along with me. And here are the values that I am going to apply -30 for the Horizontal Scale value, and -70 for the Vertical Scale value, because I want to move the black and white pixels in opposite directions this time around. You want Displace map set to Stretch To Fit. Undefined area though doesn't matter, can be Wrap Around, or Repeat Edge Pixels either one, isn't going to matter, because we don't have any edge pixels to work with. We are not going to have any undefined areas, yay.
Now I'll click OK and go to the Dmaps folder that's found inside of the 18_Displace Maps folder, and I want you to find this file right there Wave V&H.psd, the one that was created, thanks to alien intervention and click the Open button in order to apply your distortion. And there it is, we don't have any weird edges this time, it actually looks very, very nice in my opinion. It's a little tilted down into the right but we'll take care of that in a moment. Now, I am going to move to the other image that I have open, that I would like you to open as well. The Wave V&H.psd image that's found inside of the Dmaps sub-folder which is in the 18_Displace Maps folder, and I would like you to press Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C in order to copy it to the clipboard, that's a Command+A, Command+C on the Mac. Then return to the flag image and press Ctrl+V or Command+V on the Mac in order to paste that image into place. It will appear on the layer of course. So let's ahead and rename that layer, shading or something along those lines.
Now, I could apply the Overlay Mode, that's kind of the most logical choice here, because I do want to shade the image, I want to make the highlights lighter and the shadows darker that whole number. So Overlay is a great mode for that purpose, that's the when in doubt mode. So you press Shift+Alt+O or Shift+Option+O on the Mac to apply the Overlay blend mode. But I think that's too much. It sort of gives the flag a metallic look in my opinion and I don't want that. So I am going to back it off by moving to the next mode. If I press Shift++, I will move to the Soft Light Mode, and that's what I want in the case of this image, looks great actually.
All right, now let's get rid of the palettes for a moment again and I am going to press Ctrl+T to Command+T on the Mac to enter the Free Transform mode, and I am going to Alt+Drag or Option+Drag this handle outwards so that I am scaling both the left and right sides of this layer outward. And this looks pretty good, we want it to be bigger than the flag and it is at this point. So press the Enter key or Return key on the Mac to accept your transformation. And then I am going to up to the Layer menu and I am going to choose Create Clipping Mask, and you can also press Ctrl+Alt+G or Command+Option+G on the Mac if you want to.
The thing about Ctrl+Alt+G is that if you've got Google installed in your browser on the PC, then it's going to interfere with this keyboard shortcut. Anyway, go ahead and apply this command and you will clip the shading inside of the flag, looks dandy. All right, so let's go ahead and bring back the Layers palette. This is what the layer looks like without the shading, and this is what it looks like with the shading. So it's subtle but it's nice. I think it makes a very nice addition to this composition. Now Shift+Click on the flag make sure that they are both selected there. I am going to Shift+Tab away the palettes again, because I don't have much room to work on the screen here, and I am going to press Ctrl+T with both of these layers selected. I press Ctrl+T or Command+T on the Mac to enter the Free Transform mode, and I am going to drag outside of the boundary in order to rotate the flag a little bit like so, actually quite a bit I think.
And then I'll press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to accept that modification. One more thing that I want to do, I am going to bring back the Layers palette for the 19th time here. Click on the background layer, I want to shade that background layer as well. So I got the background layer selected, get rid of the Layers palette, press Ctrl+V or Command+V on the Mac to paste in that exact same displacement map. Press Ctrl+T or Command+T on the Mac in order to enter the Free Transform. Press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and drag that corner handle outward so that you are scaling in all directions from the central point there.
Once you've got the layer too big, go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to apply the transformation. Now we are up-sampling the heck out of this Displacement Map. But it's so blurry that that's not really going to matter. It's not like we are trying to introduce new details or we have any detail to work with really to speak of. All right again, I want to apply the Soft Light Mode, so I am going to press Shift+Alt+F or Shift+Option+F on the Mac. And now let's take the Opacity down to 50% by pressing the 5 key, and that is our finished effect people. A nice rustic flag against the rustic background, the whole things is so darn rustic, my gosh, makes me feel like having some apple pie, it's that rustic I swear to you. All right, I am going to press the F key a couple of times, Tab away the palette and zoom in.
And that is the final version of the flag. In the next exercise we are going to take it up a notch and we are going to see how to create a water reflection again using a Custom displacement map.
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