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Doing the Channel Walk

From: Photoshop CS4 Power Shortcuts

Video: Doing the Channel Walk

Now if you are typical Photoshop user, you are probably absolutely terrified of the Channels panel. You are good enough here with the Layers panel to get around, you know you can create layers and move around and do a transparency and whatnot. But you go to the Channels panel and you will click over there and it's just like a whole other world. Like what are these things? And when you create a new channel, it's called Alpha 1 and what the heck does that mean? Well, channels in terms of an RGB image are just gray scale images. All right, there is a red channel, there is a green channel, there is a blue channel. Each of these gray scale channels just represents a color of light.

Doing the Channel Walk

Now if you are typical Photoshop user, you are probably absolutely terrified of the Channels panel. You are good enough here with the Layers panel to get around, you know you can create layers and move around and do a transparency and whatnot. But you go to the Channels panel and you will click over there and it's just like a whole other world. Like what are these things? And when you create a new channel, it's called Alpha 1 and what the heck does that mean? Well, channels in terms of an RGB image are just gray scale images. All right, there is a red channel, there is a green channel, there is a blue channel. Each of these gray scale channels just represents a color of light.

Now, when you look at the particular channels, the brighter the tone, the brighter the pixels. So in the red channel where there is a lot of red, that's going to be represented as a bright pixel or a white in this case. So if you take a look at this image, the parrot's got a very red head. So as you would expect when you go to the red channel, there is not a lot of dark pixels there. It's all blown out and white. Conversely, when you go to the blue channel, since there is not a lot of blue in the head, you get a little dark pixels there showing up in that channel.

Anyway, this isn't meant to be a whole crash course for channels. Assuming that you have kind of gotten somewhat comfortable with the concept of the channel, you may want to do something called the Channel Walk from the comfort of your Layers panel. Why would you do the Channel Walk? Well, you may look at this particular image and "go there is not a lot of detail in that head. I may not want to use this image." So one use of the Channel Walk is just to confirm whether or not there actually is detail in an image because if there is detail in one channel, you may be able to borrow that detail form that channel and push it into the other channels.

So, yes, you can do the Channel Walk by going to the Channels panel and clicking on the name of each individual channel and evaluating each channel, by that way or I'm going to go back to the composite channel, I can do this from the Layers panel. I never actually have to go to the Channels panel to do it. And the keyboard shortcuts are Command or Ctrl in Windows and then 2, 3, 4, and 5. So Command+3, Ctrl+3 shows you the red channel. Command+4 shows you the green channel. Command+5, Ctrl+5 shows you the blue channel. And then to get back to the composite RGB channel, it's Command or Ctrl+2.

So I don't know if you are paying attention but if you take a look at the green channel again, so 3 is red, 4 is green. Take a look. What do you see in that head in the green channel? You see lots of detail. So let's say that you are going to be creating a gray scale conversion or black and white conversion. What you have just learned is that there actually is detail to borrow from and if you weight the black and white conversion using information from the green channel as supposed to the red channel, you are going to get a much better looking gray scale image. And in fact if you just convert it from the red channel, Command+3, Ctrl+3 you get a much different looking image, right.

So the Channel Walk is a very useful skill. When you have got problem images, it's always a good idea to go look at the individual channels and see where their problems are. Whether it's detail in one channel, whether it's novice in another channel and it just helps you kind of dissect what the image is made up of. To get back to the composite again, it's Command+2. Just as a reminder, you know when you are in the Layers panel, it's the Command key or the Ctrl key and these numbers. If you are in a dialog like the Levels dialog or the Curves dialog or if you are using the new Adjustments panel inside Photoshop CS4, then navigating the channels that way requires the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key on Windows mainly because you are just in a different context. So from the Layers, it's Command or Ctrl and then 2, 3, 4 and 5. In a dialog or in the Adjustments panel, it's the Option or Alt key and then 2, 3, 4 and 5.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS4 Power Shortcuts
Photoshop CS4 Power Shortcuts

191 video lessons · 10850 viewers

Michael Ninness
Author

 
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  1. 1m 43s
    1. Welcome
      1m 0s
    2. Using the exercise files
      43s
  2. 48m 33s
    1. The Make Better key
      2m 48s
    2. Tool shortcuts
      2m 50s
    3. Spring-loaded tool shortcuts
      1m 43s
    4. Zooming
      2m 35s
    5. Bird's-Eye View
      1m 50s
    6. Hiding panels
      2m 24s
    7. Changing brush size and hardness
      2m 59s
    8. Resetting and swapping colors
      2m 34s
    9. Opacity
      2m 30s
    10. Labels and arrow keys
      3m 15s
    11. Scrubby sliders
      3m 7s
    12. Measurement system overrides
      2m 14s
    13. Auto Select Layer
      2m 42s
    14. Nudging
      52s
    15. Previewing, resetting, canceling, and applying
      1m 39s
    16. Context menus
      2m 41s
    17. Undo
      1m 59s
    18. Editing keyboard shortcuts
      3m 43s
    19. Discovering what's new and finding help
      3m 1s
    20. Resetting preferences at launch
      1m 7s
  3. 46m 37s
    1. The Application frame
      2m 16s
    2. The Application bar
      1m 45s
    3. Opening files from Bridge
      1m 51s
    4. Working with tabbed documents
      2m 7s
    5. Cycling through open documents
      49s
    6. The Arrange Documents widget
      1m 22s
    7. Moving layers between documents
      1m 47s
    8. Keyboard shortcuts for tile options
      2m 7s
    9. Stop tabbing my documents!
      1m 50s
    10. Panning and zooming all windows
      2m 40s
    11. Closing all documents
      20s
    12. Open GL navigation
      2m 27s
    13. New document tricks
      1m 22s
    14. The Rotate view
      1m 37s
    15. Cycling through the screen modes
      1m 52s
    16. Customizing the application background
      1m 33s
    17. Status bar tricks
      1m 44s
    18. Panel management options
      3m 32s
    19. Managing panels with multiple panel docks
      2m 30s
    20. Creating a panel flotilla
      2m 47s
    21. Saving custom workspaces
      3m 0s
    22. Quick spot and dust removal workflow
      3m 9s
    23. Opening a flattened version of a layered file
      2m 10s
  4. 8m 50s
    1. Tool presets
      2m 25s
    2. Resetting all tools
      1m 9s
    3. Changing the Tools panel
      1m 59s
    4. Customizing presets with the Preset Manager
      3m 17s
  5. 4m 57s
    1. Accessing the Move tool from any tool
      1m 33s
    2. Selecting layers
      3m 24s
  6. 15m 7s
    1. Selection modifiers
      4m 8s
    2. Transforming selections
      2m 56s
    3. Quick Mask is your friend
      4m 22s
    4. Viewing a selection as an alpha channel
      1m 31s
    5. Reselecting a previous selection
      2m 10s
  7. 8m 3s
    1. The lasso tools
      2m 9s
    2. The Magnetic Lasso tool
      5m 54s
  8. 9m 41s
    1. Options for the Crop tool
      1m 16s
    2. The Hide and Delete options in the Crop tool
      1m 22s
    3. Bringing back hidden pixels with Reveal All
      55s
    4. Making the canvas bigger with the Crop tool
      2m 45s
    5. Relative canvas size
      1m 9s
    6. Cropping in perspective
      2m 14s
  9. 4m 12s
    1. The Eyedropper tool
      1m 10s
    2. The Color Sampler tool
      1m 23s
    3. Straightening a crooked image
      49s
    4. Measuring an angle
      50s
  10. 5m 26s
    1. Saving file size when healing and cloning
      1m 42s
    2. Cloning from a different document
      58s
    3. Clone first, then heal
      2m 46s
  11. 7m 27s
    1. A new way to change brush size and hardness
      2m 17s
    2. Cycling through the brushes
      1m 51s
    3. Painting a straight line
      2m 2s
    4. Painting a dotted line
      1m 17s
  12. 2m 6s
    1. Cycling through gradient styles
      2m 6s
  13. 3m 34s
    1. Using fill commands instead of the Bucket tool
      3m 34s
  14. 6m 45s
    1. Options for the shape tools
      4m 2s
    2. Arrow options for the Line tool
      1m 38s
    3. Add a new shape to an existing shape layer
      1m 5s
  15. 36m 10s
    1. Point type vs. paragraph type
      2m 10s
    2. Canceling and applying text edits
      2m 1s
    3. Repositioning text while in the Type tool
      1m 32s
    4. Selecting text on a type layer
      2m 19s
    5. Renaming a text layer
      1m 58s
    6. Shift + click near an existing type layer
      1m 9s
    7. A better way to preview fonts
      3m 7s
    8. Jumping directly to the font you want
      3m 8s
    9. Changing type size and color
      3m 0s
    10. Accessing the Character and Paragraph panels
      1m 50s
    11. Type size keyboard shortcuts
      52s
    12. Kerning and tracking keyboard shortcuts
      2m 10s
    13. Leading keyboard shortcuts
      59s
    14. Alignment keyboard shortcuts
      1m 4s
    15. Changing multiple type layers at once
      1m 15s
    16. How to hang your punctuation
      1m 16s
    17. Using filters and keeping type editable
      2m 54s
    18. Checking spelling
      51s
    19. Using presets for the Type tool as styles
      2m 35s
  16. 50m 28s
    1. Converting a background layer
      53s
    2. Duplicating a layer with the keyboard
      1m 13s
    3. Duplicating a layer with the mouse
      55s
    4. Duplicating layers across documents
      2m 0s
    5. Selecting layers with the keyboard
      2m 44s
    6. Changing layer stacking order
      1m 58s
    7. Layer visibility shortcuts
      1m 31s
    8. Undoing layer visibility
      1m 34s
    9. Creating new layers
      1m 30s
    10. Creating a new layer below the active layer
      40s
    11. Locking transparency
      1m 22s
    12. Making selections from layers
      3m 29s
    13. Turning selections into layers
      4m 39s
    14. Changing the thumbnails in the Layers panel
      1m 24s
    15. Changing layer opacity
      1m 0s
    16. Changing fill opacity
      2m 9s
    17. Grouping and ungrouping layers
      1m 28s
    18. Collapsing and expanding all layer groups
      1m 52s
    19. Deleting layers and groups
      1m 4s
    20. Layer clipping masks
      3m 28s
    21. Cycling through the blend modes
      1m 57s
    22. Keyboard shortcuts for specific blend modes
      1m 25s
    23. Merging layers
      2m 27s
    24. Creating a composite copy of a layer group
      1m 48s
    25. Creating a composite copy of visible layers
      2m 26s
    26. Copying visible layers
      2m 44s
    27. Color-coding layers
      48s
  17. 18m 19s
    1. Different ways to view a layer mask
      1m 58s
    2. Toggling between a layer and a layer mask
      1m 25s
    3. Moving a layer mask to a different layer
      1m 19s
    4. Duplicating a layer mask
      1m 53s
    5. Adding a layer mask on a layer group
      2m 48s
    6. Pasting into a layer mask
      2m 6s
    7. Moving layers and layer masks
      1m 42s
    8. Inverting layer masks
      2m 9s
    9. Refine Mask shortcuts
      2m 9s
    10. Deleting a layer mask
      50s
  18. 22m 55s
    1. Working smarter by changing your keyboard shortcuts
      3m 50s
    2. Toggling the preview of an adjustment layer
      1m 10s
    3. Targeted Curves adjustments
      1m 38s
    4. Targeted Hue/Saturation adjustments
      1m 30s
    5. Adjustment layer options
      58s
    6. Cycling through channels for Curves and Levels
      1m 32s
    7. Cycling through Hue/Saturation colors
      1m 2s
    8. Clipping adjustment layers automatically
      2m 37s
    9. Starting with a selection
      2m 1s
    10. Saving time with adjustment layer presets
      3m 22s
    11. Bonus: Auto commands as adjustment layers
      3m 15s
  19. 10m 10s
    1. Options for the Curves adjustment layer
      1m 52s
    2. Setting a curve point in the composite channel
      2m 0s
    3. Setting a curve point in each color channel
      1m 58s
    4. Working with curve points
      1m 57s
    5. Accessing the Tonal Clipping preview
      2m 23s
  20. 13m 35s
    1. Scaling layer styles
      1m 59s
    2. Moving and copying layer styles
      1m 50s
    3. Creating strokes with sharp corners
      1m 16s
    4. Saving a layer style
      3m 16s
    5. Adding a watermark to an image
      2m 45s
    6. Performance tip: Hide all layer effects
      1m 1s
    7. Tricks for opening the Layer Style dialog box
      1m 28s
  21. 6m 54s
    1. Doing the Channel Walk
      3m 38s
    2. Loading selections from channels with the mouse
      1m 32s
    3. Loading selections from channels with the keyboard
      1m 44s
  22. 13m 30s
    1. Toggling the rulers, guides and grids
      2m 12s
    2. Locking and snapping
      1m 51s
    3. Changing the orientation of guides
      2m 8s
    4. Snapping guides to ruler marks
      38s
    5. Changing the measurement system
      1m 1s
    6. Using Percentage to create guides
      2m 30s
    7. Guides and image size
      1m 43s
    8. Changing the ruler origin point
      1m 27s
  23. 17m 58s
    1. Everyday modifiers for Free Transform
      1m 43s
    2. Distorting transformations
      54s
    3. Skewing transformations
      58s
    4. Perspective transformations
      57s
    5. Where are the Free Transform handles?
      1m 33s
    6. Transform Again
      1m 21s
    7. Transform Again and Copy
      1m 18s
    8. Moving the transformation center point
      1m 32s
    9. Aligning a layer to the center of a document
      1m 17s
    10. Nondestructive transformations
      3m 38s
    11. Warp transformations
      2m 47s
  24. 7m 18s
    1. Reapplying the last filter you used
      42s
    2. Reopening the last filter you used
      40s
    3. Assigning shortcuts to your favorite filters
      1m 15s
    4. Using filters nondestructively
      2m 0s
    5. Applying a filter to multiple layers
      2m 41s
  25. 10m 3s
    1. Combining files to layers from Adobe Bridge
      44s
    2. Making Bicubic Sharper the default algorithm
      2m 44s
    3. Choosing a different color ramp
      1m 9s
    4. Format multiple files with a template and variables
      5m 26s
  26. 1m 14s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 14s

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