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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, the only thing that we have left is the text layers. That's the only thing that remains to be created inside of this composition, which is why I have gone ahead and named this updated version of the file, All but the text.psd. It's found inside of 15_Paths_Folder, but of course. Let's bring back the layers palette, and you can see that actually the text layers are actually ready and waiting for you. I mentioned to you at the onset that you might get some font warnings if you don't have the right fonts available to your system, and those fonts, those correct fonts for this document are Adobe Garamond Pro, and Nueva Standard. They are installed automatically with the full Creative Suite 3, with all incarnations I believe.
However, if you buy Photoshop independently, or you've an education version, you might not have those fonts available to you, and you might have to switch for other fonts. Anyway, I am going to go ahead and turn on those font layers. One is called the Woman from a'Queous, and the other is called Tammy Peluso and Alexandra Alexis. And you can see that this time around I actually spelt Tammy Peluso's name correctly. In the very first exercise I'd spelled her wrong. Even though in the sample file, it's spelled right there. The magic of Magicry. All right, so anyway, what I want to do, you may recall, go back to the version of the document that's built for us in advance, the Fish face.psd document. And you can see that I went ahead and changed the little descender that's coming off the Q, and I also changed the apostrophe a little bit, just because I wanted slightly different treatment there, just the designer thing.
What that meant was, I needed to convert the letters to shape outlines, to Vector based shape outlines, so that they would remain crisp and editable, and then I modified them using the Pen tool. But of course, and the custom Shape tool, as you will see. So why don't we do the same? Those of you who have a designer bent, who are interested in this kind of stuff, let's go ahead and zoom into the a'Que area of the image And I want you to select the woman from a'Queous layer, strictly from the Baracuda layer, and then I want you to go on to the Layer menu, and choose Type, and choose Convert to Shape. That's one way to go. By the way, if you want a different way to get there, that's a little simpler kind of. You have to Ctrl+Click out here in an empty portion of the type layer, because if you Ctrl+Click on the T, you get fewer options, notice that.
If you want a simpler method, although it's a little peculiar, you have to right-click on an empty portion of that Type layer. You can't right-click on the T, because if you do, you get fewer options available to you. You have to right-click on an empty area, and choose Convert to Shape. So that's another way to work. Either way it's going to go ahead and convert the text from editable text to path outlines. If you prefer that you didn't lose the editability of your text, because we just got rid of it, then what you would want to do is, go ahead and duplicate the layer before you convert it, and then of course hide the original version by turning off its eyeball, so you can keep it for later.
But anyway we have gone ahead and converted the editable text to high resolution vector based outlines here. And we are going to edit them, and here's what I want you to do. Go ahead and grab the White Arrow tool, and click on these points right there. Actually, you can marquee them, if you want to, notice that. Then we will press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac in order to delete them, because we want to draw in a new little curly Q down here. And I am not sure I will draw it exactly the same way I did before, but here is how I made it. I went ahead and grabbed the Pen tool now, and you can drag from this endpoint. Notice we have an endpoint here, and an endpoint there. So drag from this endpoint like so, and then I dragged like this in order to make it a little curly Q back and forth, so that we have a little back and forth action, and I am going to Ctrl+Drag it or Command+Drag it over a little bit like so, to move it's location a bit.
Then I am going to Alt+Click or Option+Click on that point, in order to sever the control handle, so we convert the smooth point into a corner point. And then I am going to click here in order to add another corner point. I am going to drag from it like so, in order to convert the corner point to a cusp point and I am going to drag like that from this point right there, in order to add the other control handle that's needed in order to complete that little curly Q right there.
And notice, just for the sake -- I am going to do that again, just so that you notice what happened. I went ahead and dragged away from the segment that I am drawing. That's the weirdest I think to get used to, is you are drawing the segment that's 180 degrees away from your cursor. So I am not even dragging a control handle anymore. I am dragging in a imaginary control handle that's controlling the opposite control handle. So we are in some very peculiar territory, but very familiar territory for Illustrator users. This is the way it's been since the dawn of time. And since sort of the middle ages for Photoshop. So now I am going to go back to the White Arrow tool, I am going to click on this path, and I am going to move it around a little bit.
How about that apostrophe people? How do we go about creating that custom apostrophe? The first thing I want you to do with the White Arrow tool is Alt+Click or Option+Click on the path outline on the outline of that apostrophe in order to select the entire thing. So that's an Alt+Click on a PC and Option+Click on a Mac with the White Arrow tool this time, we are not doing it with the Pen tool, so we are not cleaving off any control handles. What we are doing is, we are selecting the entire sub path at a time, and then press the Backspace key, or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of that preexisting, that default Viva Standard apostrophe.
Now I am going to grab the custom Shape tool. This is a little weird one I think. I am going to grab the custom Shape tool, and I am going to switch the shape from Waves to Campfire, and Campfire is way down here. This little guy. Click on it, and this assumes of course that you loaded all of the custom shapes into Photoshop. Now let's hide that list, and let's draw a campfire like so. And I am going to press the Shift key as I drag with this tool, and I am pressing the Spacebar to move it into a better location there. I am going to release the Spacebar, and reduce the size of the campfire a little bit, move it over a still more, and there we have it. There is our new campfire.
Now I neglected to add it to the existing shapes, and that was a mistake, I think. So let's go ahead and undo that maneuver there. Make sure your paths are selected as they are, and let's go up to the Options bar here and instead of having instead of having it say, what's it set to right now? It's set to Create New Shape Layer. Let's switch it to this guy, add to shape area. That's the one we want. Now draw the campfire again. And we could have cut it from that layer, moved it to the other one, but this is perhaps the better way to work. I want to show you that things can go wrong, and how to write them. Then the easiest way, what we need to do is get rid of all the campfire, except for this little guy right there, this shape.
Now what I am going to do, is I am going to go Alt+Click, Shift+Alt+Click on each of the sub paths. So I am going to start things off by Alt clicking on one of the sticks here, one of these pieces of wood. That would be an Option+Click on the Mac. Then Shift+Alt+Click, Shift+Alt+Click, Shift+Alt+Click, Shift+Alt+Click, Shift+Alt+Click, and Shift+Alt+Click, and be careful make sure you don't get the a or the Q, but you've got to Shift+Alt+Click on every single one of these sub paths, that would be Shift+Option+Click on the Mac. Every one of them except for this guy right here, and then press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac in order to get rid of them. And we are left with this. This is awesome. We've made custom character shapes using the Pen tool, and the White Arrow tool here inside of the Photoshop.
So I am going to go ahead and click on that vector mask thumbnail in order to turn it off, and then I am going to Shift+Tab away my palette to zoom out slightly so that we can take in the entire image. This is the final composition people. Thanks to the amazing power of the Pen tool, and all of its various buddies, the vector masking, and the White Arrow tool and the Black Arrow tool, of course, here in side of Photoshop. Why don't we go ahead and tab away the palettes, fill the screen with the image and zoom in here? And this is the final version of the composition. I hope you are looking at something similar on your screen.
Nicely done. This isn't exactly Pen tool mastery, I wouldn't say, but it set you on your way, and hopefully you will feel inclined to experiment a little more, and mastering it the old fashion way by gaining experience real hard one experience with the tools here inside Photoshop.
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