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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, I am going to show you how to edit an existing path using the Arrow tools and if you want to catch up with me, you can. You can open this document called Free-form polygon.psd that contains our original base images along with that free form polygon path outline that I just drew in the previous exercise. So go to the Paths palette and make sure that Free-form polygon is active. Click on it if necessary and you will see the outline here in the Image window. Incidentally if you wan to turn an outline off so that you are no longer seeing it, you just click in this empty area down here at the bottom of the Paths palette.
If you can't see an empty area because the Paths palette is all full you have got a scroll bar over here on the right edge and so on, then you do this instead. Shift+Click on that selected item in order to deactivate it. Now notice Shift+Clicking on the active item turns it off but you cannot add additional paths. You cannot select additional path entries by Shift+Clicking. So if I click on this free form polygon and then I Shift+Click on waves, only waves will be selected. So you can only have one path entry selected at a time. Now Photoshop calls each one of these items a path. Even though, each one of the paths can contain multiple paths itself as you can see here in the case of the waves path. But Photoshop terms these sub-paths.
So basically call these guys paths and the multiple paths that are inside the path are called sub-paths, just so you know. Anyway, I am going to go back here to free form polygon which just contains one sub-path, I am going to just call it a path and a path entry because I think that makes a heck of a lot more sense. And now at this point, let's go ahead and edit this path. Now you should see the path outline but you won't see any anchor points until you select that path using the Arrow tools. So notice if you click and hold on this Black Arrow tool you will see that there is a Path Selection tool and what's called a Direct Selection tool and you can switch between them by pressing the A key. A for what, A for Arrow. That's why I call them what they is which is Black Arrow tool and the White Arrow tool.
The Black Arrow tool allows you to select entire path groups and then the Direct Selection tool allows you to select inside of the path. So that you can select individual segments and anchor points and control handles and things that we haven't seen yet. So go ahead and grab that Black Arrow tool for starters and click anywhere in the Path outline and you will see that you select the entire darn thing. I am going to Shift+Tab away my palettes and I am going to switch to the Full Screen mode by pressing the F key and I am going to scroll my image over to the left a little bit so that I can see the entire path outline out here in the gray pasteboard as well. And notice that every single one of the square anchor points is solid.
So it maybe a different color. You may see them show up a cyan or as blue or some other color variation. But they are solid squares meaning that every single one of the anchor points is selected. So if I drag anywhere on this path outline whether it's on a point or a segment, I am going to move the entire thing around as you are seeing me do right here. It's a little clunky because it's trying to snap to different locations inside of the image. All right, I am going to go ahead and undo that movement. What if you want to move a specific anchor point? You want to move it independently of other anchor points inside of the path. Why then you switch over to the Direct Selection tool and I am going to do that by pressing the A key in order to switch to the White Arrow tool right there and then click off the path. This is the easiest way. Because right now still everybody is selected.
So if you start dragging them around they are all going to move but if you want to select a specific point just click off of it and then click back on it at some place and I recommend you click on a segment. That you haven't identified a point yet and notice that all the points are hollow now because none of them are active. You have made this one segment active and if you start dragging it around you will notice you move the bar. You move that straight line and its neighboring point move along with it but everybody else stays where they are in the neighboring segment stretch. Anyway, let's go ahead and put that back where it was. If you move an independent anchor point you click on it to make it active. Now it solid ones again. Therefore it's selected and then you can move it to a different location if you want to by dragging it or watch this. If you click on a point this point right there and I want to nudge it I would press the Arrow keys on the keyboard.
So Up Arrow nudges it upward, you can nudge it to the right, left, down, etcetera. If you want big nudges you would press the Shift key while pressing the arrow key, like so and that will move the point in 10 pixel increments. All right, let's go ahead and drag that back where it was. That's a good location for it I think and I am going to make some other modifications here and there. You can feel free to zoom in. Of course, you can zoom in on your image and move these points around to your hearts content. So I am going to try to move these to different location. All right, so that's the basic way to modify a path is to just go ahead and select anchor points and move anchor points around. What if you want to add or delete anchor points inside of a path? Well, that's something I am going to show you in the next exercise.
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