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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."
Check out this professional quality Sepia tone who would not be proud to hang this on the wall of his or her home more office. The topic of this exercise is what if you feel like the Channel Mixer command it doesn't give you quiet enough control, or if you want to update to a little bit wipe in. You can switch off to the new Black and White function inside the Photoshop CS3, it gives you a little more power, power. So let's see how it works. I am going to go ahead and deselect this image. I am working by the way If you are just showing me. I am working inside this image called Sepia smushin.psd, and it's found inside of the 13 Channel Mix folder. I am going to bring up my Layers palette so that you can see all the layers that are going to into the mix. Here we got the original. Let's go ahead and turn these guys off. Forget the original RGB image from photographer Alexander Hafemen. On top of that we've got the Channel Mixer adjustment layer that is still in the image down into a Custom Black&White Mix.
We didn't have a Curves adjustment layer which is adding a little bit of Contrast. And then I've got this sepia layer which is infusing the shadows and the mid-tones to a lesser extend with some color. Let's go to the Channel Mixer adjustment layer right there, go ahead and click on it. Let's switch it out for a different kind of adjustment layer. Let's move him over so that we can see her to a limited extend here. And I am going to bring up the Histogram palette so that I can keep an eye what's going on. Let's go ahead and update it.
Now, let's switch this B&W layer by going up to the Layers palette choosing Change Layer Content. This is how you convert one kind of adjustment layer to another kind. And let us switch it to a Black & White adjustment layer, so, now, effectively, the Old Channel Mixer function is gone so that command has been erased from the Mix. And we are now replacing it with these Black & White settings right here. Now the important thing to know; too important thing actually is that we are mixing Reds, Yellows, Greens, Cyans, Blues, and Magentas. So we have six color primaries instead of just Red, Green, and Blue. And it really doesn't matter whether they add up to any old percent or not. They are not cumulative in the same way that the Red, Green, and Blue functions inside the Channel Mixer dialog box are. And there is really actually the dialog box this guy here Black & White it setup so that you never.
Even if you go very, very radical with these options you are never going to really clip highlights or shadows. As witnessed by what we are about to do. Let's go ahead and raised the Red value to 50%, I'll just take it up by 10% there. And then I am going to tab my way down. But actually before I do I want to go ahead and show you this. Notice if I really raised to hack out of the Reds, I am not clipping; I am just smushing in this case the Histogram smushing it over to the right sides. So I am favoring the highlights but I am never clipping the highlights inside the image. We do have a train wreck of an image going on here. I don't think it looks very good. And this guy still requires here being burnt alive by some hideous light source. But, so let's go ahead and take it down. I am going to take the Reds value down to 50%, and then I am going tabbed Yellow and I am going to take it up. I'll just go ahead and Shift+ Up Arrow a couple of times to take it up to 80%.
Notice, now at this point I could take the Yellows up even higher if I want to that is going to favor the skin tones at this point. So the Reds and Yellows are conspiring to make those Oranges skin tones. But I want to go this time. I am going to take it down to 80%. The Greens inside at this particular image, you can just go ahead and drag back and forth and you'll see just about nothing changed. And when I say, Just about, I am not seeing a darn thing change inside this image, not a single pixel. I am going to worry about the Greens value. That's going to depend, of course, on your image if you've got lot of four edges going on. You are going to see a lot of changed when you adjust the Yellows and Greens values as it turn out.
Now, check this out. If I increase the Cyan's value notice what's happening to the image. We are actually bringing out the highlights inside of the iris. So this is the difference between a Cyan's value of -200%. Look at her iris in particular. And this is by comparison a Cyan's value of +300%. So as I raise that value I am favoring those highlights so I am bringing up the highlights inside of the iris. But now I am going to go ahead and increase the Blues value as well. It doesn't have a terrific impact on the image. It's like Greens that it doesn't do ahead of a lot. But I'll go ahead and take it to 60%, and then Magentas in the case of this image. And this is pretty common throughout portrait shots. Magentas is going to give you control over the lips. So if I want to darken the lips I take that value down. If I wanted to brighten the lips I take that value up. I am going to set it to 20% right there.
So we've got 50, 80, 0, 300, 60, and 20. And notice this whole time I haven't managed to clip a single highlight or shadow as witness here inside the Histogram palette. So I am going to go ahead and click OK to accept that modification. And there are a couple of other things that you can do. You can save a Preset if you want to for later; it's up to you if you want to go that out. And you can also Tint the image. You can turned on this Tint check box, and en-view the image with little bit of color. But you are not going to have that kind of selective control that we achieved using that Solid Color Dynamic Field Layer.
So you are just going to Color-Eyes the image across the board, and it's going to like bad. I mean it's a kind of thing that you can achieved using the Hue/Saturation Command with Color-Eyes check box on and other words flew to it frankly. I think this Tint option down here is worth beans, I never use it. So go ahead and click OK. It could be 10 times more powerful; it's not, anyway. And go ahead and click OK to accept that modification. And then just to make my image a little more rich and lively, because that's we've lost a little bit in the way of highlights over here. I am going to double-click on my Contrast adjustment layer and I am going to raise the Contrast inside of the Curves dialog box. I am going to go ahead and raised this three quarter tone of point right there by dragging an upward.
And I could adjust some of these other option here. I could raise the Shadows as well but the more significant of your modifications inside of this dialog box is as well as inside the Black and White dialog box; the more posterization you are going to get inside of you image, meaning you are going to get radical, transitions between your shadows and your mid-tones and your highlights and so on. So you want to take it easy. I'll go ahead and raised the mid-tones a little bit just to brighten things across the board. And I might take this even higher just so that we have some good highlights to work with. And notice that we are still failing to achieved bright white. So I could If I wanted to I can drag this White slider over to the left just a little bit in order to brighten those highlights further. All right, this looks pretty good to me. These are the values that I've assigned. You can see that I've got an output value of 255 and an input of 243 up to you if you want to follow my lead. Go ahead and click OK once you've make the modification that you are looking for. And now let's see how far we've come here. I am going to Shift+Tab away my palettes.
This is the original version of the image that we showed at the outset of this exercise. And this is my modified version. It's a slight alteration as you can see it's pretty subtle. This is before; this is after. But pay attention to those skin tones. You can see that we have brighter skin tones going on. This is before once; this is after. Also we have a brighter background, and we have brighter colors inside of the eyes inside of the irises, and darker colors inside the lips. So once again this is before, so darker eyes, lighter lips. This is after; darker lips, lighter eyes. Up to you but it does give you that, kind of, selective control over very small details inside of your image other things like irises and lips and so on. If you want that kind of control then you've got the Black and White command available here inside Photoshop CS3.
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