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Alpha channels are collections of luminance data that control the transparency of images, and they influence just about everything in Photoshop. Coming to terms with alpha channels, also known as masks, is a surefire way to maximize results. Omni Award-winning Photoshop expert Deke McClelland leaves no pixel unturned as he explores Refine Edge, Color Range, the Channels palette, the Quick Mask mode, channel masking, blend modes, and more. After watching Photoshop CS3 Channel and Masks: The Essentials, even the most complex techniques will seem like child's play. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts for Channels and Masks from the Exercise Files tab."
This chapter is about a group of tools that aren't really selection or masking tools at all, even though they produce mask like effects. These are the Eraser tools and the Extract command. Permit me to demonstrate using this photorealistic graphic right here. When you select you're masking image, you mark the boundaries along witch you intend to cut the image or lift it away from its background, but you don't actually perform the cut, the image is not harmed in the process and you can add edit the selection or mask as much as you want.
When you erase or extract an image, you not only define the boundery between the foreground and the background, you also erase the background pixels. If you know what the result, you can't edit it, you have to undo and try again. I can't undo this white board pretty get the idea. So why in the world you erase or extract an image when it produces permanent changes, because you can eliminate fringing by leeching the color away from the edge pixels. The process is by no means perfect, but no occasion erase and extract come through with flying colors or more accurately, without them.
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