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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, so far we have seen ways that we can mix channels in order to craft perfect black and white images. What if you want to do something a little edgy or a little more extreme? We are going to do some extreme channel mixing over the course of the next few exercises. Now this is not extreme in the sense of, like, extreme sports where you bungee jump, for example, just to see if you can accidentally kill yourself. We are doing some extreme channel mixing here for a real purpose, in order to heighten the impact of our images. So even though we are going in to special effects territory, this is highly practical information, my friends.
All right, so I am working inside of another one of these wonderful images from photographer, Alexander Hafemann, and this time we have got this edgy, young couple of executives that are standing on this roof top. It looks to me and I am just going off of this corner down here but it looks to me like they are in Los Angeles. Just you know I am making that, they could be anywhere and you have also got this woman who is coping this wonderful attitude here. She looks great. Then, of course, you have over here the lead singer too, Depeche Mode. What I love about this guy? He is not really Depeche Mode. He is some model and he has got three piercings in his ear. I just love high resolution photography because you can tell this kind of stuff. You can say yes, he is shaved. There is a little rough on his neck that day and there is the photographer inside of his sunglasses. I just think that's fantastic.
Obviously, he inserted that on purpose because he is front in center inside of this lens and he is nowhere to be found inside that lens. I think that's awesome. That's the back of her head, of course. I love this photo, as I say, but it's a little flabby. Nothing critical here, it's just a little flabby in the color, and contrast, and tone department. I really want to fire up the impact of this photograph. That's something that we are going to do using, as I say, extreme channel mixing. So to get a sense of what's going on here, just so we are going to wander through the steps that we are then going to turn around and perform in the following exercises. I am looking at an image that's called WUL@B.psd, that's found inside of the 13 Channel mix folder. It's another acronym, of course, it stands for What you are Looking at Buddy? That's not what I had in mind originally but that will do for now.
I am going to go ahead and bring up the Layers palette. You can see that there is a ton of layers going on inside of this image and they will stack up to create the high impact, final version of the composition. To get a sense of how these layers work together, let's go ahead and switch to Layer Comps palette. So I am going to bring up the Layer Comps palette right here. You can obviously choose a Layer Comps command from the Window menu, if you like, if you are working along with me, for whatever reason. So now this is the original image, obviously. I added some sharpening to the image so we have a high pass layer with a density mask and so on. Then this is my first extreme channel mixing and it is pretty darn extreme. This is a, sort of a through the roof infrared photography effect and I will show you how that works in the next exercise.
Then I took that extreme channel mixing and I burned it into the shadows in order to get this effect right here. So we are really deepening those shadows without entirely losing them. Notice that we are not clipping our shadows, we are just increasing their contrast. Then we have got another extreme channel mixing which looks pretty hideous, when we look at by itself but then we go ahead and merge that into the highlights. So we are flashing those highlights a little. Once again, we are really not losing much on the way of highlights, we are not clipping highlights, we are just making them really sizzle there.
Then I go ahead and send the entire composition to black and white by lowering the Saturation. I deepen the sky, as you will too, if you follow along with me. We have got some hot gradations going on here in order to add some color values to the image. Then I went ahead and took that down a little bit, I lower the intensity of that color, just to get rid of some of the posturization that we are showing up inside of the shadows there. Then I added this, this is going to seem very weird, but I added this sort of trippy green inversion effect and then I went ahead and merged it into the sky, as you can see right there.
This is the final version of the composition. I will go ahead and Tab away the palettes so we can see it. Actually, I will go ahead and bring back the palettes just for a moment here, so we can switch back to original. So this is the original version of the image, once again, from photographer, Alexander Hafemann. And this is the extreme makeover, our extreme makeover, that we are going to pull off together, if you are so inclined starting in the next exercise.
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