Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques
Illustration by John Hersey

Fixing edges with the Pen and Stamp tools


Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Fixing edges with the Pen and Stamp tools

Okay, so here we are looking at this very, very bad section of hair, that's in the lower left corner, it's at this juncture. If I were to switch back to the RGB composite image, it's at this juncture between the knuckle, her knuckle for her right hand and the hair details that are set against this light portion of the background below the flame, and it's just a mess. Our mask is a mess, I have to say. At least my mask is a mess, maybe your mask looks great, I doubt it, because we really don't have any good info to work from here.
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  1. 2h 12m
    1. The Odyssey Continues
      2m 39s
    2. Mapping one image onto another
      7m 12s
    3. Making a custom contrast mode
      7m 9s
    4. Luminance blending
      8m 39s
    5. Forcing the visibility of underlying layers
      4m 3s
    6. Adjusting the appearance of clipped layers
      4m 33s
    7. Selecting a Blend If channel
      6m 11s
    8. Enhancing highlights by hiding them
      5m 8s
    9. Smart Object first, layer mask second
      7m 22s
    10. The Fill Opacity Eight
      4m 30s
    11. Blending Smart Filters
      7m 24s
    12. Cleaning up edges
      7m 38s
    13. More fun with luminance blending
      6m 22s
    14. A first peek at the Calculations command
      12m 11s
    15. Masking a softly focused model
      11m 46s
    16. Moving layers and masks between images
      7m 34s
    17. Matching colors
      9m 12s
    18. Building transitional blended layers
      6m 33s
    19. Restoring normal colors
      6m 49s
  2. 2h 32m
    1. Layer masks, clipping masks, and knockouts
      1m 20s
    2. Rotating and stretching
      7m 54s
    3. A jet of motion blur
      9m 17s
    4. Keyboard tricks
      5m 4s
    5. Merging sky and landscape
      6m 2s
    6. Masking an adjustment layer
      6m 37s
    7. Creating two windows into an image
      7m 42s
    8. Whitening teeth and adding other highlights
      3m 46s
    9. Mapping a texture onto an image
      4m 0s
    10. Isolating a texture with a layer mask
      6m 44s
    11. Welcome to the glass composition
      3m 18s
    12. Balancing shadows and highlights
      5m 51s
    13. Masking the glass
      7m 24s
    14. Masking the text
      9m 23s
    15. Adding and blending the goldfish
      8m 44s
    16. Assembling the perfect group photo
      5m 12s
    17. Aligning photographs automatically
      5m 26s
    18. Masking in each person's best shot
      5m 18s
    19. Masking densely packed people
      6m 17s
    20. Crafting the perfect final poster
      5m 15s
    21. From the improbable to the impossible
      1m 56s
    22. The fantastical "world of clones" effect
      10m 0s
    23. Upsampling and blurring a background
      8m 39s
    24. Adding a knockout mask
      8m 3s
    25. Choking edges with Gaussian Blur and Levels
      3m 46s
  3. 2h 26m
    1. The corrective power of masking
      1m 6s
    2. The amazing luminance mask
      7m 21s
    3. Brightening and neutralizing the eyes
      8m 21s
    4. Adjusting a nondestructive composition
      5m 52s
    5. Creating a corrective mask
      6m 3s
    6. Averaging away irregular flesh tones
      3m 52s
    7. Modifying specific colors
      7m 46s
    8. Initiating the color mask
      5m 59s
    9. Refining the color mask
      6m 39s
    10. Adjusting the edges around fabric
      7m 55s
    11. Perfecting hair
      9m 34s
    12. Sharpening with a High Pass layer
      10m 12s
    13. The also-amazing density mask
      4m 47s
    14. Adjusting the knockout depth
      8m 48s
    15. Fashioning a depth map
      6m 12s
    16. Invoking a depth mask from Lens Blur
      6m 38s
    17. The perfect depth-of-field effect
      6m 25s
    18. Sharpening an archival photograph
      7m 7s
    19. Creating an edge mask
      8m 29s
    20. Making a High Pass sandwich
      7m 45s
    21. Applying the edge mask
      6m 1s
    22. Customizing your sharpening effect
      4m 6s
  4. 2h 3m
    1. Channel Mixer, I am your father!
      1m 39s
    2. Three ways to gray
      7m 48s
    3. Meet the Channel Mixer
      8m 26s
    4. Mixing a custom black-and-white image
      7m 9s
    5. Creating a professional-level sepia tone
      5m 36s
    6. Employing the Black & White command
      8m 0s
    7. Extreme channel mixing
      4m 50s
    8. The infrared photography effect
      6m 42s
    9. Taking shadows to the brink of black
      3m 56s
    10. Elevating highlights, leeching saturation
      5m 58s
    11. Deepening a black-and-white sky
      5m 49s
    12. Infusing luminance levels with color
      5m 43s
    13. Creating an opposing colorization scheme
      4m 58s
    14. Bolstering contrast with the Green channel
      5m 37s
    15. A tiny improvement to a terrific technique
      7m 38s
    16. The simple (but wrong) approach to red-eye correction
      6m 39s
    17. Channel-mixing red pupils
      9m 17s
    18. The expert approach to red-eye correction
      5m 20s
    19. Fixing problem coronas (pupil edges)
      8m 8s
    20. Making pupils match
      4m 7s
  5. 2h 33m
    1. Chops are dead; long live maskops
      1m 36s
    2. The Calculations command
      8m 16s
    3. Blue Screen blending
      7m 40s
    4. Refining the Blue Screen mask
      5m 53s
    5. Brushing away color fringing
      7m 24s
    6. Locking the transparency of a layer
      6m 21s
    7. Nondestructive layer painting
      7m 36s
    8. How the Add blend mode works
      8m 40s
    9. How the Subtract blend mode works
      6m 43s
    10. Focus, noise, and other masking challenges
      5m 32s
    11. The Add mode in action
      7m 51s
    12. The Subtract mode in action
      8m 24s
    13. Comparing two channels with Difference
      5m 23s
    14. Enhancing the contrast with Curves
      9m 10s
    15. Gathering details with Apply Image
      9m 43s
    16. Dodge highlights, burn shadows
      6m 6s
    17. Dodge and Burn in action
      8m 24s
    18. Painting in the scalp
      10m 0s
    19. Painting away the face and chin
      4m 52s
    20. Compositing complementary images
      4m 13s
    21. Multiply, Minimum, Blur, and Apply Image
      6m 40s
    22. Crafting the final composition
      7m 7s
  6. 1h 57m
    1. Mark of the Pen tool
      1m 34s
    2. The big paths project overview
      6m 51s
    3. How to make a path
      8m 24s
    4. Corner points and freeform polygons
      8m 6s
    5. Editing paths with the arrow tools
      5m 2s
    6. Adding and deleting endpoints
      5m 14s
    7. Adding and deleting interior points
      6m 6s
    8. Converting a path to a selection
      3m 35s
    9. Converting a path to a mask
      6m 38s
    10. Smooth points and control handles
      8m 57s
    11. Making cusp points
      5m 59s
    12. Combining paths in a vector mask
      7m 54s
    13. Turning a path into a shape layer
      8m 57s
    14. Combining paths to make a layer mask
      7m 52s
    15. Mixing layer and vector masks
      10m 14s
    16. Editing character outlines as paths
      8m 39s
    17. Using the Convert Point tool
      7m 8s
  7. 3h 17m
    1. Where there's a will, there's a way
      1m 18s
    2. Masking natural cast shadows
      4m 9s
    3. Applying the cast show
      4m 2s
    4. Creating a difference mask
      3m 7s
    5. Applying an arbitrary map
      3m 50s
    6. Making the flesh mask
      7m 16s
    7. Roughing in an object mask
      6m 48s
    8. Drawing missing details with the Lasso tool
      4m 7s
    9. Combining flesh and object masks
      3m 52s
    10. Amplifying the cast shadow
      4m 10s
    11. Selectively choking edges
      3m 58s
    12. Power duplication in Photoshop
      7m 8s
    13. Masking blond hair
      5m 48s
    14. Using Levels to mask iterations
      3m 14s
    15. Drawing an iteration boundary
      4m 54s
    16. Merging the best of two Levels iterations
      4m 4s
    17. More fun with Dodge and Burn
      6m 14s
    18. Fixing edges with the Pen and Stamp tools
      7m 28s
    19. Pulling from another file with Apply Image
      4m 52s
    20. Blending clipped layers independently
      5m 42s
    21. Building the flame mask
      9m 21s
    22. Amplifying the flame
      3m 52s
    23. Masking an image against a busy background
      5m 15s
    24. The Freeform and Magnetic Pen tools
      6m 52s
    25. Masking with arbitrary maps
      9m 32s
    26. A more deliberate approach to arb maps
      10m 51s
    27. Combining arb maps with paths
      9m 28s
    28. Masking with the help of the History brush
      11m 38s
    29. Creating a High Pass mask
      7m 24s
    30. Coloring in the outlines
      8m 31s
    31. Mastering Calculations
      7m 28s
    32. Subtracting and merging the beak
      11m 5s
  8. 1h 33m
    1. The meaning of bit depth (and why you care)
      2m 49s
    2. Scanning line art in 8-bit and 16-bit
      5m 8s
    3. Measuring the 16-bit difference
      8m 8s
    4. Correcting 8-bit images in the 16-bit space
      9m 31s
    5. Opening a raw image directly in 16-bit
      6m 12s
    6. Editing in Camera Raw, opening in 16-bit
      8m 21s
    7. 16-Bit/channel vs. 32-bit/channel (HDR)
      8m 17s
    8. Working with auto-bracketed photographs
      5m 6s
    9. Using the Merge to HDR command
      5m 59s
    10. Adjusting the HDR preview
      6m 0s
    11. Building a 32-bit sky mask
      6m 29s
    12. Properly exposing land and sky
      4m 24s
    13. Modifying a layer mask in 32-bit
      4m 56s
    14. Converting to and correcting in 16-bit Lab
      12m 7s
  9. 2h 8m
    1. Photoshop flirts with the third dimension
      1m 13s
    2. The displacement map
      8m 24s
    3. Making custom waves
      7m 14s
    4. Creating a Gaussian distribution
      4m 31s
    5. Using a two-channel displacement map
      6m 27s
    6. Creating a rustic edge effect
      8m 21s
    7. Distorting and shading with a DMap
      6m 33s
    8. Moonlight reflecting off water
      8m 48s
    9. Mapping the reflection onto the water
      7m 3s
    10. Dipping the moon into the water
      6m 18s
    11. Turning flesh into stone
      7m 55s
    12. Wrapping the stone around the face
      7m 27s
    13. Softening a displacement map
      8m 4s
    14. Making a repeating watermark pattern
      9m 21s
    15. 3D embossing with Lighting Effects
      10m 47s
    16. The amazing credit card type effect
      6m 56s
    17. Lightening the credit card letters
      6m 16s
    18. Wrapping the background around the text
      6m 27s
  10. 1m 43s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 43s

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques
20h 48m Advanced Nov 21, 2007

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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."

Topics include:
  • Distorting and shading with a DMap
  • Understanding bits and channels
  • Creating paths with the Pen tool
  • Using blend modes and the Dodge and Burn feature
  • Understanding channel mixing
  • Using layer masks, clipping masks, and knockouts
  • Applying Smart Filters
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

Fixing edges with the Pen and Stamp tools

Okay, so here we are looking at this very, very bad section of hair, that's in the lower left corner, it's at this juncture. If I were to switch back to the RGB composite image, it's at this juncture between the knuckle, her knuckle for her right hand and the hair details that are set against this light portion of the background below the flame, and it's just a mess. Our mask is a mess, I have to say. At least my mask is a mess, maybe your mask looks great, I doubt it, because we really don't have any good info to work from here.

I am still working inside of that same Merged mask combo.tif file that I opened in the previous exercise. So I have made some changes to it using the Dodge and Burn tool, and we are working inside of this channel called iteration merge. You know what; I am going to rename it. I am going to go ahead and call it mask in prog or something like that to indicate that we are working on this channel here. I have worked over my original iteration merge channel. I could recreate it pretty easily though, because I have the pieces right there. So I am not too concerned about that, I am concerned about the state of this information, and as I was saying at the end of the previous exercise, we are going to fix this problem using the Pen tool, and now that we know how to use the Pen tool, thanks to the previous chapter.

Let's put our knowledge in play here. It's not only a useful tool for masking very, very defined edges; it's also pretty good for masking strange edges like this one where we have nothing else to do. We need a nice organic curve at this location. So the Pen tool is probably the best tool for that purpose. I am going to switch back to the RGB image. I am going to switch over to the Paths palette, and I am going to grab my Pen tool from the toolbox and I can get it by pressing the P key as well. Now let's go down to the bottom of the Paths palette here. Let's go ahead and move things up so that we can see this little icon. I am going to go ahead and click on it in order to create a new path and let's call this one, bad hair, or something along those lines, and it is now ready to accept whatever I draw with the Pen tool.

So this is what I am going to do. I am actually going to move the image down a little bit, and I am going to start here, sort of in the midst of the flame there, and I am going to drag in order to create a smooth point, and now I am going to drag here in order to create another smooth point like so, that sort of bows outward. And if I am feeling like that's not really giving me the kind of curvature I want, I can just click in the center. Notice, I've got my little Pen tool with a plus sign next to it. I will click right there in order to establish another point. Now I am pressing the Ctrl key as I drag these things around. Let's go ahead and zoom in so we can see our anchor points and our control handles a little more closely. And I am just going to move these control handles ever so slightly until I feel like I am getting a good curvature, not necessarily trying to trace the exact hair, that's hopeless. I am not going to be able to trace hairs using the Pen tool. I am just trying to make sure I am matching this curvature right here so that it looks natural and organic, and it looks like it's following the curvature that's established by the top of the hair. So our hair looks like it's linked down naturally, so it's curving naturally, and this looks pretty good to me.

Now I am going to Alt+Drag from this point, or Option+Drag from it in order to establish a cusp, and then I am going to Alt+Drag this away or Option+Drag in order to establish another cusp point, and so I have this kind of lozenge shape right here, that I think is going to work out very nicely for us. Having created this path outline, I will go ahead and switch back to my Marquee tool since it's the nice neutral tool. I will convert this path to a selection by Ctrl+Clicking on it or Command+Clicking on the Path Thumbnail here inside the Paths palette.

Let's go back to the Channels palette. Let's switch over to masking progress, and I might want to establish a little bit of feathering right here because it is kind of a soft transition. If we go back to the RGB image, you can see there is some softness going on here. This is another one of those images that I wonder when I look at it. It has somebody been here, somebody do something to this region of the image, in which case, we already have a little fakeness that we are trying to deal with, so we are trying to sort of split the difference between the reality of the original photograph and the fakeness of the modifications that were applied, because this flame has definitely been enhanced.

So it makes me think some of this area has as well. That's fine, that happens, and it's actually pretty good work, but we just need to work around it. And so I am going to go back to masking progress. Let's go ahead and feather this selection a little bit by going up to the Select menu, choosing Modify, choosing Feather. I am going to enter a Feather Radius value of 1.2 pixels that just fills right to me. I can't tell you why I am doing exactly 1.2, that seems like the amount of feathering we need here, and I will click OK. And now background color is white, once again I will press Backspace or Delete in order to fill this region with white. Then, I am going to go down here, I am going to press Ctrl+Shift+I or Command+Shift+I on the Mac in order to reverse the selection, and then I am going to go grab my Lasso tool. I am going to press the Shift and Alt keys or the Shift and Option keys on the Mac, and I am going to drag around this little area right here. Nice, just as that I selected.

Okay, I have a couple of options at this point. I could just fill it with black by pressing Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete, but if I do that, do you see how I am shoving that edge inward a little bit, so I really don't want to do that. Instead what I am going to do is, I am going to try to burn it away. I am going to grab that Burn tool right there and I am going to reduce the size of my cursor, and I am just going to try to burn these details if I can, like so. And it's not turning out too great. So let's go ahead and see if I might be able to just kind of Alt+Drag away some of this stuff up here. That might work better, that would be an Option+Drag by the way on the Mac, and then Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete in order to fill this area with black.

It's okay, not the greatest transition right there actually, this is like one of those things where you might have, if this bothers you, this little weird edge right there, you could grab the Clone Stamp tool, just go and grab that little guy, and Alt+Click at this location, or Option+Click up there, and then move your cursor down, reduce the size of the cursor a little bit, and click, and see how that sort of fix that problem a little bit. And you could do something similar right there if you want it to in order to fix the problem with the finger region, and that works out pretty nicely, except that now I have to come in with the Dodge tool. Once you start doing this kind of work you've got to go back and forth. I went ahead and press the O key a couple of times to switch over to Dodge tool, and I will go ahead and dodge that area away. That looks pretty good.

Now you might look at this and go, well, that's kind of unnaturally rounded at that location, all of a sudden the hair is nice and perfect. I don't think that's going to show up. When we create the final composition, I think this is going to look pretty nice because we do have a little of hair popping out here and there, and what's more important is that we are matching the contour. Notice that this edge loops around in an organic fashion, so this follows the way hair would actually lay. It's going in a fairly sort of, low slope at this location, and then all of a sudden it starts tucking around where it's actually falling against the shoulder. So this looks pretty darn good to me. I think it's going to work out nicely.

In the next exercise, we are going to take this mask, it's no longer masking progress, it is actually the final mask, let's go ahead and rename it. We are going to take this final mask, and we are going to put it in play, we are going to use it to composite this woman against a different background.

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