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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 final exercise of the chapter, we are going to complete the correction of the red eyes inside of this photograph by fixing Max's eyes right here which are the peskier, more troublesome eyes because they have those wicked dark coronas around the pupils. I am still working inside the image called In A Perfect World.psd that I opened in the previous exercise, and I apply the Dummy Layer, you may recalled in order to correct Sam's pupil, so here are his pupils without that Dummy Layer, here are his pupils with the Dummy Layer. I will go ahead and zoom in so you can see that better. This is without and this is with.
So a slight correction but a meaningful correction goes ahead and deepens those pupil so that they better match the environment so that they look more naturalistic. And we are keeping the highlights, so we are not over-correcting, don't you know the pupils are a little lighter than you might expect but they look great. I think, somebody coming to this corrected image would think this is the way it was originally photographed, which is of course the whole idea. All right, let's move over to Max's pupils and you can see they've got those coronas, I will go ahead and zoom in, by which I mean those thick black outlines right there and the pupils look very different from each other; one is nice and round, the other is sort of strangely shaped, which is either a function of the way that the pixels were captured by the camera or possibly Max's iris was actually in flux, during the photograph that might have happened as well.
But anyway we are going to take care of all these problems, we are going to make the eyes look nice and dark, we are going to make those pupils look black, we are going to keep the highlights, we are going to get rid of the coronas, and we are going to make both of the eyes symmetrical so that they look a little more normal. All right, and here is how we are going to do. We are going to start things off by generating our own selection outlines. People, go ahead and grab the Elliptical Marquee tool from the Marquee tool Fly-out menu, zoom in a little more on this left eye, Max's right eye, of course, and I want you to select like so. So the idea is that we are selecting the entire pupil including the corona, with a hard edge selection or at least it is anti-alias but it's not soft.
We are not going to blur it or feather it or anything like that, so you want to make sure to select about as much as you are seeing me select here on screen. If you select too little or too much, the effect isn't going to look right, so you want to make sure that you get that corona as well as the pupil. Now I want you to go down to the bottom of the Layers palette. Press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac and click black white icon and choose the Brightness/Contrast command once again because it too will serve as a Dummy Layer for fixing the pupils here. We will call this layer Max, click OK, don't make any modifications inside the Brightness /Contrast dialog box, just click OK again.
And I want you to change this blend mode here from Normal to Multiply, so that we are burning in the effect. We are using the image to multiply itself essentially, to darken itself, and we get a better looking pupil, I think it actually looks quite a bit better so I completely fixed but it's fixed enough it will look good. The corona however looks terrible. We have made the effect even worse, we have made that edge even darker, we are going to take care of that dark edge by adding a couple of layer effects, by adding an outer glow and an inner glow effect. So I want you to click on the Effects icon and we will start by choosing Inner Glow. So go ahead and choose that command, and that does fix the corona to a certain extent but it does makes it nice and bright and light now, like he has got some sort of sun inside of his eyes.
So let's change that color, also let's change the blend mode, I am going to change the mode from Screen to Normal and then I am going to click on the Color. Now ideally, we could just go ahead and lift the color from the iris, but if I try to click with the eyedropper there I am going to get black. Notice that if I click in his flesh, I get black as well. What's that about it? If I click in the white of his eyes, I get black. The only time I don't get black is if I click inside the dark pupil, in which case, I get white, what kind of wacky upside down world is? Well, we are lifting colors from the layer masks. That's all that Photoshop can see when you are working on an adjustment layer like this, so we can't see the actual composite image, which is a big pain in the neck.
Luckily, I went ahead and researched the color of the irises in advance, and this is what they are, in the case of this image. Now I don't mean to make it sound like this is some kind of magical fix, every value that I enter for every single image you encounter, rather the fact that we are using Outer Glows and Inner Glows to correct the corona, that's the proper approach. So this Dummy Layer combined with Multiply, combined with Outer Glow and Inner Glow to defeat the corona, that's your approach, you can use that in another images as well. The specific values you work with though, you are going to have find those out on your own, you are going to have to experiment.
So I am going to change the Hue value to 110, the Saturation value to 10 so very low, and the Brightness value to 23 which might seem like wow! Is that a specific brightness value? Yes it is, and it happens to work out very nicely for this particular image. All right, I will go ahead and click OK. I am going to take the Opacity value up to 100%. I am going to take the Noise value up to 10%, so that we have a little bit of noise action right there. And I am going to take the Size value up to 6 pixels like so. Now that softens the inner edge of the eye pretty nicely, we need to take care of the outer edge, and I am going to assign an Outer Glow like so, change the blend mode to Normal, we want the same color. So I am going to once again enter 110, 10, and 23, and I will click OK. And an Opacity of 80% works a little better for this outer edge, and then, I am going to take the Size value down to 3.
Now it might be attempting to take it up but if you take it up, you are going to encroach on the eyelashes, and you don't want to do that, so take it down to about 3 and I am going to change the technique from Softer to Precise. So that we are precisely tracing the outline of that pupil. Now if you find that you still have an edge after these values here, so here's the values oops! I want you to take the Noise value up as well. So we want 80, 10, 0, 3, Precise, you got the color, that's a 110, 10, 23. And this is our Inner Glow settings right here. Make sure blend modes are always set to Normal for both of these. We've the Opacity value of 100%, Noise of 10, 0 for Choke, Size 6, Softer is fine here, click OK.
If you are still seeing a weird edge right there is because you didn't draw your selection outline big enough from the first place and it needs to be a little bit bigger is probably might yes. Or might have to be smaller, but you are going to have to fool around with that, so it is important to get that right. Let's go ahead and zoom out a little bit. I have gone ahead and fixed this pupil. It may not look like it's completely 100% fixed, but as soon as we zoom out, you will see it looks great. Now I want you to go ahead and grab this area like this, go ahead and make a big selection around this pupil because we are going to duplicate this pupil selection that you may add, we are going to duplicate it over onto the other pupil, and I am going to do that by Ctrl+Alt dragging or Command+Option dragging the pupil. Notice we get a pupil, we can put it right there in the middle of his head if we want to, if we want a third eye to protect my son.
But I want to move it over here into his other eye like so, and it becomes a bigger pupil, notice that it's more dilated then it was before, but it better matches the other pupil and I think it looks more natural as well. And you may need to sort of dance it around a little bit. I am nudging it by pressing the arrow keys in order to get it into the right place because you want it to look like he is looking at the camera, not sort of, you know, looking off in this space over here. You want those eyes to be following you, across the room like he is Monalisa or something.
So just nudge them and it might help to zoom out a little in order to get the nudge right. But that looks good to me, I might nudge it over just a little bit. Actually, now that looks perfect. Okay and that's it. Isn't that great, doesn't it look good from this distance? It's going to look great in print as well, believe me, even though when you are inspected, you can see that you have been there but when you get far away, it looks like this is exactly the way the image was photographed. So here is the original, I will go ahead and turn-off all those adjustment layers with those wicked red eyes and here's our correction. Thanks to taking the proper manual approach to red eye inside Photoshop.
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