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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 exercise we are going to add a bit of colorization to this image in order to create something of a sepia tone. I was telling you a few exercises back inside the same chapter how you can create a professional sepia tone, a professional quality sepia tone by adding a dynamic fill layer, by adding a layer of color, and then using a Density mask to burn in just the shadows, to burn the colors just into the shadows inside the image. That's great for what I will call, legitimate portrait shots.
This is a little more over the top, we have got a radicalized image at this point and so we are going to with a more radicalized colorization option as well, and that's Gradient Map. Now I don't recommend just FYI, I don't recommend you just choose a Hue/Saturation command and turn on the Colorize checkbox. I don't know, if you have seen that option, it's pretty lame though, because it colorizes the entire image with a single color, that's it. Whereas, with Gradient Map, you can pick points of color that match various luminance values inside of your image. So it's a much better technique.
All right, so here I am working inside of an image called Catch up with cool.psd, because it allows you an opportunity to catch up with the cool. The image is found inside, by the way, it's found inside the 13_channel_mix folder. I am going to bring up the Layers palette. I am going to click on the desat layer, so the top layer in the stack here. Then, I am going to press and hold the Alt key as I want to do and click on this Black/White icon and choose Gradient Map right there. We want to assign this function as an adjustment layer so that it affects all the layers below it, but of course.
I will just go ahead and call this layer, Gmap and then I will click OK. Then you get this Gradient Map dialog box here. Now what's happening with Gradient Map, this by contrast Gradient Masks, just in last exercise we used the Gradient tool in order to establish a mask for that deep sky layer right here. This is a Gradient Map which allows us to map the luminance levels inside of the image to a gradient. So black will be mapped to the left side of the gradient and white will be mapped to the right side of the gradient. That means we could choose a different gradient here, this black to white gradient isn't going to do much to the image. We could choose a different gradient such as this, Violet Orange gradient right here. Then the blacks would become violet and the lights, the whites would become orange and everything else in between will map to a different shade inside that gradient.
Well, now none of the gradients had come with Photoshop, that ship along with Photoshop or at least the ones that are loaded by default. They are really not any good for colorizing an image, which is why I have given you eight really sensational, really awesome Gradient Map presets. And to get to them, go ahead and click on this right pointing arrowhead and then choose the Load Gradients command. Navigate your way to the 13_channel_mix folder, as I have done inside the exercise_files folder, you will find a file called The Gmap Eight.grd. Go ahead and load it on up, and you will see this list of additional gradients right there.
If you want to sort of tour them, you can. There is Quadtone Deluxe which gives you a cool gradient and there is this Warm palette gradient right there. Now some of these gradients don't really lend themselves too well to this specific image, but they might work pretty well for your images. For example, this Earthtone reflect gradient right here goes ahead and lights up her nostrils as if she has got tiny green light stuck far inside of her head. So you can experiment with the other ones. Carnival reflect is also a fairly unfortunate where this image is concerned.
The one I want you to use is this final gradient right there and it's called Badtones for these bad desperate people here. They are bad in a good way, but of course, who isn't? All right, so go ahead and click on Badtones and if you want to, you can actually go ahead and edit this gradient by clicking on the gradient bar right here, that will bring up the Gradient Editor. And then you have actually got this kind of Levels control going on where if you drag one of these color stops to the left, you are going to lighten the image and if you drag it over to the right, you are going to darken the image like so. That's going to happen on a stop by stop basis here.
So you can modify the gradient if you want to, to taste. I am going to go ahead and cancel out because I don't want to make any modifications. This gradient is actually set up for this image; it's designed to work with this image. Then go ahead and click OK in order to accept that gradient mapping that we have assigned there. The next step I want you to apply, we are having a bit of posterization going on. If you zoom in on her face you can see that we go from white to the sort of light sort of beigy pixels right there. They quickly go into some purples and some dark browns and so on.
I want to limit this posterization a little bit and I am going to do that by assigning a Blend mode. So I am going to change the Blend mode for this layer from Normal to Color down here, so that we are just really colorizing the image without affecting the brightness values at all. I am also going to assign a Density mask to this image and in fact, the Density mask I want to use is this exact same Density mask I have already assigned to the infrared layer. So let's just go ahead and Alt+Drag or Option+Drag that layer mask up on to the Gmap layer, so that we'll duplicate it. So we are Alt+Dragging on the PC, Option+Dragging on the Mac. Then go ahead and release, and we go ahead and assign this Density mask to this layer.
The last thing of that I want to do where this project is concerned is I want to colorize this guy as well with a complementary colorization. I am going to colorize it green and I am going to show you how to do that, how to establish two opposing colorization schemes in the next exercise.
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