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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 begin the creation of our color mask and I should tell you that this is going to be the most complicated mask, most intricate mask that we create inside of this chapter. The reason being because of all the hair that we are seeing inside of the blouse region. So that hair is not only very fine as you can see, but it's also translucent in areas. We have these big clumps of translucent hair that are informed by the color of the blouse below. But, as you will see, you will be able to do it. I will show you some concrete techniques here.
I have gone ahead and saved my progress inside this file. It's called Yellow.psd found inside the 12 Specialty folder, if you want to open it up. Now, if you are just joining me, you may notice that what we have here is a Hue/Saturation layer that's called Yellow, and its set in front of the original image which looks like this from photographer Bobby Osborne, and this is the point at which you might say, why are you doing this? Why are you just ruining this image this way? The reason is, because I want to change her blouse from that crimson color to yellow. Now, I don't want to change her flesh tones.
That's why I need a color mask. So here is what I want you to do. Go ahead and turn off the adjustment layer for now because we are going to begin the color mask fittingly enough using the Color Range command, and I want the Color Range command to be able to see the original image. So turn off the adjustment layer, click on the Background layer to make it active. Now, I want to give the Color Range command a little help by identifying the portion of the image that I want to select and I am going to do that using the Lasso tool. So go ahead and press the L key in order to select the Lasso tool, and then I am going to very generally define a selection outline, a polygonal selection outline that encloses her blouse and then some. So her blouse and about 10 to 20 pixels outside of her blouse.
All right. So I am Alt+Clicking or Option+Clicking with the Lasso tool. I am taking care not to select the lips because they are so close in color to the blouse. I am continuing to click down to the bottom, I am clicking across the Scroll Bar of course, and then up through the Pasteboard here. Then, I am going back into the image around the shoulders up and over the hair like so and then, down into the chest region and then I will release the Alt or Option key, and I have now defined a generalized selection in which I want the Color Range command to define its selection.
So now, let's go up to the Select menu and choose Color Range, or you can take advantage of that keyboard shortcut I have given you. The Color Range command will look just inside of the selected region. Now, for me, at any rate, the foreground color is kind of this yellowish color as was picked up when I was working inside the Hue/Saturation dialog box, and nothing inside of this region is all that close to that yellow. So I am not selecting much of anything. Make sure by the way that your Selection Preview is set to None, so that you can see the full color version of the image. I would like you to go ahead and raise the Fuzziness value to 100 before we start here, and then click inside the blouse, and then Shift+Drag inside the blouse in order to add to the selection. I am also going to Shift+Click in this tummy region in order to select that area.
This is pretty good. I might Shift+Click on this little shadow right there. I just want to make sure that every portion of the blouse is selected. I could Shift+Click up in this shadow region, but if I do, I am going to end up selecting too much of her flesh. So I will go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac in order to undo that addition. Actually, I do want to select this area though. I will go ahead and Shift+Drag across it to make sure those little ribbings are selected there. I could as well go ahead and zoom in here a little bit. Now, how in the world do the Fuzziness value get change to 40? Let's go ahead and take that back up to 100.
I am not sure what happened there. I guess by virtue of the fact that I pressed Ctrl+Z, I ended up undoing too much. So I am going to restart my selection basically. It's easy enough to do. I am going to click and then I am going to Shift+Drag across the blouse here. Shift+Click inside of the Selection Preview, inside the dialog box a little bit, just to make sure that I have selected as much of the fabric as I can. The reason I've zoomed in here, and I am going to zoom in just a little bit more by Ctrl+Spacebar+Clicking or Command+Spacebar+Clicking on the Mac, is that I want to make sure that I am selecting the edge of the fabric. The edge between the interior of the fabric and the background. I am going to do that by Shift+Clicking right about there, and then I am going to move my cursor over 1 pixel and Shift+Click again and move over 1 pixel, and Shift+Click again until I have gone too far, and I'd say this is almost too far.
I will go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac. Look, it not only undid the lifting of that color, it undid the Fuzziness value again, darn it. All right. So I will reset my Fuzziness value to 100. Now, you may for the purposes of future steps here, you may want to make sure that your Color Range selection is exactly like my Color Range selection, and if you do want to make sure that you are in sync with me, then go ahead and click on this Load button right there, and inside the 12 Specialty folder, you will find a file called Crimson blouse. axt. Go ahead and click on it and then click the Load button in order to load those settings on up, and you should see a selection preview that looks something like this. Then, click OK in order to accept that selection outline.
Now, I am going to select the yellow layer once again. Turn it on by clicking the Eyeball, and I am going to click on the layer mask icon down here at the bottom of the Layers palette in order to add a layer mask, in order to convert the selection outline to a layer mask. You can see that we are making fewer portions of the image yellow now. I will go ahead and zoom out here, so that you can see the difference. This was before I added the layer mask and this is after I added the layer mask. But, we do need to refine this mask and we are going to begin work on that refinement starting in the next exercise.
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