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Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals is the introductory installment of Deke McClelland's four-part series on making photorealistic compositions in Photoshop. The course shows how to make selections, refine the selections with masks, and then combine them in new ways, using layer effects, blend modes, and other techniques to create a single seamless piece of artwork. Deke introduces the Channels panel and the alpha channel, the key to masking and transparency in Photoshop; reviews the selection tools, including the Color Range tool , Quick Mask mode, and the Refine Edge command; and shows how to blend masked images so they interact naturally.
Now that we've established a basic selection using the Color Range Command, we're going to cleanup that selection in the Quick Mask mode. I'm still working away inside Reef sharks.jpg found inside the 06_color_range folder. If you need to gain access to the selection, just use the Color Range command and load that shark settings file, and you'll get the exact same selection you see me working on in the video. To enter the Quick Mask mode, you click on the final icon at the bottom of the toolbox. That takes you in, that very same icon takes you out. Notice when you enter the Quick Mask mode, which I can also do by pressing the Q key, Photoshop goes ahead and converts the selection to that Rubylith overlay, that I showed you back in Chapter 3, and then when you exit the mode, whatever changes you've made are converted back into a standard selection outline.
And once again, you press the Q key to go in or out of the mode. All right, I'm going to reenter the mode, so I can show you that here inside the Channels panel, Photoshop is actually gone ahead and created a temporary alpha channel at the bottom of the list. Notice, if you press the Q key again to exit the mode that temporary alpha channel disappears. Now the reason I've mentioned this, I'll go ahead and press Q again to enter the mode, is because if you want to keep this mask you can. Just go ahead and drag it and drop it onto the little page icon at the bottom of the panel and it becomes a permanent alpha channel in the image, which is stored assuming that you save the image to either the Tiff or native PSD format.
Now in our case so we do not need this alpha channel, because we are going to be converting the result of our work to a layer mask. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Z, or Command+Z on the Mac. Now all the rules that apply to Rubylith editing, apply here inside the Quick Mask mode. So if I were to select say the Brush tool and I were to paint with black, which happens to be my foreground color right now, then I would paint in Rubylith overlay. If I were to press the X key to switch the foreground color to white and then paint, I would paint in transparency.
So as always, you are masking the image away with black and you're painting in selection with white. Now, I don't happen to want to paint either of those two lines, I'll press Ctrl+Alt+C couple times in a row, that would be Command+Option+Z a couple of times on the Mac. Instead what I want to do, is I want to hide the image. The thing is this Rubylith overlay is great if you're trying to paint a mask from scratch, for example, and you need to be able to see the image in the background, but in our case we already know that we got the basic outline right, we need to work on the problems, so we need to be able to see those problems, which means, we don't want to see the image.
So, you can turn the image off by clicking the eye in front of RGB, here inside the Channels panel, or you can take advantage of that keyboard trick I was telling you, again back in Chapter 3, which is to press the tilde key to bring the image back or press tilde again, to make the image go away. All right, Now we can see what kind of problems we have, and I want to clean up some of this gunk down here that's close to the tailfin before I start painting inside of the image, and I'm going to do that using the Levels command, by going up to the Image menu, choosing Adjustments and then choosing Levels, or you can press Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac.
Now we can get rid of a lot of that garbage there by cranking this black point value up like crazy, but the higher you take that value, the more likely you're to get jagged edges around your image and you don't want that. So let's take it easy. I'm just going to take that black point value up to 25. That's it. That will help eliminate some of this gray junk between these two sharks, and then I'll click OK. All right, Now what we want to do is we want to paint with the Brush tool. However, you don't want to just set in painting with a fuzzy brush because if you do that and you start getting close to the shark that we want to keep you'll paint in fuzziness from the edge of that brush.
So if you did what I did, press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac, right-click inside the image and go ahead and crank that hardest value up all the way to 100% and from here we'll just vary the size value on the fly. I'll go and press the Enter or the Return key on the Mac a couple of times in order to hide that panel. And then I'm going to crank up the size of my brush by pressing the right bracket key ] and I'm going to paint some of this junk away. You want to take care that you don't paint into the big shark of course, so steer clear of it. And I recommend, by the way, that you don't try to paint huge areas of the image at a time, because if you do one of these things where you accidentally slip with a mouse, or you just get too close, then you've got to undo that whole thing and start over.
So small brush strokes are generally a good idea. All right. Now, we've got this problem up here near the snout. I'm going to go ahead and zoom in a little more there. Notice, we need to paint that away of course. So I'll press the left bracket key a few times in order to reduce the size of my brush and just click like so, that should take care of it. ahead and paint inside the shark. Now here I need to be careful. I'm just going to click a few times like so, near the edge, but not right against it.
Until I get right there, I am going to have the paint against the edge at this point. So I'll go ahead and click to set the edge. Click here as well, maybe click my way down a few times like so, maybe that should be inside the selection, and of course, I can bring back the shark and look at it to make sure if I want to, and it looks like that was a good edit, so that's fine. And then I'll go and turn the shark off because I don't want to see it. I'll press the X key in order to switch foreground color back to black and paint that little thing away. Now if you want to test the quality of your mask at any point in time, then you can do so using the Magic Wand tool.
This is a really great use for the tool. Go ahead and select it, and then change the Tolerance value to 0. This is very important. We just want to select black and turn off Anti-alias, that thing has to be off. Leave Contiguous on, that's fine and Sample All layers doesn't matter, because we are working in a mask. I'll go ahead and click now in that black background. Everything that lights up is the selection outline is a problem that we need to get rid of, and here is the best way to do it. Switch now to the Rectangular Marquee tool and then go ahead and Shift+Drag around those areas like so, and that will add them to the selection.
So just look for them, look for anything that's blinking here, and go ahead and Shift+Drag. Be sure to press that Shift key, because otherwise you'll deselect the image. And I'm just going to float through the image and see what I got here. Don't really have to be zoomed in to 200 %, so I'm going to take it out a little bit and Shift+Drag around this region. You do want to be zoomed into 100% though, because otherwise you won't see some of the selections. All right. This area obviously needs to be added to the selection, so does this, and otherwise, I think we've done a pretty good job, except for right there at the nose, looks like we're going to need a little bit of extra work there.
So I'll zoom-in, Shift+Drag very close to the nose, but take it over a little. So I'm using the spacebar to nudge it over, and then I'll Shift+Drag around here as well and that takes care of it, it looks like to me. We'll, go ahead and center my image by pressing Ctrl+0, Command+0 on the Mac and now to make the entire background black, what you do is make sure that your foreground color is black, and then you press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete. It won't necessarily look like you've done anything, but we just took those aberrant pixels there that we added to the selection and turned them black.
Now press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to deselect the image and if you want to confirm that you did it, then you can go ahead and click inside that background again with the Magic Wand and you shouldn't see anything lined up this time around. All right. Now I'll press Ctrl+D again, Command+D on the Mac. We have managed to do an impeccable job of selecting the shark. All we have to do now is convert this Quick Mask back to the selection outline and that couldn't be much easier. We just have to press the Q key and the deed is done. And that my friends, is how you clean up a selection outline using the Quick Mask mode here inside Photoshop.
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