Start learning with our library of video tutorials taught by experts. Get started

Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
Watching:

Making an alpha channel


From:

Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery

with Deke McClelland

Video: Making an alpha channel

In this exercise, I am going to show you how to make a base Alpha Channel here inside Photoshop. I'm working aside Hair in flight.tif found inside the 26_masking folder. When you're masking inside of Photoshop most of your activity happens inside the Channels panel. So, I'd like you to go ahead and switch over to that panel. The reason is because that's where you create your Alpha Channel in the first place. That's where you go ahead and develop the Alpha channel, exaggerate the contrast, finesse the details and ultimately store your mask for later use. Now, the other two panels that become helpful to you are the Layers panel and that's useful when you're applying and modifying layer masks.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 40m 45s
    1. Welcome
      2m 45s
    2. Making Photoshop your default image editor
      7m 43s
    3. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      8m 10s
    4. Remapping OS shortcuts
      7m 37s
    5. Installing the Best Workflow color settings
      4m 31s
    6. The color settings explained
      6m 54s
    7. Loading the CS5 color settings in Bridge
      3m 5s
  2. 1h 11m
    1. Your creative range continues to expand
      1m 46s
    2. The Avatar project so far
      2m 38s
    3. Painting on a photograph
      7m 50s
    4. Adding texture and depth
      6m 14s
    5. Simulating chalky white paint
      7m 23s
    6. Masking and placing an image
      7m 20s
    7. Upsampling and Lens Blur
      5m 9s
    8. Blending blurry elements
      3m 48s
    9. Making a Smart Object
      6m 46s
    10. Placing an image as a Smart Object
      3m 22s
    11. Blending away a background
      5m 56s
    12. Applying Smart Filters
      4m 34s
    13. Creating a glow with Lens Flare
      3m 45s
    14. Blending and masking a glow
      5m 3s
  3. 1h 26m
    1. Using the image to select itself
      1m 53s
    2. Introducing masking
      6m 32s
    3. Making an alpha channel
      6m 54s
    4. Using the Calculations command
      6m 48s
    5. Add, Subtract, Offset, and Scale
      5m 54s
    6. Prepping an image with the Dodge tool
      6m 55s
    7. Fixing mistakes before they get too big
      6m 32s
    8. Painting in the Overlay mode
      5m 51s
    9. Exaggerating and selecting flesh tones
      7m 39s
    10. Smudge, Median, and the Blur tool
      6m 59s
    11. Masking low-contrast details
      6m 7s
    12. Creating a flesh-and-clothing mask
      5m 45s
    13. Masking and compositing the foreground
      5m 27s
    14. Finessing the final composition
      7m 39s
  4. 2h 24m
    1. Connecting the dots
      1m 40s
    2. The Pen tool and the Paths panel
      6m 32s
    3. Drawing a straight-sided outline
      6m 25s
    4. Editing a path outline
      6m 36s
    5. Adding and editing smooth points
      5m 35s
    6. Creating vector masks with the shape tools
      4m 59s
    7. Building a complex outline from shapes
      4m 26s
    8. Subtracting and transforming shapes
      6m 45s
    9. Cloning, flipping, and combining shapes
      8m 58s
    10. Roughing in non-symmetrical paths
      7m 41s
    11. Finessing a complex outline
      9m 15s
    12. Masking a layer effect
      8m 26s
    13. Isolating an image element
      6m 8s
    14. Smooth points and control handles
      9m 3s
    15. Stretching curved segments
      7m 49s
    16. Using the Rubber Band option
      9m 33s
    17. Drawing smooth points with the Pen tool
      6m 59s
    18. Shading an isolated object
      3m 45s
    19. Drawing cusp points
      7m 14s
    20. Setting points in the pasteboard
      9m 57s
    21. Using the Convert Point tool
      6m 42s
  5. 2h 57m
    1. Everything you need to know about blending
      1m 45s
    2. Photoshop CS5's blend modes
      7m 21s
    3. Cycling between blend modes
      6m 15s
    4. Darken and Lighten and their derivatives
      6m 3s
    5. The blend mode shortcuts
      8m 6s
    6. The Multiply and Burn modes
      4m 28s
    7. The Screen and Dodge modes
      6m 0s
    8. How opposite blend modes work
      8m 24s
    9. Why Multiply darkens and Divide lightens
      5m 23s
    10. Cleaning up a client's bad art
      5m 3s
    11. Dropping out a white background
      5m 56s
    12. Blending inside blend modes
      8m 3s
    13. Overlay, Soft Light, and Hard Light
      6m 26s
    14. Vivid, Linear, and Pin Light (and Hard Mix)
      6m 35s
    15. Difference, Exclusion, Subtract, and Divide
      7m 34s
    16. Great uses for the Difference mode
      6m 18s
    17. Promising uses for the Divide mode
      9m 6s
    18. Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity
      7m 0s
    19. Blending an inverted layer
      3m 32s
    20. The "Fill Opacity Eight"
      7m 25s
    21. Making bad blend modes good
      5m 16s
    22. Making a knockout layer
      6m 53s
    23. Blending in the CMYK mode
      8m 3s
    24. Overprinting black text
      8m 29s
    25. Using the Luminance slider
      5m 24s
    26. Parametric luminance masking
      6m 21s
    27. Adjusting the behavior of luminance effects
      10m 8s
  6. 2h 2m
    1. Smart Objects = protective containers
      1m 35s
    2. Placing an Illustrator graphic
      6m 30s
    3. Vector copy and paste options
      6m 56s
    4. Applying Puppet Warp to vectors
      8m 9s
    5. "Gluing" vector art for Puppet Warp
      5m 50s
    6. Warping art onto the surface of an image
      8m 7s
    7. Blending a Smart Object
      4m 30s
    8. Blurring and blending a Smart Object
      6m 8s
    9. Making changes in Illustrator
      5m 57s
    10. Creating "true clones"
      7m 18s
    11. Double-flipping text
      4m 44s
    12. Applying effects to multiple layers
      3m 24s
    13. Updating true clones in one operation
      7m 36s
    14. Editing JPEGs as Camera Raw objects
      5m 49s
    15. Creating a double-exposure effect
      7m 15s
    16. Masking and shading transitions
      7m 47s
    17. Applying and repeating Camera Raw edits
      6m 9s
    18. Copying vs. cloning a Smart Object
      5m 18s
    19. Flipping a Smart Object and its mask
      3m 42s
    20. Adjusting multiple Camera Raw clones
      3m 53s
    21. Text that inverts everything behind it
      5m 34s
  7. 1h 59m
    1. This time, "smart" means dynamic
      1m 37s
    2. Introducing Smart Filters
      6m 28s
    3. Traditional High Pass sharpening
      5m 17s
    4. Smart High Pass in the Lab mode
      7m 57s
    5. Sharpening a high-frequency image
      7m 46s
    6. Retroactively reducing noise
      7m 31s
    7. Which filters are Smart Filters?
      6m 20s
    8. Shadows/Highlights as a Smart Filter
      4m 37s
    9. Nesting one Smart Object inside another
      7m 11s
    10. Drawing a mask from a nested Smart Object
      8m 7s
    11. Better Shadows/Highlights inside Lab
      9m 16s
    12. Tempering saturation values in Lab
      7m 0s
    13. Filtering live, editable text
      9m 2s
    14. Enhancing filters with layer effects
      4m 33s
    15. Applying a filter multiple times
      5m 0s
    16. Creating a synthetic star field
      7m 7s
    17. Making a stucco or drywall pattern
      6m 28s
    18. Land, sea, and clouds
      8m 30s
  8. 2h 50m
    1. Photoshop's advanced painting tools
      2m 3s
    2. Canvas texture and brush libraries
      6m 40s
    3. Painting with a predefined custom brush
      9m 21s
    4. Dissecting a custom brush
      11m 9s
    5. Designing and using a custom brush
      4m 54s
    6. Saving and loading brush presets
      5m 27s
    7. The ten styles of bristle brushes
      9m 47s
    8. Size, Spacing, and Angle
      7m 2s
    9. Using the Bristle Brush preview
      7m 53s
    10. Bristles, Length, Thickness, and Stiffness
      6m 53s
    11. Stylus tilt and mouse behavior
      5m 25s
    12. Stroking a path outline with a brush
      4m 0s
    13. Troubleshooting a stylus
      5m 49s
    14. Introducing the Mixer Brush
      7m 22s
    15. The Load, Mix, and Wet values
      5m 1s
    16. Cleaning and loading a brush
      6m 26s
    17. Shading a piece of graphic art
      6m 34s
    18. Shading with color
      7m 53s
    19. Mixing a photographic portrait
      6m 11s
    20. Tracing the fine details in an image
      5m 52s
    21. Crosshatching and brush size
      5m 53s
    22. Covering up and augmenting details
      7m 36s
    23. Painting in hair and fabric
      5m 54s
    24. Painting and scaling very fine hairs
      8m 7s
    25. Adding texture with the Emboss filter
      8m 31s
    26. Exploiting a "happy accident"
      2m 46s
  9. 1h 40m
    1. Artificial intelligence that works
      1m 22s
    2. The Auto-Align Layers command
      7m 25s
    3. The Auto-Blend Layers command
      3m 54s
    4. Masking auto-aligned layers
      4m 50s
    5. The Geometric Distortion setting
      6m 44s
    6. The Seamless Tones and Colors checkbox
      4m 8s
    7. Creating the best possible layer mask
      9m 18s
    8. Auto-blending depths of field
      5m 54s
    9. Finessing masks, accepting imperfections
      6m 29s
    10. Shooting and downsampling panorama images
      5m 54s
    11. Introducing the Photomerge command
      6m 40s
    12. Evaluating the Layout settings
      6m 47s
    13. Loading, aligning, and blending with Photomerge
      5m 36s
    14. Tracing and extracting seams
      7m 18s
    15. Adding a masked element into a panorama
      5m 55s
    16. Simplifying and correcting a panorama
      5m 58s
    17. Smart Filters and nondestructive cropping
      6m 43s
  10. 1h 18m
    1. The most mysterious of mysterious topics
      2m 29s
    2. Introducing HDR Toning
      6m 43s
    3. Reigning in clipped highlights
      5m 54s
    4. The Local Adaptation options
      9m 5s
    5. Nondestructive editing with HDR Toning
      8m 22s
    6. Using the HDR Toning Curve
      7m 2s
    7. HDR Toning vs. Shadows/Highlights
      6m 0s
    8. Merging multiple exposures
      7m 14s
    9. A first look at HDR Pro
      6m 24s
    10. Removing ghosts, correcting backlighting
      7m 11s
    11. Generating and editing an HDR comp
      7m 0s
    12. HDR rendered to completion
      5m 19s
  11. 1h 27m
    1. Processing hundreds of files in no time
      1m 43s
    2. Creating an action set
      6m 37s
    3. Making an action
      7m 7s
    4. Stop, Delete, and Record
      7m 12s
    5. Add, Undo, and Rerecord
      6m 40s
    6. Playing and testing an action
      6m 31s
    7. Playing and editing a specific operation
      6m 39s
    8. Permitting the user to change settings
      4m 58s
    9. Explaining an action with a custom stop
      5m 0s
    10. Batch-processing multiple images
      7m 22s
    11. Adding a Save As operation
      6m 34s
    12. Creating an action to save web graphics
      7m 59s
    13. Batching two actions into one
      7m 15s
    14. Saving and loading actions
      5m 30s
  12. 1m 19s
    1. See ya
      1m 19s

Watch this entire course now—plus get access to every course in the library. Each course includes high-quality videos taught by expert instructors.

Become a member
Please wait...
Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
20h 1m Advanced Sep 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In the all-new Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final installment of the popular series, join industry expert and award-winning author Deke McClelland for an in-depth tour of the most powerful and empowering features of Photoshop CS5. Discover the vast possibilities of traditional tools, such as masking and blend modes, and then delve into Smart Objects, Photomerge, as well as the new Puppet Warp, Mixer Brush, and HDR features. Exercise files accompany the course.

Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.

Topics include:
  • Using masks and blend modes in radically new ways
  • Mastering the Pen tool and Paths panel
  • Transforming and maximizing Smart Objects
  • Employing Smart Filters to create complex effects
  • Exploring the capabilities of Bristle brushes and the Mixer Brush
  • Merging multiple images into seamless panoramas
  • Exploring the full range of luminance with HDR Pro
  • Recording actions and batching-processing images
Subjects:
Design Photography
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Deke McClelland

Making an alpha channel

In this exercise, I am going to show you how to make a base Alpha Channel here inside Photoshop. I'm working aside Hair in flight.tif found inside the 26_masking folder. When you're masking inside of Photoshop most of your activity happens inside the Channels panel. So, I'd like you to go ahead and switch over to that panel. The reason is because that's where you create your Alpha Channel in the first place. That's where you go ahead and develop the Alpha channel, exaggerate the contrast, finesse the details and ultimately store your mask for later use. Now, the other two panels that become helpful to you are the Layers panel and that's useful when you're applying and modifying layer masks.

Then, you might go ahead and finesse your layer mask from the Masks panel as well, but 90% of the activity happens right here. Now, we're working inside of an RGB image, notice that, which means that we are going to have to build our mask from the existing information in the Red, Green and Blue channels, because as I was saying masking is the art of using the image to select itself. Now, a question that I frequently get is, Hey! What if I am working with a CMYK image? Can you mask as effectively from a CMYK image as you can from RGB? The answer is no, you can't, and there are two reasons for that.

First of all, the transitions inside of a CMYK image are a lot choppier, and then secondly you have problems with your shadow details. Because when Photoshop converts from RGB to CMYK it has to offload a bunch of the shadow detail inside the Cyan, Magenta and Yellow channels off to the Black channel. The Black channel is virtually useless to us for masking purposes and the Cyan, Magenta and Yellow channels are effectively ruined because they have been robbed of the shadow information.

So, what do you do if you're working with a CMYK image? Well, you go up to the Image menu and you choose the Duplicate command to create a copy of that image. Then, you turn around and take that copy, choose Mode and then choose RGB Color to convert it to an RGB image. You then create your mask inside the RGB version of the image and transfer it over to the final CMYK image. All right, but we are working inside RGB, so we don't have to take those steps. What we need to do is evaluate the information that already exists inside the image. Now bear in mind, this is the effect we are going for.

So, this is one of our two Alpha channels inside the image. When you think Alpha channels just bear in mind these are not color-bearing channels, they are extra channels inside the image. So you can modify them without harming the image itself. All right, but the image doesn't magically contain one of these things. we have to make it. What the image contains is the Red, Green, and Blue channels. So, let's checkout what we got. We have this Red channel right there and notice we have the keyboard shortcuts as well, which I am going to be using just so that I can keep my cursor out here in the Image window, and they are Ctrl+3 or Cmd+3 on the Mac for the Red channel, Ctrl+4 or Cmd+4 for the Green channel and Ctrl+5 or Cmd+5 for the Blue channel.

So, here we are looking at the Red channel. We've got some dark hair against a fairly light background. We have some very light skin going on, on the left arm but not so much on the right arm. Sort of murky shadows back there in the right side and then of course the dress is alternately lighter or darker than its background, big mess. Anyway, Ctrl+4 or Cmd+ 4 for the Green channel. The hair brightens up slightly so does the background. The arm gets a little bit darker. Then, finally Ctrl+5 or Cmd+5, the hair lightens up even more so does the background, the arm grows darker.

So, we are losing contrast as we go through these channels. We have the most contrast there in the Red channel, a little bit less inside the Green channel and less still inside of the Blue channel. Now, when you're working with portrait shots, I'll just say the Red channel is going to be where the skin tones reside. That's where you see the brightest skin tones. Then things are going to grow darker inside the Green channel. But, often times you are going to have better detail inside the Green channel. You never know. Then finally once you get to the Blue channel, that's where you are going to start losing the brightness in the skin tones, that's where you are going to start losing the detail as well.

All right, so in our case let's say we look at one of these channels and we like one of them. We think one of then might work for us pretty well as a base for a mask. So, I might look at the Red channel and say okay, that where I have the most contrast. It's not an awful lot of contrast but it's better than the other channels. So, I'll start by modifying the contents of this channel. Well, obviously you don't start changing this channel right out of the gate. For example, I'd say you know her hair is dark and the background is light. I want it to be the other way around. I want to select that hair and have the background be dark.

So, I'll press Ctrl+I or Cmd+I on the Mac in order to invert this channel. But of course, if I do that, why then I have pretty thoroughly messed up that full-color image. All right, so I don't want to do that, I'll go back to Red. The nice thing about inverting an image is that you can undo it just by pressing Ctrl+I or Cmd+I on the Mac once again, because every single luminance level has an exact opposite, inverting is a nondestructive operation. Anyway, I am going to grab that Red channel and I'm going to drag it down onto this little Page icon at the bottom of the Channels panel in order to make a Duplicate of it.

Now, I have an Alpha channel, that's all it takes to make one. I'll go ahead and name this guy, based on red, just so that we know where it came from. All right, and I still need to perform that first up of inverting because after all once again, bear in mind, I'll go back to tougher mask for a moment. That white represents the selected area, black represents the deselected area. You might also think of this channel in terms of a layer mask where white would represent opacity and black would represent transparency. And of course, there's that old adage that white reveals and black conceals.

So, we need her to be light against the dark background. I would indeed press Ctrl+I or Cmd+I on the Mac to invert the image. Right away, you see that we've got some problems here. It's even more obvious how little contrast we have to work with. There is just a little bit of a dark corona around the hair on the left-hand side of the image and it fades. Notice, that toward the far left side we are starting to lose that hair detail and then over on the right -hand side, oh, my gosh! We've got so little contrast to work with. Now, we can punch up that contrast using something like the Levels command.

But, were we to do that, I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+L or Cmd+L on the Mac to bring up Levels. I'll drag this black point quite a good distance over here to the right-hand side so that we have a moderate amount of contrast. I'll go ahead and set it to 190, between the dark background and the somewhat light hairs. But, notice what a number that does on the left-hand side of the image. We are losing hairs like crazy. So, this probably isn't the best way to work, I am going to go ahead and Cancel out.

Rather than creating an Alpha channel based on the contents of a single color-bearing channel, we are better off merging a couple of channels in order to exploit what differences we can inside the image and you do that using the Calculations command under the Image menu. I'll show you how that guy works in the next exercise.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery.


Expand all | Collapse all
Please wait...
Q: The instructions for installing the dekeKeys don't work on my computer (which is running Mac OS X Lion). Is there an update to these?
A: The dekeKeys distributed with this course will still work for Lion. You just need to add them to a slightly different folder than in previous versions of OS X.

Open a new Finder window and choose Go > Go to Folder. Type the following file path exactly as written below. Copying and pasting may result in an error.

~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Presets/Keyboard Shortcuts

Move and/or copy/paste the dekeKeys to this folder and follow the rest of the instructions as outlined in the video, "Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts."
Share a link to this course
Please wait... Please wait...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.
Upgrade now


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

join now

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Welcome to the redesigned course page.

We’ve moved some things around, and now you can



Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked