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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."
All right gang, it's time for some advanced blending inside of Photoshop. I want you to go ahead and open this image right here, it's called Almost blue.psd, and it's found inside of the 10 Advanced Blend folder. This image comes to us just as you see it on screen right now from photographer Kevin Russ of istockphoto.com. And I called the image almost blue, because it is almost blue. Blue strictly speaking has a hue value of 240 degrees. Whereas if you were to poke around inside of this image, you would find that the hue values are predominantly about 220 degrees which is more of a cobalt, so hence almost blue.
Also she is a big Elvis Costello fan. And we are going to turn this image into this one here using a series of advanced blending techniques including, Luminance Blending and Fill Opacity and layer masking, and Smart Filters and lot of other stuff as well. So this project is going to take us through most of the first part of this chapter. And by the end of it, men! Your brain is going to just be swelling with advanced blending techniques I tell you. If you want to check out this image and its' layers, incidentally notice all the layers that are going on inside of this image. Then you can open up the document called Study in blue.psd also found inside the 10 Advanced Blend Folder. And I tell you that not so that you can get ahead of the game here, but just so that you know it's always there in case you need it. If you want to come back to it and sort of check out whether or not, you are following the steps properly or something along those lines. You can confirm your progress against this file.
All right, let's go back to the previous file here, the one that's called Almost blue. And we are going to spent a few minutes here mapping images on to each other using the contrast modes. I want to give you a sense of how you can play with the contrast modes, how you can experiment with them, and how to approach the contrast modes without just feeling like you are throwing blend modes against the canvas willy-nilly. All right, so I have given you a series of layers to work with here. There is Bubbles at the top. This image comes to us from photographer Eucowarda with istockphoto.com all of these photographers are with istockphoto.com incidentally. And then below that we have these Blood Cells from a photographer who goes by the handle Kativ at istockphoto.com. And then we have the Dolomites. We've see that image before, and that of course comes to us from Loic Bernard.
All right, let's start with the Bubbles right here. And I am going to go ahead and click on the Bubbles layer in order to make it active. We are only seeing Bubbles and Background. The other two layers were turned off as you can see by the absence of eyeballs. Now, I am going to press Shift+Alt+O or Shift+Option+O on the Mac. Once again, to select our primary image Mapping Mode, that is we are mapping one image over the contours of another image using the Overlay Mode. And we end up getting this effect here. And I quiet like it actually, because she is wearing these blue goggles and she is set against the blue background. She already has this aquas feeling to her. She looks like she is positively snorkeling, all be without a snorkel of course.
Now, let's try out some of the other modes. If I press Shift+Plus, we'll get Soft Lights. So a little softer, of course. Then we get Hard Light, we are fairly overwhelming the image with Bubbles at this point. Next comes Vivid Light; I love this effect. I know it's a little bit creepy, the way the Bubbles make it look like they are coming out of a flush, like she has some very hideous communicable disease or something along those lines. But I just think it's fantastic that we are able to pull up anything vaguely resembling this just using a blend mode, that's all that's going on. Just to predefine the fact inside Photoshop.
Here is Linear Light, too much obviously, here is Pin Lights still very interesting. We have these shadows that are showing up by themselves, and these highlights that are showing up by themselves. And then all the Midtones of course dropping out of the image. And then we have Hard Mix. And I didn't really expect anything out of it and I didn't get anything out of it either it looks pretty bad. All right, let's just go ahead and turn off the Bubbles layer. Let's try out Blood Cells. Now Blood Cells, ends up giving us some very interesting effects. I'll go ahead and select that layer. And the reason is, the reason we are able to achieve some of the stuff we are about to achieve here is, because we are working with complementary colors. We have an extremely reddish image set against an extremely blue background. So we are dealing with the posing colors of not down right compliments.
I am going to go ahead and turn on Blood Cells once again. Let's try Overlay, Shift+Alt+O or Shift+Option+O on the Mac, fantastic effect right there, really drawing out this beautiful colors, highly saturated colors. We are not really seeing much in the way a blood cell action going on, but that's okay, we are getting a fantastic effect. Here is Soft Light, here is Hard Light too much I think. Here is Vivid Light, again a very cool Vivid Light effect this time around with these wonderful reds inside of Flash, and then these Blues out here inside the goggle region and so on.
And then we've got Linear Light, again too much. We've got Pin Light just a very, very cool sort of sci-fi effect where this image is concerned. We have Hard Mix which actually looks about as good as Hard Mix can possibly look. I am going to go ahead and cycle through a couple of other blend modes as well, because I want to show you Hue in just a moment, not to ruin the surprise but here it comes. This is the difference mode, all right? Pretty interesting, this is exclusion not too much different than difference in this particular case.
And here is Hue. And you can see that it's a Hue Mode appear in a Layers palette. We have just completely changed the color composition of this image using nothing more than a fairly red layer here and the Hue blend mode. And we've completely changed this image from being almost blue in this case to almost red in this case here. So just fantastic. The kinds of effect that you can pull off by mapping one image on to another using blend modes inside the Photoshop. All right, but I am going to settle back on Dolomites. Even though those other two layers are really wonderful. The mountains and clouds are what I want once again for this image composition. So I am going to go ahead and turn on that Dolomites Layer from photographer Loic Bernard. And I want you to apply the Overlay blend mode by pressing Shift+Alt+O here on the PC or Shift+Option+O on the Mac.
Now you can play with the other contrast modes if you want to or any of the other blend modes for that matter. But I want you to settle on the Overlay mode. Now, imagine at this point, here we are looking at Overlay, and it's a little bit tepid. And you may recall from the previous chapter I was telling you what Overlay does, is it applies a half-strength multiply to the shadows, and a half-strength screen mode to the highlights. But what if I really want a full string multiply, and a full-strength screen working together. Well, Photoshop doesn't give me a blend mode that mixes full-strength of those two modes together. There just isn't anything like that. Even things like Vivid Light and Linear Light, they don't do that.
So I am going to have to build my own mode. If I want full on multiply and full on screen, I am going to have to build my own blend mode, and that's what we are going to do in the very next exercise.
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