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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."
This exercise marks the first in a series of exercises in which we are going to explore creative applications for Layer masks inside of Photoshop. This particular project is going to last two exercises. We are going to take this Rusty rivets.psd image that you see before you here, found inside of the 11_layer_masks folder, comes to us from a photographer who calls himself Dr. Fitz with iStockPhoto.com and we are going to map it on to this dude's back right here. The name of this image is some dude's back.psd, comes to us from photographer Silvia Boratti, also with iStockPhoto. com. In case you are wondering what's with given us a photograph of a dude's back, consider if you will, that we have had many photographs of beautiful women in this series, I figure it's time to give back. The up shot is that we are going to map those rusty rivets on to this back in order to create this final effect right here.
So basically the rusty rivets are transformed into armor using the Blend mode and a layer mask inside of Photoshop. Albiet, of course, its sleeveless armor, great for the summer months. Don't you think? Basically, what I am going for is a kind of a heavy metal CD cover. All right, so let's get started here. I want you to switch over to this Rusty rivets.psd file and make sure that the Some dude's back.psd file is opened as well, they are both found as I say inside the 11_layer_masks folder. They both have the exact same pixel measurements. So we can go ahead and duplicate the layer from one image to another. By going up to the Layers palette and choosing the Duplicate Layer command or I will show you a different way to pull that off, just because we have already seen that technique.
I am going to go ahead and expand the Color palette. So I have a little less distance to drag here. I am going to go ahead and drag the layer down to the little Page icon. Press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and release. So you could also just Alt+Drag it down to the Page icon. But the Alt or Option key has to be down when you release. Now you can release Alt or Option, brings up the Duplicate Layer dialog box. Once again, I am going to switch documents from Rusty rivets to Some dude's back and I will go ahead and keep the layer named armor, like so, then I will click OK and now I will switch to that image. Here is the Some dude's back.psd file with the rivets in front of it on an independent layer. You will see that there is a total of four layers now, two of which are hidden. So the armor layer should appear directly in front of the back layer.
Now I want to go ahead and switch the Blend mode and I want to map the rivets, the armor on to the back. So I want to use the Contrast mode and this time around I know exactly which Contrast mode I want to use, Hard Light. So I am going to press Shift+Alt+H or Shift+Option+H on the Mac to get this effect right here and you can see it is already a terrific image mapping effect. Now a couple of problems, a)the armor is covering his arms in an unrealistic fashion, so we are going to have to carve that away using a layer mask. But first, I want to remove the rivets from the black background here and I am going to do that using Luminance Blending.
So double-click on the thumbnail for the armor layer to bring up the Blending Options panel of the Layer Style dialog box. Then go down here to Underlying Layer and move the black triangle over to 7, as where we want it and most of those rivet highlights are going to drop away. This area right here by the way is the guy's neck, so we do want this region of bolts to be visible. Then I am going to Alt+Drag or Option+Drag the right half of this black triangle over to 15.
So we should see 7/15 and then 255 for white because we didn't change it. That gives us a little bit of fuzziness right there, just to retain a few smooth edges. Now click OK in order to accept that result. So that's part one, we have now mapped the rivets on to the back using a combination of a Contrast mode and Luminance Blending. In the next exercise, we will take on the task of layer masking to get the armor off of his arms and shoulders.
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