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I've saved the most recent version of my file as Alpha channels abound.psd, again found inside the 26_masking folder. I'm viewing the flesh & dress Alpha channel along with my RGB image. Just in case you are curious what's happening on screen here. All right, let's go back to the RGB composite and I'm going to turn off flesh & dress. That is, I am going to turn off its eyeball. Switch to the Layers panel, turn off the Saturation and Dodged layers, we don't need them anymore. You could throw them away I suppose, but the Dodged layer in particular took a fair amount of work to create, so I say keep it.
Anyway, I am going to switch down to the Background layer, and in order to isolate it, here is two different ways we could work. We could select the image by loading the mask, the final mask channel as a selection outline, and then we could drag the selected image into a new background, but then our ability to edit that image would be fairly limited, because we would only have the pixels we selected in the first place. The better way to work is to go ahead and convert this image to its own independent layer and then assign a layer mask to it based on that final mask channel, and then we'll have the entire unmodified image along with its layer mask giving us all the flexibility in the world.
All right, so to convert this Background image to a layer, we double-click on it. That brings up the New Layer dialog box, and I'll just go ahead and call this one Model, and perhaps I'll give it a capital M, because the other layers have capital letters, click OK. And now go back to the Channels panel and there is a couple of different ways to load a channel as a selection outline. One is to click on it to make it active and then to drop-down to this little icon, that's next door, so we've got these two icons to serve opposite purposes, right? This guy there saves the selection as a channel, this one converts a channel to a selection.
So you can go ahead and click on it, and then you've got a selection outline as we can see if I zoom on out here a little bit. But I prefer to work with that shortcut I've mentioned a few times now, but I am going to mention again, I'll press Ctrl+D, Cmd+D on the Mac to deselect the image, and if you press the Ctrl key or the Cmd key on the Mac and click on a channel, so Ctrl+Click on the PC, Cmd+Click on the Mac, you load it as a selection outline. Now that's not the biggest shortcut on earth, because it's not all that difficult to get down here to this icon. However, what I really like about that shortcut is it works in the Channels panel.
It works in the Paths panel. It works in the Layers panel. So you can convert layers, channels, and paths to selection outlines across the board. Now we've got a selection outline which is every bit as good as the mask, and when I say that, of course, I don't mean the marching ants are particularly useful to us and it's not as editable as an Alpha Channel is. However, it's just as representative of the selection as the final mask is. So a selection outline contains that wealth of information including all these various levels of gray, all that softness is built into it.
All right, I am going to switchover to the Layers panel, and now I'll click on the Model layer to make it active so that we switch back to the RGB image and I'll drop down to the Add layer mask icon and I will click on it, and that goes in and converts the selection outline to a layer mask, and if I Alt+Click on the layer mask or Option+Click on it, I can see it independently of the image, and you'll see it is pixel for pixel identical to that final mask channel we saw just a moment ago. All right, the next step is to go ahead and add this Model layer. I am going to go ahead and click on the Model thumbnail once again, add this layer with its layer mask to a new background, and that background is this one right here.
It's Clouds & blue sky.jpg. It comes to us from Louise of the Fotolia Image Library and you'll find it inside the 26_masking folder. Now it is exactly the same size, these two images have been sized to match each other, so one will register into place with the other. You can perform the standard, if you want to, the standard drag-and-drop. That is you press the Ctrl key or the Cmd key on the Mac to get the Move tool, you drag the image onto the Title tab right there, and then you wait for the image to switchover, move your cursor back into the Image window and Shift+Drop it into place, which is a lot of work come to think of it.
Here is another way to accomplish the exact same thing. Go ahead and press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and then I want you to drag the Model layer down onto this little Page icon at the bottom of the panel, and because you have the Alt or Option key down, you force the display of this dialog box which allows you to duplicate the layer either inside of the same composition or in another open composition. So if you go ahead and change document from Alpha channels abound.psd to Clouds and blue sky.jpg, then you will put the model and its mask, because they are linked together, into the other image window.
All right, I will click OK and it will seem as if nothing happened. Well, that's because Photoshop doesn't automatically switch you over to the other image. It just does what you asked it to do. If I now press Ctrl+Tab or Cmd+ Tilde to switch to the other image then I will see the model in place as you do as well. All right, so, we have now managed to mask the image and we've composited it against a different background. However, does it look right? The answer is, well it looks pretty good actually. I don't think it looks horrible, but it does have a few problems here and there.
Notice that we have some grays surrounding these hair details, and that gray fringing is even more noticeable in the upper left-hand corner where the small hairs are concerned, and I will show you how to absolutely make this hair look like its endemic to this image, like it absolutely belongs, in the next exercise.
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