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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 kids, here we are. Here is the version of the image so far, almost complete and it's called Retouched edges.psd. It's found inside the 10 Advanced Blend folder and then there is just one more thing we need to do. Notice here is the final Version of the composition, it's called Study in blue.psd and what's the big difference. She is got capillaries running through her flesh. Very important I think that we add those capillaries and you can see the capillaries actually extending to her goggles. Her goggles are living organic things. That's the kind of composition I am interested in.
Now let's talking to couple of guys around here at the studios and they disagreed with adding the capillaries. They are like I think you are done at this point before you add the capillaries. If you feel that way by all means, don't participate my manners. But I am going to add the capillaries and the reason why is because it's another application of lightning inside of Photoshop. So I am going to take this lightning image right here and turn it in to the capillaries. Are you with me? If so, here we go. With the lightning image open, go ahead and open it. It's called Lightning.jpg. It's found inside the 10 Advanced Blend folder. Go ahead and press Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C or Command+A, Command+C on the Mac in order to copy it to the clipboard.
Then let's go back to our work-in- progress here. As I said, it's called Retouched edge.psd if you are just joining me. Of course, it's found inside the 10 Advanced Blend folder and then I wants you to press Ctrl+V or Command+V on the Mac in order to paste in that lightning and you can see that the lightning gets centered inside of the image because the lightning is the same physical size as our composition. Basically every image we have been working in so far inside of this chapter has subscribed to the same dimensions, the same pixel dimensions. So I am going to bring back my Layers palette. It seems that I went ahead and pasted my layer in back of the shading layer, which is actually okay. That's not going to make any difference for us. But you may not see the shading. You may see the lightning in front of the shading layer, so either way.
Let's go ahead and rename this layer capillaries because it's not lightning it's going to be capillaries in our case and then I am going to after I get done renaming the layer, I am going to press Ctrl+I or Command+I on the Mac in order to invert the lightning. So, that we get this effect right here. Next, I am going to set the lightning to the Screen Mode by pressing Shift+Alt+S or Shift+Option+S on the Mac so that we get this effect. Now of course, this is way too much in the way of capillaries here. We need a little bit subtlety at this point, don't you know I am well known for subtlety. So let's invoke it by double clicking on the capillaries thumbnail right there and we are going to change our Luminance Blending settings down here at the bottom of the dialog box.
The first thing that I want to do is drop out some of this layer by Alt+Dragging or Option+Dragging the right half of that black triangle over to the right until we have values of zero and 30 for the left and right halves of the black triangle. So that's all what you need to do there, very subtle modification at this point. Now let's make a bigger modification to Underlying layer. I want you to take its black slider, the entire thing over to a 125 and then I wants you Alt+Dragging or Option+Dragging the right half of the black triangle all the way over to 255, so all the way over to right hand side. So it tucks underneath the white triangle like so.
Now if you ever do that then you go, gosh, how do I get to in the future. What if I want to you know move it to a different location? Then you would either go ahead and just drag in which case, you know there is a chance that you might end up getting the black triangle, the hidden right half of the black triangle or you just go ahead and drag the white triangle out of the way and then drag the black triangle into whatever position you want. That's always accessible, in other words, one way or other. All right, I am going to go ahead and put that back. So here is what we have. This layer set to 0/30, then 255 for white because we are not changing the white values. Underlying layer set to 125/255 and again, 255 for white as well and that's all there is to it.
Now I am going to click OK in order to accept that change and this is the final version of the image folks, complete with capillaries. So it's look like she has like very thin fragile skin across her face. I do want to make one more adjustment. Notice that if we zoom in here little bit you can see how the capillaries sort of pokes in to the right side of her nose. I don't actually like that very much. So I am going to scoot the layer over a little bit. So I am going to press Ctrl+Shift+Right Arrow, that's Command+Shift+Right Arrow on the Mac, one, two, three, four, five times in a row. So once again Command+Shift+Right Arrow on the Mac, Ctrl+Shift+Right Arrow on the PC, five times in order to scoot the lightning over 50 pixels to the right.
Now as soon as you do that you are going to see that you reveal 50 pixels of emptiness over here on the left hand side of the image. See that right there and we need to cover that up somehow. We need to get rid of that hard edge over here on the left-hand side of the composition. So I am going to bring back the Layers palette. I am going to click on the layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette in order to add a layer mask. Then I am going to go grab my Gradient tool here in the toolbox. I am going to check that my gradient is set to black to white and if it isn't for you, you can just go ahead and select this third gradient in the list Black White, Black, White.
Make sure that the Style is set to Linear Gradient. Make sure the Blend mode is set to Normal. Opacity a 100%. Reverse off, Dither and Transparency both on. So all of the settings that you see there at the top of the screen, then I am going to drag from this point here and I am going to press the Shift key and drag over to about even with the ear, the beginning of the ear. So I will go left edge of the ear, that is to say and then I will release and that goes ahead and softens that edge. So we have a gradient layer mask that is modifying the appearance of the lightning layer that is the capillaries layer of course.
Now we are done. I am going to Tab away the palette. I am going to go ahead and switch to the full screen mode right here. Then I am going to zoom in on the image and here is the final version of the composition. Thanks to Advanced Blending inside Photoshop, including but not limited to luminance blending. The Blend If function, fill opacity and of course, the fill opacity eight layer masking, smart filters and smart filter blending here inside Photoshop CS3.
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