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Alpha channels are collections of luminance data that control the transparency of images, and they influence just about everything in Photoshop. Coming to terms with alpha channels, also known as masks, is a surefire way to maximize results. Omni Award-winning Photoshop expert Deke McClelland leaves no pixel unturned as he explores Refine Edge, Color Range, the Channels palette, the Quick Mask mode, channel masking, blend modes, and more. After watching Photoshop CS3 Channel and Masks: The Essentials, even the most complex techniques will seem like child's play. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts for Channels and Masks from the Exercise Files tab."
In this exercise I'm going to show you how you can move and clone selected pixels using the Move tool, which is this guy right here at the top of the toolbox, you can get it by pressing the V key as in move if you want to. I'm working inside of a catch up document called Selected iris.tif and if you're just joining us, you can load this iris mask right here just by Ctrl clicking on it or Cmd clicking on it here inside of the channels palette and you will have the selection outline that I created and modified in the previous exercise.
I'm now going to go ahead and grab the Move tool and notice that this time, with the Move tool selected, you have a black arrowhead with a pair of scissors next to it. So those scissors are showing you that if you move this selection right now you're going to leave a hole in its wake, and that whole is going to be in the color of the background color right here, which is white by default but could be set to a different color. All right, so as soon as I drag that iris to a different location, you can see that I've moved the iris of course, you can also see that I have this kind of cartoon hole in the background, this white hole and we've also ended up with something called a floating selection. Now we're going to talk more about floating selections in the next exercise, but essentially what you have is the selection that's floating above the surface of the image, kind of like a temporary layer, if you will. All right, I'm going to undo that modification by pressing Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac.
And this time I'm going to go ahead and clone the selection to a different location, and I'm going to do that by pressing the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac it and notice while you have that key down that you'll see that little double arrowhead and that shows you that you're going to drag a copy of the selection and leave the original behind. So while you have Alt or Option down, go ahead and drag that selection to a different location and now notice that you left the original iris behind, so you didn't create a whole and you also have the floater sitting right here and now you can drag that floater. Once you have a floater, you can drag it to any location you like, Whether you have the Move tool selected or one of the other selection tools as it turns out. Now I'm going to go ahead and undo that modification, just one press of Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z goes ahead and snaps that iris back into place, and the reason I'm doing this is I want to show you a keyboard trick for getting to the Move tool. I don't often go up and select the Move tool manually. What I do instead, I'll just be working with my selection tool and I'll press and hold the Ctrl key or the Cmd key on the Mac and notice that that temporarily, as long as that Ctrl or Cmd key is down, that I have access to the Move tool and this goes for when you have any of the tool selected, by the way, you can get to the Move tool by pressing the Ctrl or Cmd key on the fly, when you have any tool selected, other than the Pan, the Arrow and the Shape tools right there. So any other tool, you'll get the Move tool on the fly and so if you Ctrl drag or Cmd drag on the Mac, you're going to leave a hole in the wake of that movement, I'll go ahead and undo that.
If you press Ctrl+Alt or Cmd+Option on the Mac, then you're going to go ahead and clone that selection like so. All right, you notice that now I have my a Selection tool selected, my Elliptical Marquee tool active here and I can still just go ahead and drag this floating selection outline to a different location. All right, leave it floating and join me in the next exercise, because we're going to talk about how floating selections work.
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