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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."
Wooh! I say Wooh! We have managed to restore the scalp and if you aren't with me, or you lost interest in the last exercise, well, what have you, then you can catch right up, you can join me in my document by opening this image right here. It's called, The scalp restored.tif found inside the 14_Calulations folder. I am going to go ahead and click on the Dodge and burn channel here in order to make it active. Now notice that this Dodge and burn channel, that's the last version of this channel, that I created but there is also this mixer channel, which is a different spin on it, this is a version that I created actually last year. This is an alternate version, basically following the exact same steps but you will see that the hairs are little more fragile in this version, in the mixer version than they are in a Dodge and burn version. So every single time you mask this image, it's going to turn out differently. Even if you are the exact same guy, which I am as me, that is.
All right, so now we need to get rid of his face, so that we can get more or less this effect, which is the effect that's stored inside of the masker alpha channel. All right, so let's grab Dodge and burn, you might want to duplicate it just to preserve your steps here. I am going to go ahead and do that, I will go ahead and drag it down on to little page icon at the bottom of the Channels palette. That's going to put it at the bottom of the stack. Why don't we move it back to the number 5 position, just so that we have a keyboard shortcut for it. So you may want to take the time, as you are working inside your images to position your alpha channels in the order that you are going to need them. So that you have keyboard shortcuts at your disposal, if you work this way. I am going to call this one, Final mask because that's what it aspires to be, baby.
Now let's care of it. I am going to grab my Magic Wand tool and make sure that the Tolerance value is set to 0, Anti-alias is turned off. I am going to click in the white region of the image, like so. Then I am going to Shift+Click in this white region towards the bottom. So you click in the white region towards the top, Shift+Click in the white region towards the bottom, so that you have both regions of white selected. So that you know where you need to Lasso. Then I am going to press the F key in order to switch to the Full Screen mode and I am going to grab my Lasso tool by pressing the L Key. I am going to Shift+Drag around through this area. Notice that I am Shift+Dragging through mask gully essentially here and inside the selection outline. Now when I get to the chin, I am going to have to cheat inward to keep too much chin, I don't want to go out in to background. Then I am going to come back, like so, go down towards the bottom of the image. It's a wonderful thing about working in the Full Screen mode, is you don't get that irritating auto scroll going on, which I really don't want at this point. Now I have Shift+Dragged around that entire region Now my background color is white, so I am going to press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac in order to fill that region with white, good. Now I will press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac in order to deselect that region. Now we have got to paint away his chin and we could do the dodging, and the burning, and all that jazz but if we do, we will get rid of some of these details right there. I don't want to do that, I don't want to make the chin details all of a sudden sharper in this region, which is a possibility, if we start using the Dodge and Burn tools, or overlay painting, or any of that jazz.
So let's grab the paintbrush. We have, in advance, made sure we are working with good settings, which is to say, I am working with a fairly small brush at this point. I have got a 45 pixel Diameter right now, I may make it smaller, actually, and my Hardness is set to 0. Let's go ahead and take the Hardness value up to 50%. So we have a little less in the way of noise going on. Then I am going to switch over to the Brushes palette here and I am going to make sure that the Noise check box is turned on. I want you to do that as well.
Now we should paint with white so press the X key to make sure that the foreground color is white and start painting away the chin. We are painting in 100% Opacity, by the way. I might make my brush a little smaller and just come down, like that. Do you see what I am doing right there? Paint away the chin thusly. Now if I feel like I painted away a little bit too much noise, which I do. No, I don't. That's his original noise and that was good. All right, that was a good modification, everything looks good. Never mind my hesitancy, I should have felt confident as anything because this is a good mask, excellent. All right, we are done with this stage of things because we have created our final mask. This is one of the most complicated masks, you will ever create, hopefully, not going onward but you are now prepared to create such complicated masks in the future because you know the steps required to do it.
In the next exercise, we are going to test out, how well our mask is going to work, by taking our image and compositing it into a different background. Along the way, I am going to show you some wonderful new compositing techniques before this chapter is over.
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