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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."
In this final exercise for this project before we move on into another project of course, we are going to add some tendrils of lightening that are basically rotating around this pen nib, and it's kind of a cool effect as you will see. And it's definitely a cool technique, whatever you thing think of the effect. I am currently working in yet another catchup document, the final one, which is called Choked edges.psd. It's found inside of the 16_Tough_ Stuff folder and I also have opened this image right here. It's called More lightening.jpg, also inside that same 16_Tough_Stuff folder.
This image comes to us from photographer Alan Johnson, once again, of iStockPhoto.com. I want you to press Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, and that's Command+A, Command+C on the Mac, in order to copy the lightening to the clipboard. Now let's switch back to the composition at hand and I am going to click on the background layer to make it active and then I am going to Shift+Tab away my palettes so I have a little more room to work. I am going to press Ctrl+V or Command +V on the Mac in order to paste that lightening in the place and I am going drag it down.
I am Ctrl+Dragging or Command+Dragging on the Mac until the center sort of that emission point for he lightning. Actually, I guess lightening usually comes from the ground up into the sky, but whatever that bright spot right here, that should be right there on the pen nib it should be registered with the pen nib. And now I want to go ahead and screen that lightening into the background. Of course, big surprise there. So assuming that one of my selection tools is active. In my case Rectangular Marquee is. You can press Shift+Alt+S or Shift+Option+ S on the Mac to switch to the Screen mode.
It is overly bright at this point. So what we might want to do is we could take advantage of that great lightening technique where we use a Luminance Exclusions Slider Bars to get rid of all these junk in the background, but I am going to do more of a brain dead technique. I am just going to use the Levels command in order to darken up the image. So I am going to press Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac and I am going to take this black point up to 140 about and this looks pretty dark good to me. Actually, we might -- How is the 130 look? That looks even better.
All right, so let's try a black point of 130, leave the other values the way they are, click OK. Now what we are going to do is we are going to be rotating this lightening around this center, around the pen nib over and over and over again and every time we are going to be setting the lightening the screen which means that were going to be increasingly expanding the brightness of the central hotspot here, because you can see it is already brighter than the rest of the lightening. So what I want to do is I want to knock it down a bit using the Burn tool. So I am going to click on the Burn tool here inside the toolbox and I am going to change the range from shadows to Midtones, because we are doing regular continuous tone image editing at this point.
So go ahead and click on Midtones. And then I am going to increase the size of my cursor a little bit and I am going to click once, then twice then three times and four times and five times. I am just clicking over and over again on this lightning about eight or ten times somewhere in there. Then I am going to drag down over this lightning a little bit and maybe click on this area there to as well. So that's pretty good. Now then let's checkout power duplication inside of Photoshop. I don't know if you know this is available to you. Most applications, most like a vector based applications like Illustrator allow you to transform objects over and over again.
So you just set the first transformation and then you repeat it multiple times. You can do that inside of Photoshop as well. Here is the first step. The first step is to press Ctrl+Alt+T or Command+Option+T on the Mac and that's invoking the free transform mode when you press Ctrl+T you got to free transform or Command+T on the Mac adding Alt or Option to the mix goes ahead and creates a clone. So you are transforming a clone instead of the original. Now try to find your center point. It is around here some place, there it is. This guy right there, see that transformation originate there.
I want you to drag it on to the pen nib like so and then we will just go ahead and drag, move your cursor outside of the transformation boundary so you get this rotatory cursor and I want you to drag in a counterclockwise fashion like this till you get about this point right here. So you have some lightning going off diagonally down into the right. And in my case it's telling me that the angle of the transformation is 37.4 degrees. I don't really care that much, but I am just pointing that out in case you want to exactly match what I am doing, and then I will go ahead a press the Enter key in order to accept that modification.
All right now here is how we invoked power duplication. All this stuff happens from the keyboard. Ctrl+Shift+Alt, press all those keys, and T on the Mac that would be Command+Shift+Option+T. So mesh your fist down on the keyboard and then T in order to repeat that transformation. It just go head and does it again and it goes ahead and duplicates the layer again as well. Let's do it a couple of more times. So Ctrl+Shift+Alt+T again and Ctrl+ Shift+Alt+T again that would be Command +Shift+Option+T a couple of more times on the Mac. Is that not wild? That is great, isn't it? Now I am going to go ahead and bring back my Layers palette and you can see that I have got a bunch of layers here there are piled on top of each other which is five, I think so 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 layers of lightning now at this point.
I want you to select all of them. So click on one, Shift+Click on the other to select this entire range. Let's go ahead and merge them together and you can merge all of these layers by going up to the layer menu and choosing the Merge Layers command or you can just press Ctrl+E, Command+E on the Mac. That will merge those guys down into a single lightning layer. We lost the Screen mode at this point. That's not a problem, because we reapply it in just a moment. But notice how hard things are getting right there in the center, and actually let's just go ahead and call this sparks or something along those lines. And I want to dim this down once again.
So let's go grab that Burn tool and I am going to really go with the massive brush at this point and I will just brush around the center in order to make this central point a little less blasty than it was before a little less hot. And if you want to adjust some of the other tendrils of lightening you surely can. It is totally up to you. Now let's go back to the selection tool there. The Rectangular Marquee tool and I will press Shift+Alt+S or Shift+Option+S on the Mac to reapply the Screen mode.
And I am not so sure I like that color that's showing up there. So why don't we just take the color out of the picture by pressing Ctrl+Sift+U Or Command+Shift+U on the Mac in order to apply the desaturation function to the sparks. And there you have it folks, the result of carefully keeping that cast shadow. It makes a little less sense now we that have this blasting lightning all over the place, but it still looks great, and we saw a difference mask. We saw how to work with an arbitrary map. We will see more of that later. We saw how to create a flesh mask, and object mask, we drew in missing details using the Lasso tool, lots, and lots of stuff happening this time around.
In the next exercise we will see you how to mask blonde hair, the special considerations required to mask blonde here. Something we haven't seen before.
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