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Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals is the introductory installment of Deke McClelland's four-part series on making photorealistic compositions in Photoshop. The course shows how to make selections, refine the selections with masks, and then combine them in new ways, using layer effects, blend modes, and other techniques to create a single seamless piece of artwork. Deke introduces the Channels panel and the alpha channel, the key to masking and transparency in Photoshop; reviews the selection tools, including the Color Range tool , Quick Mask mode, and the Refine Edge command; and shows how to blend masked images so they interact naturally.
In addition to selecting an image by identifying key colors using that Eyedropper the Color Range command also let's you select predefined color and luminance ranges. And we are going to see how that works inside this image. And what I've done is map all the colors in the visible spectrum, at least where the world of digital imaging is concerned onto a big wheel. And so we start over here in right- hand side with red, progress through yellow and so forth. The most intensely versions of each color are located along the perimeter of the wheel and then toward the center we see the Saturation drop off until the very center point is absolutely gray.
Now each of the primary colors of light is identified with this old-style CRT monitor. So we've got red and green and then toward the bottom of the image we have blue and each of the primary colors in the print world is identified by this little printer, so we've got cyan, magenta and then up north here we have yellow. I've also gone ahead and identified some secondary colors such as orange, and then over here on the far right-hand side we have this Luminance Gradient. All right, having given you a sense of what's going on inside this kind of color diagram I am going to go up to the Select menu and choose the Color Range command and notice now, let's say I decide I want to sample the cyans.
I'll go ahead and click inside cyan with the Eyedropper. Notice we just get this tiny little bit of selection going. I'll crank that fuzziness value all the way up to 200 as high as it goes and I still have not managed to select much of the image and that's because these colors don't overlap each other much where the Luminance levels are concerned in the independent color channels. So as a result they are quite different from each other. And it also means that we end up with this really strangely shape selection, notice that it's not a fan of color the way it is inside the wheel, but rather sort of twists up and to the right here.
Let's compare that to what happens when we change the Select option. I'm going to go ahead and switch from Sampled Colors to Cyans instead. Notice that I lose my Eyedropper option. So I can no longer sample colors by clicking inside the image. However, I do get this uniform fan of colors located right there around cyan. And so all of the cyans are absolutely selected there and then the selection gradually drops off as we drift up toward green and down toward blue. So in other words, we are selecting that primary color cyan, we're not selecting the other primary colors green or blue.
And as selection dissipates as it drifts into the secondary colors. All right, let's see what each one of these looks like. If you switch to red and notice here in the PC this option is sticky. So I can go ahead and arrow through it. I've got this fan over here through the reds. Then if I arrow down we go into the yellows, then if I arrow down again we go into the greens and so forth. So these options here are ideally suited to selecting primary colors inside of an image. After that we've got the luminance ranges. So if I select highlights I am going to select all the brightest colors inside the image.
If I switch to Shadows I am going to select all the darkest colors as you can see here. And this includes that band of dark colors down here at the bottom of the gradient. And then if I switch to Midtones instead then I select everything that doesn't get selected by either highlights or shadows. Some of the primary colors fall inside of these various luminance ranges. For one reason or other it's because of the way the colors map out inside the color channels once again. And then finally we've got this option to select the out of gamut colors.
And what that's telling us is these are RGB values that cannot be reconciled exactly into the CMYK space. That doesn't mean these colors will drop -away the pixels that are turning white in the case of this Mask here. That just means that these are areas that are going to flatten out when the image goes to print. And so you could use this selection theoretically in order to either identify those colors or to perhaps temper them. All right, so much for the theory I just want you to see that these options are available to you. In the next exercise we are going to put the Color Range command to work to begin the creation of a fantastic composition.
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