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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 people, it maybe a long way to Tipperary, but it's an even longer way to the end of advanced blending inside of Photoshop and yet here we stand poised to completely finish this chapter and this composition that we've been working on here. We've successfully established the transitional layers, one multiply and one luminosity layer that will help us blend this young lady with her new background. We are now going to top it off with an application of yet another layer set to the normal blend mode, slightly blurred inward as you'll see and it's going to basically we're going to create a composition that makes it look as if she spent her entire life against this background, she is going to look so absolutely credible.
So I am working on as usual the updated version of this image, it's called Transitionals.psd found inside the 10 Advanced Blend folder. I want you to make sure that the top layer Lum is selected and then go ahead and press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac in order to jump it to yet another layer. We'll call this one Norm for normal. She is not actually changing her name to a man's name and then we'll switch the mode from Luminosity way here at the bottom of the pop up menu to normal way here at the top.
So go ahead and choose the Normal mode. That's all we have to do inside this dialog box. So click OK in order to accept that change. Miraculously her original colors are reinstated. Bad news is that we have some edges that need a little bit of work right here. So let's go ahead and work on them. I want you to click on the layer mask for the Norm layer. So just go ahead and click on layer mask thumbnail for this top layer in the stack. We don't need to choke this layer anymore, I just want to go ahead and blur it. So I am going to reapply the last filter we applied. Assuming that you've been working along with me, that last filter is right there, Gaussian blur, so all you have to do if that's the case is press Ctrl+Alt+F or Command+Option+F on the Mac in order to revisit the Gaussian blur dialog box. I am going to change the radius value to 40 pixels like so and I will go ahead and drag that preview over so we can see the before version, then I will release. This is the after version. Very fuzzy indeed, so I basically doubled the radius value this time around.
I will go ahead and click OK. Now we have that same problem we had before last time we applied Gaussian blur just in the last exercise. Well, not only do we blur inward which is a good thing but we blurred outward as well. By virtue of the fact that we blurred outward, we've created this halo around the girl's shoulders and around her hair and so forth. In order to get rid of that halo, we could revisit that multiply layer mask once again. But this time we don't have to, we just applied one filter and one filter only, just Gaussian blur so we can fade it with the original appearance of this layer mask by going up to the Edit menu and choosing Fade Gaussian Blur or you can press Ctrl+Shift+F, Command+ Shift+F on the Mac. Just go ahead and choose the Command though and now you can establish a blend mode.
We want to adjust the areas of white inside of the image. So in other words, we want the Gaussian blur inward but not outward. That means Gaussian blurring into the white area, but not into the black area. So we're going to take the blurred version of the image and use it to darken the original version of the image and we're going to do that using the Multiply mode. So go ahead and choose Multiply and watch this area is going to go away, there it is. We totally get rid of that halo there because we just used the original version of the mask in order to multiply away the bright edges of the new version of the mask. All right, now that we've done it, go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification and we are done, that's all it takes. And if you were to take a look at these various layers as we will right now, you can see that every single one of the layers is making an important contribution to the overall whole. So this is what things look like without that Multiply layer.
You can see that we're totally now missing those dark edges that we need to burn in to the background. We desperately need those edges in order for this composition to work. So go ahead and turn Multiply back on. If we didn't have the Normal layer obviously, if I were to turn Norm off, we wouldn't have any of the proper colors inside of the interior of this image. So we wouldn't have the right flash tones, her dress would look wrong, her lips would look wrong, her eyes would look wrong, her hair would look wrong and so on of course. So I will go ahead and turn normal back on, but even the Lum layer, the Luminosity layer is making a very important contribution. If you turn it off, you'll see what the big difference is.
You'll see how our transitions don't look right at all. We're too dark, we're too translucent here around the edges of the shoulder and the hair and so on. With the help of that Luminosity layer though, we have a nice step in between Normal and Multiply. So the entire composition works. All right, I am going to go ahead and zoom out, and you can see it just looks great, feels awesome inside of this new environment. Now, let's say we want to move her into a different position. We need to be able to move all those three layers at the same time. So go ahead and click on one, Normal is selected for me right now. Then, Shift+Click on the last of the three. So I'd click on Norm and then Shift+Click on Multiply in order to select this entire range. Then, I am going to go up to the Layers palette menu and I am going to choose New Group from Layers in order to group all of these layers together. Photoshop will invite me to name this group and I will just go ahead and call it young lady because that's what she is and I will click OK in order to accept that result.
So now we have all three of the layers grouped together, so that they will move together, we can transform them together and so on. Now, I am going to tab away my palettes and if I were to Ctrl+Drag the image, I would move all three layers at once. So I will go ahead and cheat her over to the left hand side a little bit and that is the final version of my image. I am going to go ahead and fill the screen with the image, and I am going to go ahead and zoom in and voila, there it is. What an awesome composition. Check out those hairs, those details around the edges.
Not only do we have every single hair intact, but we have these wonderful bursts as well. So, all that softness that we had inside of the original image has been conveyed into this new background as well. So we're wrapping the warmth around the right side of her head and we are -- just on and on. I mean we can see through -- even we can see through these edges of her shoulder as well which is in keeping with the original version of the photograph. So a beautiful, credible composition, thanks to a little bit of masking and a whole lot of advanced blending inside of Photoshop CS3.
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