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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, it's time for the blend-in. Now I am working in this catch-up document. In case this is the first movie of mine you have ever watched in your life. You can catch-up with me by opening this image right here, it's called Infrared.psd and it's found inside the 13 Channel Mix folder. We are seeing the over-the-top infrared effect applied to this woman and this man. So far the effect is not the least bit sublime, it's quite ridiculous and we've got very harsh transitions around the hairs and we have these ultra-light clipped highlights.
So let's go ahead; what I want to do with this infrared effect is I want to burn it into the shadows of the original image. So I want to use it to bolster the shadows to create a higher impact effect overall. So we're going to on one hand bolster the shadows, sink those shadows, make them darker and then turn around and lighten the highlights using a different effect, not this one. Here's what I want you to do. The first thing we're going to do is apply a Density Mask so that we're just affecting the shadows inside of the image, and we'll get that Density Mask by Alt+ Clicking or Option+Clicking on the eyeball in front of the background layer so that we can see the background layer by itself, the original image. Then I'll switch over to the Channels palette, and of these channels as soon as we've got of course the usual Red, Green, and Blue channels, of the bunch the Blue channel is the highest contract channel, also it does the best job of isolating the shadows inside of the image, her hair looks just lustrous and wonderful, his ridiculous black outfit with the white tie, sunglasses, and hair look wonderful, just terribly great, and we've got some isolated shadows is essentially what we have. So this channel will make a great Density Mask.
I am going to go ahead and Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on the channel in order to load it as a selection outline, that's Ctrl+Click on a PC and Command+Click on a Mac. I'll switch back to the RGB image, so let's go back to the Layers palette, Alt+Click or Option+Click once again on that eyeball there in order to bring back all the layers. Make sure that the infrared layer is active. Now if you still have Photoshop set up so that it's adding masks to your adjustment layers, go ahead and take that mask, grab it, and throw it away, drag it to the trash can. Then here's what I want you to do; in order to load this selection as a Density Mask you want to Alt+Click or Option+ Click on the layer mask icon down here at the bottom of the Layers palette that both converts the selection to a mask and it inverts the mask. So as you can see the shadows are white and the highlights are black inside of this mask, and therefore, we have isolated our modification, our channel mix modification just to the darkest colors inside of the image.
Now the effect looks quite ridiculous because we now need to blend the shadows in to the image in the background using a blend mode, and the blend mode then I am going to suggest is this guy right here Linear Burn. So it's a fairly over-the-top darkening effect, but that's okay because everything we are doing is quite extreme actually. So go ahead and choose Linear Burn that will sink those shadows in there, now that is over -darkening the shadows, we're ending up with quite a bit of clipping as you can see here inside the Histogram palette. So what I suggest we do at this point is on the PC I am going to go ahead and press the Escape key, so Linear Burn is no longer active. Then press the 5 key in order to lower the Opacity value to 50%, and we get this effect right here, and you can see we're not clipping shadows, we'll go ahead and update that histogram. We've got a ton of shadows as you can see, but we're not clipping anything over here on the side, just a little bit over here on the edge.
That is the same amount as we are clipping highlights. So it's perfectly acceptable, actually really great. So this is without that extreme channel mixing effect right there and this is with the effect, really pounding those shadows in. In the next exercise we are going to turn around and pound a few highlights and we're going to convert the image to black and white, it's going to look gorgeous as you'll see.
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