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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 fellow masketeers in this next project we are going to take this dude's face right here and turn it into stone. It's a little bit of a morality story actually, because somewhere along the line this guy's mother must have told him that if he makes a face like this for a prolonged period of time, especially if he makes the classic, I-am -just-crazy-enough to-do-it face which is got to be the worst face of them all. If he makes that face for a prolonged period of time, it's going to turn to stone and we want children of the world around to believe their parents when they tell them that.
So that's what we are going to do, we are going to take this dude right here, take this guy make him the classic, just-crazy-enough-to-do-it face, and appropriately this image is called Just crazy enough.tif. It's found inside the 18_Displace_Maps folder. And we are going to wrap this stone around his face. Now this isn't actually stone, this is a kitchen tile, and it's probably made of petroleum or something along those lines, but it will work as stone. It will look like stone once we put it on the fellow's face. And the name of this image is Granite like tile.jpg. Also found inside the 18_Displace_Maps folder. This image comes to us from Jacintha Van Beemen and this one from Joseph John Roland Dube a very classy photographer. Actually he does really great work, and the man responsible for making the just- crazy-enough-to-do-it face. Both these photographers are with iStockPhoto.com.
Step number one is to go check out the masks inside of the Channels palette. I have created a couple of masks. The first one is called face. I made this mask using the Color Range command. I clicked and Shift+Clicked at various points inside of his face, and then I enhanced the mask of course using the Dodge and Burn tools. We are not going to go down that road. For the hundred million times we have seen enough of that by now I think. And then I also, I missed his neck in the process of selecting his face. I didn't quite get his neck. So I went ahead and made another pass and saved his neck in a separate alpha channel.
You could see if I turn on the RGB image at the same time here, you can see that his neck is very slim at points, because he is hunkering down. If you are making the classic just-crazy-enough- to-do-it face, you got to raise your shoulders, and you got to look crazy, I guess. And also after selecting this neck and I've got a little bit of whisker action which I like. We'll go ahead and turn of that RGB image once again. I selected up into the ear and then I used the gradient in order to dim the ear just a little bit. All right so those are the channels that we have to work with. I also have some paths, these eye paths right there. And I love these eye paths. I'll show you why, watch this. If I grab the white arrow tool, and I click at the top of the paths, we'll get these little levers and Shift+Click at the top of this one.
Then he's got these sort of manacled eyes, sort of the clock work orange device around his eyes, which I think is very fitting as well, because that would be his other punishment. Besides turning his face to stone we would also manacle his eyes, and make him watch movies of people making ridiculous faces, so he's not inclined to ever do it again. Anyway, so we got these paths. They will come into play in just a moment as you'll see. All right, let's go back to Layers palette, zoom out. All right, taking the entire monstrosity here, and I am going to press Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac to bring up the New Layer dialogue box, and let's call this Stone, because it approximately is. And I'll click OK. And we have an empty layer of stone of course.
Now let's go up to the Image menu and choose the Apply Image command. I quite like this way of working actually. Choose the Apply Image command, and we'll change the source from Just crazy enough to Granite like tile.jpg, and set the Blend mode to Normal of course, Opacity 100%. Checkboxes off except for Preview, click OK, and we have filled that new layer with the stone pattern. Now let's go ahead and grab the channels here. I am going to Ctrl+Click on the face channel, in order to load it as a selection outline, and then Ctrl+Shift+Click on the neck channel in order to load it as well. If you are working on a Mac, you would Command+ Click on the face channel, and then Command+Shift+Click on the neck channel in order to load it. So we're basically merging the two channels together into a single selection outline.
A couple of chapters ago I was telling you how you can also merge channels together, merge a couple of Alpha channels into a single channel by going up to the Image menu, choosing the Calculations command, selecting these two channels and setting the Blend mode to Screen, and you may wonder well what's the difference. There is no difference. When you are combining masks in a way we just did, Ctrl+Shift+Click or Command+ Shift+Click, then you are performing a Screen Blend mode. You are blending the two channels together into a single selection outline using Screen. That's the way it works.
All right, anyway let's go back to the Layers palette. Let's apply this selection outline as a layer mask by clicking on the Add a Layer mask icon and there it is, looks very, very nice of course. Now I do want the stone to blend a little better with the shadow contours in the face and ultimately I am going to be applying the Overlay blend mode, but before I do I want to take advantage of those luminance exclusion slider bars inside the big Layer Style dialogue box. So let's go ahead and increase the width of this layer just a little bit and I am going to press the F key so that I enter the Full Screen mode and I can move this guy over to the left a little. So then I can see him and the Layer Style dialogue box at the same time.
Double click on the thumbnail, in order to bring up the Layer Style dialogue box, and I am going to Alt or Option+Drag the right half of this black underlying layer triangle to 140, so that we get a soft drop off between 0 and 140, like so, and you could see how I just introduced some additional shadows into the granite contours. Now I am going to move the white triangle, once again, the one that's associated with the underlying layer slider. I am going to move it over to 255 and I am going to Alt+Drag or Option+Drag the left half of this triangle over to 175 like so. And these are values I am looking for that this layer slider can remain the way it was, don't make any changes to it.
And just so you can get a sense of what we were able to accomplish there, this is before and this is after, so an awful lot of blending going on. Now I don't want the granite to go into his eyes, because his mother didn't warn him that his eyes were going to turn to stone. It was his face implying his flesh, of course, was going to turn to stone. So we need to remain true to mom's advice there. Being parent, I am very respectful of this kind of thing, don't you know? So switch to the Layer mask, make sure it's active, then let's go to the Paths palette. I want you to Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on the eyes in order to load that selection outline. Now let's go back to the Layers palette. And as I say we have the layer mask selected, that's good.
Check out your foreground and background colors. Foreground color is Black, so I'll press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete in order to fill the selection outline with Black. Let's see how that looks, it's looks great actually. So Ctrl+D, Command+D on the Mac in order to deselect the image. And zoom out just a little bit so that we can take in his entire face and finally what we are going to do, click back in layer thumbnail. It's not essential you do that, but you might as well. And I am going to change the Blend mode to Overlay by pressing Shift+Alt+O or Shift+Option+O on the Mac. Is that not nice? I think that looks great, actually.
There's one problem with it of course, and that's the granite doesn't wrap along the contours of his face. It is just sitting on there, and I think we could get a more believable effect. I mean I think this looks good. Here's what he looked like before, here's what he looks like now. So we definitely have a nice coating of stone on him, but if we were to apply a displacement map as well, we could get that stone to wrap along the contours of his nose, and his lips, and his cheek, and his jaw and so on, and that is exactly what we are going to do in the next exercise.
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