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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.
When I last left off, I had made the mistake of hand painting inside the base version of an alpha channel, and that's a terribly destructive modification. So, it means that I can't really go back. If I made some sort of mistake when painting inside of this channel, I can't go back to the base without having to re-create it, and let's say that's not the route I want to take. I want to go ahead and regain that original base from my history states. That maybe possible, depending on how many times you brushed inside Photoshop.
You may be able to go back to the History panel, and regain your work, and here is how. I've saved my progress as Hair-only mask .psd, but what I want to stress here is that file, by itself, will not give you what you need, because I cannot save history along with a file. In order to follow along with me, you will have had to perform the previous exercise as well. Anyway, here's what you do. In case you ever run into this problem, and you're just trying to keep all of your ducks in a row, then you go up to the Window menu, and you choose the History command, and then inside the History panel -- go ahead and expand it all the way -- you'll see just a ton of Brush tool modifications.
Now, if you painted more than 20 times, then by default, you're in trouble. Basically, all your old states will have scrolled off the list. However, if you're fortunate enough to have painted less than 20 times, as is the case for me, then you can click to that state right before the first Brush tool, and you'll see that you regain that original version of the R invert 100/1/200 version of the alpha channel. Now notice, here at the bottom of the History panel, if you hover over that first icon, it says Create new document from current state.
Go ahead and click on that item in order to create that document. Then what I want you to do is return to the document at hand. This is very important, by the way, and I did so by pressing Control+Tab here on a PC; that's Command+Tilde on the Mac. And you want to move all the way forward, once again, to the very last state, so that you don't lose any of your brush modifications. Let's go ahead and rename this alpha channel hair-only mask, because after all, that's what it is. Then go ahead and switch back to that image, which in my case is called Channel options, because that was the name of the state that I just duplicated.
Then you want to right-click inside the alpha channel and choose Duplicate Channel. Once the Duplicate Channel dialog box appears on screen, change the Document option from whatever it is to, in our case, Hair-only mask.psd, and click OK. Then switch back to that document, and you'll see that you've restored your original R invert 100/1/200 alpha channel. Go ahead and drag it up on top of the previous ones, so everybody is in the right order.
This alpha channel right here, by the way, the one in italics; that's the layer mask. So we've restored that first alpha channel to its appearance before we started brushing. That second alpha channel is the one to which I applied all the brushstroke modifications. So I've got everything I need to maintain the most flexible composition possible. The final step is to go ahead and switch over to that image that you created from the History panel, and close it, and then say No, you don't want to save the changes. On a Mac, you would click the Don't save button, because we don't need it anymore, and that's it.
So we now have the hair mask. We've got everything we need, in fact. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how employ this hair mask to regain the details along the model's jaw, neck, and shoulders.
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