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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.
Over the course of the last several chapters, you've seen how Photoshop automates the process of both creating and editing selections and masks. But while automation is great, it represents just a small part of what Photoshop can do. Photoshop's most powerful masking features come entirely without operating instructions, which means that they require not only study and practice, but also forethought, and some manual labor. But that's actually good news. The real nirvana of masking comes when you stop making Photoshop jump through your hoops, and you begin to look at the world through Photoshop's eyes, by which I mean, in this chapter, you'll learn how to use the image to select itself.
I start by showing you how to evaluate the independent color-bearing channels in an image, so you can spot the one that provides the specific information you'll need to generate a mask. Then I show you how to increase the contrast of a mask, both globally, using the Levels command, and then selectively, using the Brush tool, combined with the Overlay blend mode. Next, I show you how to take a masked image, and composite it against an entirely different background; one that shares almost nothing in common with the original. And we'll take our first look at the Calculations command, which let's you composite two channels to create a mask.
That's right; we're using masking to create a composition, and compositing to create a mask. And did you notice? We'll be selecting hair, down to the individual strands, as well as feathers. Get ready for the best chapter yet.
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