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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."
Over the course of this in the next few exercises, we are going to be assembling a Mock Magazine cover. That magazine cover will involve among other things glass. We're actually going to be masking glass against this background, that you see before you right now. And unlike hair and some of the other details we have masked up to this point, masking glass isn't a matter of selecting the edges; rather it's a matter of balancing the highlights and the shadows, as you'll see. In any event, this project is officially complicated, that is to say it has a sufficient number of parts associated with it, that I figure they might benefit us all if I went ahead and did a quick preview.
So I am going to show each one of the steps in advance so you have a sense of what's coming. I am working inside of this image called Magazine cover.psd. It's found inside of the 11_layer_masks folder. You can see that this image contains lots of layers, all of which, but the background are turned off currently. That's because I've gone ahead and saved out some Layer Comps and I am going to tour you through those layer comps right now. You may have recall, layer comps allow you to save layered states inside Photoshop. I am going to go ahead and collapse the palettes over here on the right hand side of the screen. I am going to switch to the Full Screen mode so that I can move my composition over to the left just a little bit. Then I am going to bring up the Layer Comps palette. You can do so as well by choosing Layer Comps from the Windows menu, and right now we are seeing the Background comp, which is just the background imagery. Now I am going to switch to the next comp by clicking on this right pointing arrowhead down here at the bottom of the Layer Comps palette.
This is the Glass image that we are going to introduce into this composition. We'll next set the Glass image to the Linear Burn, the Linear Burn mode in order to burn those shadows into the background. Then we are going to copy the glass and set it to Normal. Next, we are going to make a layer mask. Basically, the idea is that none of the Blend modes do a good job of keeping the highlights, because there are too many highlights associated with this Glass image, so we have to use a layer mask instead. Then I move that highlight layer, that masked highlight layer in back of the shadow layer and I set that layer to the Linear Dodge mode, so that we end up getting this effect right here in which the glass is basically interacting with the background artwork in a very nice fashion, I think.
Next, I turn on some text elements I have created in advance for you. We'll also bring up the leading story down here in the bottom left corner of the image. I'll go ahead and make a layer mask for that story, so that you can see the very edges of the letters are masked by the glass actually, tuck under the glass slightly. Then we're going to go ahead and add a goldfish to the mix. We'll actually set a goldfish inside of the glass or at least it will appear to be inside of the glass. It's really in front of the glass. I set the goldfish to the Multiply Blend mode, so that's good. The thing is, I am not really happy with effect that the goldfish is orange, especially given the predominance of green in this magazine cover.
So I want to go ahead and colorize it green which I do, but if you look closely, it's got kind of a rectangle of green around it. So we blend it as a group and that rectangle goes away. This is the final version of the magazine cover right here. As I say, we'll be creating it together over the course of the next few exercises, so stay tuned.
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