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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."
Masking is hard enough when working with an opaque subject set against a relatively homogeneous background but one of that subject is casting a shadow that you want to bring into another composition, what if the subject is translucent as in the case of say, a flame? What if the subject contains the same colors as his or her background? What if the subject is wildly colorful with elaborate ruffles or fringes set against some busy multicolor background? What then Mr. Mask whiz, what then? Well, when the masking gets tough, the tough get masking, which is my way of saying, you have your work cut out for you.
Fortunately, I have a few suggestions, and while I can't show you each and every masking curve ball, that might get through in your way, I do manage to cover shadows, flames, blonde hair, feathers, and weird bushy things in the front of macaws that I don't what they are called. If nothing else, watch the final exercises, in which I explore three different ways to approach images with busy backgrounds. Somehow, someway, something is going to work.
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