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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."
Now it's time for the last step, the final step where this particular image is concerned. We need to go ahead and brighten the teeth and the highlights, in general, throughout the image. This time, rather than creating an adjustment layer and then adding a layer mask, we are going to create the selection that will service the layer mask first and then add the adjustment layer. So I am working inside of an image that represents our progress today. It's called Vibrant background.psd and it's found inside the 11_layer_masks folder.
Make sure that the sky layer is active and then I want you to go up to the Select menu, and choose Color Range. So we are going to work from the composite image this time around. It's okay that we are seeing both layers. Go ahead and choose a Color Range command or use a keyboard shortcut if you've got it and you may or may not see anything selected by default. What I suggest you do is change the Selection Preview from Grayscale to None so that you can see the full color version of the image. Then click inside of her teeth some place. You might even just kind of Shift+Drag across her teeth, but don't select the gums, we don't want to drag across the gums right now. That's it, that's the only clicking and Shift+ Clicking I want you to do inside of the image. Then I want you to increase the Fuzziness value pretty dramatically. We will go ahead and take that up to about 120 right here.
That actually might be too much, let's go ahead and switch over to Grayscale, so we can see how much of the image is selected. That is actually way too much of the image. I just want some highlights, some general highlights selected. So I am going to click inside of the teeth again. This looks much better to me and now I am going to click OK in order to accept this selection. It will look like this, the marching ants; of course, not being very representative of what the selection really looks like. Now I want you to go down to the Black/ White icon. Press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, click and hold and choose the Levels command. Now you can release the Alt or Option key. I want you to name this new layer teeth, that's all we need to do inside of this dialog box, then click OK. Once again, we are going to be changing the Levels values on a channel by channel basis, because the teeth are a little bit too pink. We need to remove that color cast at the same time that we are brightening the teeth.
So let's go ahead and press Ctrl+1 or Command+1 to switch to the Red channel. I want you to change, we will just be changing the white point value that's associated with the input levels for each and every channel. Change the white point inside of Red channel to 240. Then press Ctrl+2 or Command+2 on the Mac to switch to the Green channel. I want you to change this value to 210, so we are adding more green than we are red. We already had pink teeth, and we didn't need to add that much red, but we do need to add quite a bit of green and even more blue to the highlights inside of the image.
So once again, change the white point for the greens to 210. Then press Ctrl+3 or Command+3 on the Mac to switch to the Blue channel, and I want you to change this white point value to 195, like so. Notice we have bright white glimmering teeth, not too white, so we still have some detail inside the teeth. They look actually really great. Now I'll click OK in order to accept the modification. So this is what the image looks like without that new adjustment layer that we just created, this is what it looks like with the adjustment layer. Let's go ahead and zoom in actually and take a look at that again. This is without, so some dim sort of, as I see, kind of, gummy teeth. It looks like your teeth are made out of gums, like people gums. Then when you turn this layer back on, they look nice and bright just the way they should look. I am sure this is the way the model Steph look in real life, and that's our job often times, to change the photograph inside of Photoshop the way that it ought to be.
All right, so here is the improved version of the image. Thanks to adjustment layers and layer masks working together inside Photoshop.
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