# The alpha channel is home to the mask

## Video: The alpha channel is home to the mask

Now that you know how the color bearing channels work, it's time to introduce you to the non-color bearing channels which are known as Alpha Channels. I explain why they're called Alpha channels in the very next movie, but for our purposes Alpha channels contain masks. Let's imagine a simple scenario. You start with a standard rectangular selection where you have to convert that selection to an Alpha Channel, everything inside the rectangle would be white and everything outside would be black, so just as everything inside the selection is selected and everything outside is protected, where an alpha channel is concerned white means selected and black means protected.

## The alpha channel is home to the mask

Now that you know how the color bearing channels work, it's time to introduce you to the non-color bearing channels which are known as Alpha Channels. I explain why they're called Alpha channels in the very next movie, but for our purposes Alpha channels contain masks. Let's imagine a simple scenario. You start with a standard rectangular selection where you have to convert that selection to an Alpha Channel, everything inside the rectangle would be white and everything outside would be black, so just as everything inside the selection is selected and everything outside is protected, where an alpha channel is concerned white means selected and black means protected.

So whatever modification you apply, whether you're moving or re-coloring or rendering something utterly unrecognizable, it will only happen to the area represented in white, but masking is not all black and white and alpha channel is a grayscale image. Those grays translate to subtle transitions, soft edges, gradient fades and so much more than you can do with a standard selection outline, so here's how it breaks down. An Alpha Channel contains a mask, masks and selection outlines are the same thing expressed in different ways, Photoshop sees a mask every time you make a selection.

So an Alpha Channel lets you store a selection for later use. It also lets you elaborate on that selection even using the selection tools themselves. This is just a warm-up, an introduction to Alpha Channels and a first glimpse into the magic of masking in Photoshop.

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#### This video is part of

128 video lessons · 29223 viewers

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1. ### Introduction

15m 25s
1. Welcome
1m 12s
3m 45s
4m 29s
4. Setting up a power workspace
5m 59s
2. ### 1. It All Starts with the Channel

1h 0m
1. The channel is the origin of masking
1m 54s
2. The Masks and Channels panels
4m 48s
3. How color channels work
7m 7s
4. Viewing channels in color
3m 24s
5. How RGB works
4m 12s
6. Single-channel grayscale
5m 12s
7. Mixing a custom "fourth" channel
5m 15s
8. The other three-channel mode: Lab
5m 45s
9. A practical application of Lab
4m 55s
10. The final color mode: CMYK
7m 5s
11. Introducing the Multichannel mode
5m 56s
12. Creating a unique multichannel effect
5m 18s
3. ### 2. The Magic of Masking

44m 27s
1. The alpha channel is home to the mask
1m 40s
2. The origins of the alpha channel
3m 40s
7m 10s
4. Making an alpha channel
4m 2s
5. Using the new channel icons
6m 27s
6. Saving an image with alpha channels
4m 23s
4m 7s
8. Putting a mask into play
3m 55s
4m 27s
4m 36s
4. ### 3. The Science of Compositing

1h 0m
1. The mask meets the composition
1m 8s
2. Viewing a mask as a rubylith overlay
6m 13s
3. Changing a mask's overlay color
5m 34s
6m 3s
5. Cleaning up and confirming
5m 18s
5m 10s
7. Painting behind and inside a layer
5m 27s
8. Blending image elements
6m 1s
9. What to do when layers go wrong
6m 3s
10. Hiding layer effects with a mask
4m 22s
5m 29s
3m 50s
5. ### 4. The Essentials of Selecting

1h 35m
1. The seven selection soldiers
52s
2. The marquee tools
6m 31s
3. The single-pixel tools (plus tool tricks)
6m 48s
4. Turning a destructive edit into a layer
5m 34s
5. Making shapes of specific sizes
7m 7s
6. The lasso tools
5m 49s
7. Working with the Magnetic Lasso tool
7m 19s
8. The Quick Selection tool
8m 13s
9. Combining Quick Selection and Smudge
4m 52s
10. The Magic Wand and the Tolerance value
6m 55s
11. Contiguous and Anti-aliased selections
6m 58s
12. Making a good selection with the Magic Wand
6m 34s
13. Selecting and replacing a background
6m 55s
14. Resolving edges with layer effects
7m 52s
15. Adding lines of brilliant gold type
7m 28s
6. ### 5. The Versatility of Combining and Transforming

1h 11m
1. Selections reign supreme
55s
2. Introducing "selection calculations"
4m 19s
3. Combining two different tools
7m 29s
5m 17s
5. Selecting an eye
7m 1s
6. Masking and blending a texture into skin
5m 1s
7. Painting a texture into an eye
4m 19s
8. Combining layers, masks, channels, and paths
4m 54s
9. Moving selection outlines vs. selected pixels
5m 36s
10. Transforming and warping a selection outline
7m 45s
11. Pasting an image inside a selection
7m 26s
6m 54s
13. Converting an image into a mask
4m 42s
7. ### 6. The Unmatched Power of Color Range

1h 5m
1. The best selection tools are commands
1m 5s
2. Introducing the Color Range command
5m 59s
3. Working in the Color Range dialog box
7m 7s
4. Primary colors and luminance ranges
4m 12s
5. A terrific use for Color Range
4m 57s
6. Introducing the Quick Mask mode
7m 43s
7. Moving a selection into a new background
5m 43s
8. Smoothing the mask, recreating the corners
8m 43s
9. Integrating foreground and background
4m 44s
10. Creating a cast shadow from a layer
2m 51s
11. Releasing and masking layer effects
3m 11s
12. Creating a synthetic rainbow effect
4m 30s
4m 46s
8. ### 7. The Unearthly Joy of Refinement

1h 17m
1. The ultimate in masking automation
1m 6s
2. Introducing the Refine Mask command
6m 58s
3. Automated edge detection
8m 23s
4. Turning garbage into gold
6m 19s
5. Starting with an accurate selection
7m 11s
6. Selection outline in, layer mask out
7m 48s
7. Matching a scene with Smart Filters
4m 29s
8. Cooling a face, reflecting inside eyes
4m 45s
9. Creating a layer of ghoulish skin
4m 28s
10. Adding dark circles around the eyes
5m 20s
11. Creating a fake blood effect
5m 38s
12. Establishing trails of blood
7m 40s
13. Integrating the blood into the scene
7m 3s
9. ### 8. The Rewards of Everyday Masking

1h 48m
1. Using the image to select itself
1m 37s
2. Choosing the ideal base channel
5m 7s
3. Converting a channel into a mask
6m 34s
4. Painting with the Overlay mode
7m 27s
5. Painting with the Soft Light mode
5m 55s
6. Mask, composite, refine, and blend
4m 40s
7. Creating a more aggressive mask
7m 2s
7m 0s
6m 0s
10. Using history to regain a lost mask
3m 42s
11. Separating flesh tones from hair
8m 28s
12. Adjusting a model's color temperature
4m 30s
13. Introducing the Calculations command
7m 22s
14. Extracting a mask from a Smart Object
6m 34s
15. Integrating a bird into a new sky
5m 40s
16. Creating synthetic rays of light
6m 4s
7m 39s
18. Introducing a brilliant light source
7m 5s
10. ### 9. The Mechanics of Layer Masks

1h 34m
1. The synthesis of masking and compositing
1m 36s
2. White reveals, black conceals
6m 45s
3. Layer masking tips and tricks
5m 8s
4. Generating a layer mask with Color Range
5m 38s
5m 18s
6. The Masks panel's good options
3m 50s
7. Creating and feathering a vector mask
3m 42s
8. Combining pixel and vector masks
3m 50s
9. Working with path outlines
7m 10s
10. Combining paths into a single vector mask
7m 52s
11. Sharpening detail, reducing color noise
4m 27s
12. Recreating missing details
8m 49s
5m 50s
14. Refining a jagged Magic Wand mask
5m 53s
15. Masking multiple layers at one time
5m 15s
16. Establishing a knockout layer
6m 6s
17. Clipping and compositing tricks
7m 37s
11. ### More to Come

1m 17s
1. Next steps
1m 17s

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