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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 as you are probably aware by now we're going to learn how to select and mask images using paths that you can draw with Pen tool and the Shape tool as well here inside Photoshop. And I am going to spend this exercise introducing you to the sample project that is going to occupy this entire chapter. And that's this one right here. It's called Fish face.psd and that's not really fish face. She is not a fish face. It means fish face. So there is little pause in there because we've got fish over here in the left side of the image and face over here in the right side of the image.
And that file is found inside the 15 Paths folder. This is a highly graphic file. You don't have to create highly graphic meaning sharp edged files using paths inside of Photoshop. However, paths are inherently hard edge. They are inherently graphical objects. So if you are sort of an artistic type, you may very well take to the Pen tool and the Paths palette and that kind of stuff very readily. If you are not an artistic type, if you're more at your heart a photographer, you may not really ever catch on to them. And I am just saying that because that has been my experience over time. I have seen artists really caught into the Pen tool right away and I have seen photographers just absolutely disparage over the tool. But I am going to do my best to show it to you in the clearest fashion possible of course so that you learn it as well as it can be learned by you, my friend. All right so here's the project as I was saying. And let's go ahead and walk through it inside of this exercise bit by bit here.
And the reason that it's got so many elements associated with it, so much stuff, is because I want to show you every single darn thing you can do with the Pen tool and the Paths palette, because they are exceptionally capable functions here inside the program. All right, so I am going to go ahead and bring up my palettes and I am going to -- you can see I've got a ton of layers going on inside of this file. I am going to go ahead and collapse the first column of palettes and expand the second column of palette so that I can see my Layer Comps palette right here. You can also choose a Layer Comps command from the Window menu if you like in order to see that palette and we are going to wander through these various Layers Comps. You can see that we're seeing the final Layer Comp right now. But if we click the little right pointing arrow head we'll go to the first Layer Comp. And this is a series of Baracudas. I am told.
Now I thought they might be some other kind of fish but a few people here just swear they are Baracudas. So I am calling them Baracudas as well. And this image comes to us from photographer Tammy Peluso. Beautiful image I think, really cool. Whatever kind of fish they are that she caught this many at a time and if they are Baracudas, they can occasionally hurt people. They are not generally but they are a little bit scary and when there is this many of them, my goodness you are just one human being I would be frightened. All right and here's the Profile and of course this image we've seen this one before a few chapters back. This exceptionally beautiful image comes to us from photographer Alexandra Alexis.
And then I went ahead and selected her and I did this inside of that other file too. You may recall that we saw this image, her profile against some mountains when we discussed blend modes, 'lo those many chapters ago. And the way that I selected her was using the Pen tool and the reason I used the Pen tool is because she has a very clearly delineated outline. But she is very difficult to isolate from her background, using traditional masking techniques and the Pen tool was just the easiest way to go. And then I went ahead and applied Vector mask like you can see right here. Now if you are curious how Vectors work inside of Photoshop, I am going to point you another direction. I am going to cover how all of these tools work here inside of this chapter. But I want you to know I have a larger discussion of the very notion of Vectors inside Photoshop. Inside my Photoshop CS3 One-on-One series that's available to all you subscribers to the Lynda.com Online Training Library.
And you would want to check out chapter 20 Vector-based shapes, just to find out what the word vector means and what's going on with vector outlines inside of Photoshop in general. But you can see that we've managed to create a very clearly delineated outline, a very sharp outline between the profile and the fish in the background. The next Layer Comp is this one right here. I decided to go ahead and colorize the fish using sort of a flesh tone here. Because I thought it just gave the image a better look ultimately and then I decided that she wanted to be a little bit bluer.
So I gave her a little bit of an Underwater coloring. And then I added the Shape layer around her face. Now this is a classic shape layer inside of Photoshop. Shape layers having been introduced in Photoshop 6, as it turns out. So this is a traditional vector-based shape living in a pixel-based world. And we'll see how to make those of course. And then I went ahead and added her Super suit as you can see here over on the right side of the vector-based outline right there. And then this next thing is very interesting in my opinion.
We've got these waves that are sort of cutting across her head a little bit here. And they are a combination of Vectors and Pixels working together. So we've got both Vector and Layer mask, the traditional Layer mask combined on this one Layer. Pretty interesting, intense stuff as we'll see. Then I went ahead and added some title text and that's going to be over here on the left side of the image. The Woman from a'Queous is how I was figuring that would be pronounced and that's the title of this wide format book. I don't know what's going on, it's a picture book, it's a children's book, I don't know, a graphic novel may be, up to you. You can make up the back story here if you like. But then I decided I wanted to modify a couple of the characters here. I wanted to modify this quote mark and the descender from the 'Q' and so I did that using paths inside Photoshop. So I converted the text to paths and then I was able to edit those paths. And I got this effect right here.
Watch the quote mark and the 'Q' watch that change. There it is, see it's fairly subtle. But I did want that change to be in there and then we went ahead and added the authors over here on the right side of the document. And that's just the photographers Tammy Peluso and Alexandra Alexis. And then I wasn't sure if the publisher of this particular title was going to like my fleshy fish. So I went ahead and turned off that fleshiness to restore the original blue fish. And then I figured they could choose which one they want. That's the great thing about Layer Comps is you can set up sort of alternate versions of an image as we've done here. All right, so I am going to go ahead and Shift+Tab away my palette. So this is a the fleshy version of the fish. This is the blue version of the fish. You can decide which one you like better. I like this one better actually.
I like the fleshy fish for some reason. I think it looks really good. And that is the project, by the way that is the project that we're going to create over the course of this chapter. And we're going to learn all about how you use the Pen tool and the Paths palette in order to select and mask images here inside Photoshop.
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