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Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals is the introductory installment of Deke McClelland's four-part series on making photorealistic compositions in Photoshop. The course shows how to make selections, refine the selections with masks, and then combine them in new ways, using layer effects, blend modes, and other techniques to create a single seamless piece of artwork. Deke introduces the Channels panel and the alpha channel, the key to masking and transparency in Photoshop; reviews the selection tools, including the Color Range tool , Quick Mask mode, and the Refine Edge command; and shows how to blend masked images so they interact naturally.
As most of you know Photoshop provides a Layers panel which is where you create and modify layers. Photoshop also offers a Masks panel, so you might naturally think that's where you create and modify masks, not so. In fact, the Masks panel is nothing more than a set of minor support options that we won't visit until Chapter 9. You create and modify masks in the Channels panel. Why? Because masks are channels, let me explain. Photoshop is in its hard a grayscale image editor.
So rather than seeing a full-color image the way you and I do, Photoshop sees no fewer than three grayscale images working together, but ultimately unique. The fact that Photoshop blends the images on-the-fly to produce a full-color composite is strictly a favor to you. These grayscale images are called Channels. Imagine a river of full-color information one that Photoshop separates into its component parts. The red light goes down the red stream, the green light down the green stream, and the blue light down the blue stream these streams are the channels.
A Mask is a specific variety of channel, rather than conveying information about the color of the image it conveys selection or transparency. After saving a selection as a mask you can bring the entire weight of Photoshop to bear on making the selection as accurate as it needs to be down to isolating individual strands of hair and that's just the beginning. Coming the terms with masking is perhaps the most surefire way to boost the quality of your work in Photoshop.
This chapter is all about channels, the next chapter is all about masks, you can't have one without the other. Welcome friends to where it all begins.
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