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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."
In this exercise, I am going to you show the expert's approach to Red Eye. This is what you do when all else fails essentially. We are looking at this image that's called In a perfect world.psd found inside the 13 Channel Mix folder. So called because in a perfect world, this technique would have worked. We would have just been able to apply this Channel Mixer layer right here, and that would have taken care of our problem. But, we have got some more work to go, and as you may recall, this is a photograph that either I or my wife shot using a run-of-the-mill point and shoot camera of my beautiful children here.
But, they have got incredibly red eyes that we have begun to fix using this Channel Mixer layer, but we need to do some additional work. The next step is to Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on this layer mask Thumbnail right here. In order to load the selection outlines, we are going to have to correct Sammy and Max independently because they have different problems. Each of their eyes have different problems, partially due to the degree of focus that's associated with each of the children. Sammy is largely out of focus. He is blurry and in the background here, whereas Max is much more sharply focused. So I have zoomed-in on Sammy. I am going to just go ahead and switch over to the Rectangular Marquee tool, and I am going to Shift+Alt+Drag or Shift+Option+Drag around the pupils like so, around Sammy's eyes, leaving a large area around there, so that I am completely enclosing the blurry edges of these pupils.
I will go ahead and release the Mouse button. Once again, I had both the Shift and Alt keys down here on the PC or the Shift and Option keys down on the Mac, and what that did is it just kept Sammy's eyes selected. Max's eyes are no longer selected as you can see. All right. So anyway, let's go back to Sammy here. I am going to add basically a dummy layer, a dummy adjustment layer that we are then going to set to the Multiply Blend mode in order to just use the image to darken itself. I will show you what I mean. I am going to go ahead and press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac, click the Black/White icon down here, and I am going to choose any old command really will do us, just about any command. Any command that you can leave neutral.
But, I typically use the Brightness/Contrast command because it's one of the less effective, although definitely enhanced inside of Photoshop CS3. It's still only a slightly effective command, and so it's not the kind of thing I use as an adjustment layer very often. So I am able to recognize them as dummy layers very easily, also it's a simple dialog box. So I will go ahead and choose that command, and I will set this to Sam because we are modifying Sam's eyes here, and I will click OK. Don't make any kind of change to Brightness/Contrast. It's just not necessary at this point. Just go ahead and click OK. As I say, it's just a dummy layer, it's just placeholder.
And we are going to set it to the Multiply Blend mode. Now, what you are doing, when you just have a dummy layer like this, Dummy adjustment layer and you set it to a blend mode, it acts as if you are using the image on itself. So it's taking on the characteristics of the entire composition and then whatever blend mode you assign, gets applied to that composition onto itself, without needing to actually duplicate the entire image. So we have a very small image still because we are just adding a few bytes to the image size. So anyway, we are multiplying this dummy layer into the pupils.
That takes care of the problem, sure enough. But, it also gets rid of the highlights inside of Sammy's eyes. I think we have gone too far with this effect. So I am going to double-click on the layer. Now, it's important where you double-click. When we want to enter the Layer Properties dialog box, which is where I am going to adjust the Luminance sliders, remember those guys, so that we can reveal the highlights here. If I were to double-click on the icon, on the thumbnail, I would bring up the Brightness/Contrast dialog box again. If I were to double-click on the layer mask, then I would bring up the layer mask Display options which I don't want. If I double-click on the name, I would rename the layer. That's no good. I want to double-click over here on an empty portion on right hand side of the layer in order to bring up the big old massive Layer Style dialog box, there it is.
I am going to move the White point in this Layer Slider down to about 145, so that I am revealing the highlights. Then, I will Alt+Drag or Option+Drag the left half of this White Slider down to 15 in order to ensure that we have a nice soft transition over which to expose colors inside of the eyes. Actually, that looks pretty darn good I think, and I will go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification. We could even back off this effect further. I can press the 5 key in order to reduce the Opacity value to 50% in order to get a natural effect, because the pupils don't necessarily have to be lighter than the irises.
We think that's a way we typically see pupils and that's the way we anticipate that they should look. But, if you really take a close look at pupil and the photographs as well, you will see that the pupils are sometimes lighter than the irises and it's OK to leave them that way because of the way that our eyes are reflecting the light and so on. So anyway, I think this results in a very natural effect. This is Sammy's eyes originally, and this is his eyes, thanks to these two adjustment layers we have created. So it looks much, much better. Max is a little tougher, which is why we are going to fix Max's eyes. Stay tunned.
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