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The final color mode: CMYK

From: Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals

Video: The final color mode: CMYK

In this exercise, I'll introduce you to the final color mode that's available to you inside Photoshop, which is CMYK. Now those letters CMYK stand for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. The four so-called process color inks, which are the standards for commercial printing. And the reason I bring up CMYK in the first place is because one of the most common questions I get when I'm showing folks how to mask images is can I work in CMYK? Because between you and me I personally do 99% of my work in RGB, I do a little work occasionally in lab, and I do exactly 0 in CMYK.

The final color mode: CMYK

In this exercise, I'll introduce you to the final color mode that's available to you inside Photoshop, which is CMYK. Now those letters CMYK stand for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. The four so-called process color inks, which are the standards for commercial printing. And the reason I bring up CMYK in the first place is because one of the most common questions I get when I'm showing folks how to mask images is can I work in CMYK? Because between you and me I personally do 99% of my work in RGB, I do a little work occasionally in lab, and I do exactly 0 in CMYK.

And I'm about to show you why? And over time I'll show you tips and tricks for grabbing mask from an RGB image, but I want you to understand why masking from CMYK is generally a bad idea. I've gone ahead and saved my most recent version of that original composition as Crazy RGB colors.psd. I'm going to go ahead and turn off that Vibrance layer, because we don't need it, and then I'll go out to the Image menu choose mode and choose CMYK Color. Now notice I didn't duplicate the image this time.

If I was really making a conversion that I cared about, I definitely would, because converting from RGB to CMYK is about the most destructive color conversion imaginable. So you definitely would not want to save over your original RGB image, but I've already created an alternate version of the image that we'll be using throughout this exercise. I'm just demonstrating how you get there for now. So you choose CMYK color Photoshop tells you that it's going to throw away the adjustment layers. I'm going to say OK, because there is really no advantage for flattening this image.

It's not going to look any better, for example,. So I'll click OK to move on then Photoshop tells me hey, you're going to convert to the CMYK profile that you established in the color settings dialog box, which by default here in the States is U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2. Well, that's just fine by me, so I'll click OK. Notice how dramatically those color shifted. So this is before, now this is brightly saturated greens, those red shades of violet and blue in the background, and this is after, with these dramatically diminished colors, as a result of our conversion.

Well, that's just the way it is with CMYK, of all the color modes we've seen, CMYK has the smallest gamut. Meaning that it's capable of representing the smallest group of colors. But in addition to converting our background photograph, I also went and converted the color swatches, which is why I've created an alternate version of the image here, it's called The CMYK toucan.psd and you'll notice that the swatches look different. In particular, we'll go ahead and select this Magenta swatch. Check out what the magenta swatch looks like when we converted from RGB to CMYK.

It looks pretty purplish, and then here is my modified version of that magenta swatch rendered in true CMYK magenta. Just so that you have a sense of what's going on. All right now I'm going to go ahead and switch over to the Channels panel, notice that we have a CMYK composite view of the image at the top of the stack, and then we have our independent color channels, one each for the printing plates, that is the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black plates that are necessary to reproduce the full-color image. Let's go ahead and see those channels and color by pressing Ctrl+K Command+K on the Mac to bring up the Preferences dialog box.

I'll switch to Interface; I'll turn on Show Channels in Color and click OK. Now you can see what these colors look like. The assumption is that you'll be printing the white paper, so the brightest color is white and the darkest color is the color of the ink, in this case Cyan. If we move to Magenta, the brightest colors is white, the darkest color is the ink Magenta. Same with Yellow, and bare in mind that yellow is the color complement to RGB's blue, and so not surprisingly, it's very difficult to make out what's going on inside this channel when it's depicted in color.

And then finally we have Black, which is the stabilizing ingredient that holds down the shadows inside the image. All right, I'm going to go ahead and return to the Cyan channel for a moment here, so that I can show you that I've set up the same image using layers, just as I did for the RGB demo, and that demo file is called CMYK revealed.psd. I'll go ahead and switch over to the Layers panel, and then I'll turn on the Magenta layer, click on it, and this time as opposed to choosing the Lighten mode, as we did when working inside that RGB demo, I'll choose the Darken mode.

Because after all each channel darkens the others. So I'm going to choose darken and that creates a mixture of the Magenta and Cyan inks. Now I'll click on Yellow, turn it on, change it to Darken as well, and now you have a sense of what all the channels look like before we add black. And finally, I'll click on the Black layer, turn it on and change its blend mode to Darken as well, and we get that full-color CMYK depiction of the image. And notice now, if I switch back to the authentic CMYK version of the image, switch back to the Channels panel, and click on CMYK, that I get the same result.

So there is the demo file and here is the actual CMYK image with all four channels intact. So I just want to give you the sense that the channels are darkening each other as opposed to lightning each other, the way we saw with RGB. Here is the problem though; I'll press Ctrl+K or Command+K on the Mac to once again bring up the Preferences dialog box. Click on Interface, turn off Show Channels in Color, click OK. Let's take a look at those various versions of the image, they're all bad, is the problem.

There is the Cyan version of the image, there is Magenta, there is Yellow, I might be able to mask this particular image with some success using that Yellow channel, but it's still in pretty bad shape, some very jagged transitions that we don't see in RGB. And then finally the Black channel is as usual, utterly useless to us. So just trying to give you a sense, it's a bit of an exaggeration to say that you absolutely can't mask in CMYK, but you're better off doing so in RGB.

And what I generally do, when I'm working with the CMYK image is I'll go ahead and Duplicate that image and then after I get done creating the duplicate, I'll convert the image to RGB. It won't look any better. You're not going to restore the lackluster colors, but you will be working in the RGB mode and those channels will be in much better shape. I might as well go ahead and show that to you. In fact, I'll go ahead and flatten this version of the image, so we can see, here is the Red version of the image, here is the Green version, and here is the Blue all unique and recognizable depictions of that full-color Toucan and they would all be useful for creating the mask.

And by virtue of the fact that you had a duplicate file that was in RGB, you could create your masks and transfer them over to the CMYK version of the image and then apply those masks as desired. And as I say, we'll be seeing how that works in future chapters. All right, so that's how things work in CMYK. In the next exercise, I'll introduce you to a mode that's not even a color mode, called multichannel.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals
Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals

128 video lessons · 29618 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
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  1. 15m 25s
    1. Welcome
      1m 12s
    2. Loading my custom dekeKeys shortcuts
      3m 45s
    3. Adjusting the color settings
      4m 29s
    4. Setting up a power workspace
      5m 59s
  2. 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. 44m 27s
    1. The alpha channel is home to the mask
      1m 40s
    2. The origins of the alpha channel
      3m 40s
    3. How a mask works
      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
    7. Loading a selection from a channel
      4m 7s
    8. Putting a mask into play
      3m 55s
    9. Loading a selection from a layer
      4m 27s
    10. Loading a selection from another image
      4m 36s
  4. 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
    4. Painting inside a mask
      6m 3s
    5. Cleaning up and confirming
      5m 18s
    6. Combining masks
      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
    11. Introducing clipping masks
      5m 29s
    12. Unclipping and masking a shadow
      3m 50s
  5. 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. 1h 11m
    1. Selections reign supreme
      55s
    2. Introducing "selection calculations"
      4m 19s
    3. Combining two different tools
      7m 29s
    4. Selections and transparency masks
      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
    12. Adding volumetric shadows and highlights
      6m 54s
    13. Converting an image into a mask
      4m 42s
  7. 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
    13. Masking and compositing your rainbow
      4m 46s
  8. 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. 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
    8. Blending differently masked layers
      7m 0s
    9. Creating a hair-only mask
      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
    17. Masking and compositing light
      7m 39s
    18. Introducing a brilliant light source
      7m 5s
  10. 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
    5. The Masks panel's bad options
      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
    13. Masking glass
      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. 1m 17s
    1. Next steps
      1m 17s

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