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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.
Photoshop's other great masking automation tool is every bit as good as Color Range. It also lives under the Select menu and it goes by the name Refine Edge. Take a crude selection, something that just vaguely traces the edges of an image element and then choose the Refine Edge command. Its first right edge detection technology hunts down the most fragile of details and selects them. Just so you don't get confused this one command goes by two names. When applied to a selection outline it's called Refine Edge.
When applied to a layer mask it's Refine Mask. Choose either and Photoshop presents you with what might be Adobe's best approximation of mind reading automation. That is to say it takes a rough selection and turns it into the thing that you wanted in the first place. So let's review. The Quick Selection tool is not quick, the Magnetic Lasso is only slightly magnetic, and the Magic Wand, well, hardly, but Refine Edge is real bona- fide refinement.
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