Join Chris Meyer for an in-depth discussion in this video Photoshop and alpha channels, part of After Effects: 2015 Creative Cloud Updates.
- Let's go through a typical use case, where you, or more likely, another user in Photoshop who you're sharing a folder with, can move assets from their copy of Photoshop to your copy of After Effects. I'll open up the Libraries Panel. And there you'll already see it has my color swatches and other graphics that I've already loaded, in addition to my other libraries, including my watch parts. Let's go ahead and create a new library. I'm gonna call this bike parts, Create. In a collaborative environment, user who is creating these assets would then share that folder with me, just like I showed you in the prior movie.
Now all they have to do is grab their asset, drag it into that folder. There you see it. I can go ahead and rename it bike frame, switch to After Effects, change the folder to bike parts, and there is my bike frame. Again, you cannot drag it directly into your Comp Panel. You need to import it into your project before you can then use it in a composition. But here is where an important gotcha comes up. Let me turn off this shape here I created in the prior movie.
Let's drag our bike frame into our composition. And let's turn on the Transparency Grid to look at it. It's on a black solid background and it doesn't have an Alpha Channel. That's not gonna be very useful to me. This is about the time that a really angry call happens between you and the freelancer. Well, here's what's going on. I'm gonna switch back to Photoshop. This bike frame does indeed have an Alpha Channel. But the problem was, is that it's kinda old school. It was saved as a background with an Alpha, rather than as a layer with a Selection Mask already built in.
To convert this, to a layer, what you or the other user needs to do is hold down Command or Mac, or Control on Windows, click on that Alpha Channel to load it as a Selection, go back to the Layers Tab, and you can do one of two things. One, you can copy this, Command or Control+C, create a New Layer. We'll call this bike frame with alpha. And then paste into that. I'll turn off the background.
There's my bike frame with alpha. I'm gonna delete this old bike frame that was in that shared folder, and instead, drag this one over into Libraries. Notice I did have the one with the alpha selected, not the background. There will be a pause while this gets transferred between the Creative Cloud Accounts. Notice that I'm re-syncing my Libraries. Happens automatically. And after it's finally downloaded, here is my new bike frame with alpha. Now I'll drag it into my Project Panel.
Notice now I see millions of colors plus with a straight Alpha. Much better. Drag it into my project, and there it is, ahh, at last with a nice clean Alpha Channel behind it. Great. By the way, the shortcut inside Photoshop to do this, and I'll go ahead and delete this previous layer. So go ahead again, and select your background, go to Channels, Command or Control+click on the Alpha to load the selection, go back to Layers, with that background selected with the selection active, type Command+J on Mac, Control+J on Window.
And that automatically perform the copy and paste to create a new layer with your bike with the selection. Command or Control+J is the shortcut. You can always copy from your background layer with selection loaded, and paste into a brand new layer. Finally, I wanna give a quick taste on how you would go ahead and create a new color. I'm gonna use the Eyedropper to pick a color from this bike, such as this camel orange right here. You see that is active. I'll go ahead and say add that color as part of this bike parts folder. I'll flip back to After Effects, and there it is already, ready for me to go ahead and use, for example, with my shape layers.
I'll press F2 to deselect any layer, click my fill color, click its Eyedropper, and now I've got that color loaded into After Effects, ready to use for graphics. So that's a quick case study of using Photoshop. In the next movie, I'll show you a little bit about using Libraries with Illustrator.
Check back often for updates. New chapters will be added each time Adobe releases a major After Effects update.
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