Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Loading an alpha channel, part of Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
- View Offline
This time I've saved my progress as Second liquification.psd, so called of course, because we have two layers of liquified imagery available to us. Now, the second layer has a black layer mask assigned to it, and that layer mask is active. I've clicked on it to highlight this thumbnail right there, which is very important because now we're going to paint inside of it. The fact that it's black means that everything on this layer is transparent. If we were to paint with white, we would paint the layer in.
And I'm going to do that using the Brush tool right here. And you can get to the Brush tool as you can get to all tools inside of Photoshop, by pressing an alphabetic key. And in this case, it's B for Brush. You don't have to press Ctrl+B or Shift+B or anything like that, just the B key by itself, gets you the Brush tool, like so. I've gone ahead and established a large, fairly hard brush. So let me show you how to do that. You go up to the Options bar- and by the way, in case for some reason you didn't get the Brush, I should just tell you this.
You got the Pencil tool or the Color Replacement tool or the Mixer Brush tool. Then you click and hold on this second icon in this second group here, and then you go ahead and choose the Brush tool from the flyout menu. All right. Now I'm going to go up to the Options bar. Notice this little down pointing arrowhead right there, pretty close to the outset of the Options bar, click on it. And then increase your Size value, if you're following along with me, to 150 pixels and your Hardness to 80% as I have it here, which will give us a fairly hard edged brush, is the idea as opposed to a Blurry Brush.
And then press the Enter key, maybe a couple of times in order to hide that dropdown panel. Now drop down to the bottom of the toolbox, and you'll see your foreground and background colors respectively. Foreground in front, background at back, these would be these fairly large swatches right here. Mine are set to black and white by default, but in case yours aren't, here's what I want you to do. Just click on this tiny little icon. That's the Default Foreground and Background Colors icon, give it a click or press the keyboard shortcut, which is D for default.
And then you'll be ready to paint with white inside Photoshop. Now I'm going to go ahead and zoom in, and I want to paint this area into place. So as I was saying, painting with white will paint in opacity inside of a layer mask, but you got to make sure that layer mask is active right there. Don't have the image active. If you do, you'll just paint white all over the image. All right. Now I'm going to paint down across the bridge of her nose just like this, and notice I painted some of her nose into place by doing that.
And if I feel like I went too far with my modification as I did, because I reveal too much of the eye in the background, then I would swap my foreground and background colors and paint with black instead. So notice, there's this little Switch icon right there. I want you to click on it to switch to Foreground and Background colors, or you can press the X key, and that will make the foreground color black. And then you can do this number in order to paint the eye back into place. Now you'll gain all kinds of experience with masking and layer masking inside of this series.
Just to make sure you and I get exactly the same results, I want you to load a mask that I've created in advance. So I'm going to zoom out from this image a couple of clicks, by pressing Ctrl+Minus, by the way, or Command+Minus on the Mac. And I'm going to switch away from the Brush tool, just so that I don't harm the image in any way by accidentally painting on it. I'm going to switch back to the Rectangular Marquee tool right here, which is a great default tool. You get to it by pressing the M key for Marquee. Notice that it displays a little cross cursor, very unobtrusive.
It's easy to see the image in the background. All right. Now I want you to move over to the layer mask right there. and I want you to right-click on that layer mask thumbnail. And if you don't have a right mouse button, on the Mac you press the Control key and click, but I would hope you have some sort of right button mechanism at your disposal. And then choose Delete layer Mask. So whenever you right-click on an image, or a thumbnail, or something along those lines inside Photoshop, you get this shortcut menu of popular options, essentially. And then in this case, we'll choose Delete Layer Mask, so it goes away.
We're going to add a new layer Mask. I've already created for you in advance. I've created it inside the Channels panel. So click on Channels to switch to it. Now Channels are fairly complicated. The idea is that you have a channel for Red, Green, and Blue luminance information. They're all blending together to create the full color RGB image. We're not concerned with that right now. We'll visit that topic in a later chapter. But for now, I want you to notice that we have a bunch of items down here that are not selected. Starting with brow & nose, and then we've got deep mask, and hair, cyan paint, and white paint.
These are all alpha channels that house masks that I've created in advance inside Photoshop. Now alpha channels are a pretty advanced topic. However, they're not hard to use if you just stumble across a bunch as in the case of this image. I'm going to click on brow & nose. Notice that we have this white sort of blurry X set against a black background. And wherever we're seeing white, that would be the nose that we keep. That would be the opaque area of the layer. And wherever we see black, that's the stuff we're tossing away.
That would be the transparent portion of the layer. And we're going to load that on up very easily by going back to the RGB image, click on Layers once again, to switch to the Layers panel. Make sure brow & nose is selected, very important. And then go up to the Select menu and choose the Load Selection command. Now I want to make sure that my Document is set to Second liquification, which is the name of this particular image. And then I would switch my Channel from brow & nose Transparency to just brow & nose.
So brow & nose Transparency indicates the transparency that's at work for the brow & nose layer. That entire layer is opaque, so that wouldn't do us any good. Then we drop down to the actual alpha channels, one of which coincidentally happens to have the same name as our layer, brow & nose. So go ahead and click on it to select it. And then make sure the Invert check box is off and click OK. And notice you'll see the selection outline on your screen that is tracing the white area inside of the alpha channel.
And it's conveying all of that information in this marching ants style selection outlines. So we call these marching ants, because they will look like little marching ants onscreen. All right. Now with brow & nose selected, I'm going to drop down to the bottom of the Layers palette, and I'm going to click on Add layer mask. Not Option-click not Alt-click, just click on it. And that goes ahead and loads up that selection outline as a layer mask. So we just took the contents of the alpha channel and transported them into this layer mask right there.
And you can see now that we've done a great job of merging this brow with the eyes. So this is what things look like. Let's go and zoom in by pressing Ctrl+Plus a couple of times, Command+Plus on the Mac. If I press the Shift key and click on this layer Mask thumbnail, I go ahead and turn it off for the moment. So this is what the image looked like without that mask. You can see an X through it right here. If I Shift+Click again, this is what the effect looks like with the mask. So that we're cutting through the brow & nose layer to see the liquify eyes layer below, and we're getting the best of what these two layers have to offer.
In the next exercise, we're going to select this girl's skin, so that we can paint it blue.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
- Assembling photorealistic compositions
- Understanding image size and resolution
- Correcting the brightness and color of images
- Creating accurate selection outlines
- Retouching and healing photos
- Mastering layers and effects
- Printing and exporting to the web