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Learn how to create alpha channel in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
Tags:adobe,adobe photoshop cs3,alpha channel,channels,images,masking,photoshop,total training
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So now that we have taken a look at different color modes and how their channels work here inside of Photoshop. Let's take a look at another type of channel one that you would create yourself, and that's called an Alpha Channel. I am going to go ahead and I am going to switch back to the RGB Mode. I am just going to do that by choosing Image > Mode and selecting RGB. And what we are going to do is we are going to take a look at an Alpha Channel that I already have created here. I am just going to click on that like so, and so this is an Alpha Channel.
An Alpha Channel essentially is a channel that you create on your own and basically you use a basis of one of these other channels here to create one for masking or you can just create a blank one yourself and then use that as a mask as well. However, for this particular channel here I have already masked this out and as you can see it's actually entitled Mask there inside of the Channels Panel. And if you hit Command+4 on your keyboard, you will automatically access this. So each time you create a new channel it automatically associates a new keyboard shortcut for you. And rather than going to the long and boring history of exactly what an Alpha Channel is and how it was created let's just talk about why you would want to use an Alpha Channel.
So when you are working inside of Photoshop and you have difficult objects that you want to select, objects that have really fine edges like hair or if you are trying to select things like string or different things that are really small inside of an image, like maybe this edge of this graduation cap right here, you would need to use a very sophisticated mask. And by using an Alpha Channel you have the ability to create really complex masks that you can edit on the fly and it actually give you a great amount of flexibility when you are working here inside of Photoshop. So, Alpha Channels are essentially just channels that you create on your own which are very helpful when utilizing them in masking and different situations and things like that. So, it's really not that complicated of a subject, lot of people try to make Alpha channels really complicated and things like that, but they are really not.
All you have to do, if I wanted to create another Alpha Channel here inside of the Channels Panel what I could do essentially is just take one of these channels that you see here and I could go ahead and just drag that down here and duplicate it, like so. So, now I have a Blue copy Channel here. And I am just going to go ahead and rename this by double-clicking on the name and I will just call this Alpha. Go ahead and hit Enter to commit to that change and there you see it changed the name for me.
And so once you have the ability to do here is utilize this channel to create complex masking so that if you wanted to silhouette this lady from the background here you would be able to do so simply by dragging that down and creating a new channel based on your Blue Channel.
We are going to go a little bit more in depth on channel masking and how to utilize these Alpha channels and how to pick the correct channel when masking later on in the Channel Masking Chapter.
For now I am going to go ahead and I am just going to trash that away because we don't really need that for right now, and I am going to show you another way to create an Alpha Channel here inside of Photoshop that is to come up here to the fly-down menu inside of the Channels Panel and go ahead and select New Channel.
Now when you do that you have the ability to name this channel whatever you want. So for instance, if I just wanted to call this Alpha instead of Alpha 1, I will just delete the 1.
You can go ahead and say that the color indicates the masked area or the selected areas, and so that's just going to give you an indication of the color in this channel what it's going to represent. So I am just going to leave this on Masked Areas here. For the color of this channel I will go ahead and just leave it as Red and the Opacity of 50%. I will go ahead and then click OK.
And so now what we have is this blank Alpha Channel that we have created down here inside of the Channels Panel here, and if I turn it on, you are going to notice that it automatically gives me this sort of rubylift overlay which is something you are going to see a lot more, especially when we are working with the Quick Mask Mode, we are going to learn a lot more about Quick Mask Mode in the Selections Chapter. So we are not going to worry about that right now. But, what you have the ability to do now is paint on this particular layer to create a mask here inside your image.