The Sky's the limit with Photoshop and a tablet pad, but whenever I see an advanced photoshop tutorial (usually for compositing), alphas crop up all over the place! Can anyone give me a few filler points on them as to why and how they are used?(Specifically, why I should use alpha channels for texturing hair in maya, which our teacher showed us last week but I've forgotten it entirely and the one tutorial he offers isn't much help either...See I have to texture a head along these lines in two weeks, but I think know alphas in general will advance me several steps in my knowledge of Photoshop and every other editing package)...

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  • The one thing that I use channels for are colour holds... the device that can change B&W linework into another shade so that the objects stand up for certain special effects. I'll give you some examples from my own work.

  • Well, they are really powerful, information channels. They can be set up as masks if you understand how those work and they can also be set up as spot colors. If you are familiar with what spot colors are, this will make more sense. The channels can be set up like layers for outputting separations, if you need to. I used to do this a lot for screen printing t shirts when the art called for a more realistic look. It made it very easy to blend colors together etc.

    You can have an unlimited about of them, not just RGB, CMYK but as many as you want.

    If you have ever saved a selection which is really a mask this will be saved as a channel.

    I am sure there is something on the Adobe Exchange that will explain it better. If you have a specific questions, shoot me an email and I'll see if I can help you figure it out. Lance
    • If I was taught spot colors, I'd forgotten them...Masks I think I see the usefulness to that, but I'd have to find the 'make a mask of this channel' option...and an unlimited amount of transparency data doesn't sound all that useful but I still have to try them out to see...
  • Alpha channels are sort of "Extra data" channels, which store transparency information. A normal image will have red, green and blue channels. The alpha is an extra channel tacked on to tell the program how transparent or opaque each part of the image is.

    • That helps a little...thanksies.
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