November SIG Notes

You can view these notes online at and also download them as a pdf.

What are we doing this month in November?

  1. Feedback forms
  2. Demonstrations using Selections, masks and channels
  3. Monthly Photoshop Challenge

Hello everyone!

The November meeting is a look at different ways in which you can use selection tools, masks and channels in Photoshop.

Please remember that you can find these in colour and with a bit more information on the Photoshop SIG website.

Time for some feedback!

What do we do over the next months?  Here is a table that  shows different topics from a Photoshop training website. Please choose six of these that you would like to be discussed in the months ahead. Label them from 1 to 6 with 1 being the most important to you.

If there are some topics listed as being covered already, please select them if you want them presented again.

Feedback 4Introduction
We have previously discussed using selection, masks and channels in Photoshop. This month I would like to show you a few different examples of how they can be used together.

You have heard of the belief that you do not need to know how to repair a car to be able to drive it. This applies to using channels in Photoshop. You do not have to understand the theory to be able to use channels as another tool from your Photoshop tool shed!

Example 1 – Using the gradient tool with a mask to alter the appearance of an image

We want to get an effect like this. There is a change from the grey colours to the brighter colours in the background layer. Please do not ask me why you would want to do such a thing!

(1) Open an image of your choice.
(2) Duplicate the image by using Control + J.
(3) While staying on the new layer, click on Image/Adjustment/Desaturate.
(4) Click on the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel.

Add layer mask

(5) Press G to open the Gradient tool.
(6) Pick one of the presets.

gradient presets

(7) Click and drag with your mouse from the top of the image down to the bottom of the image.

Have a play with drawing at other angles and from bottom to top, side to side, and perhaps only to the middle. Try it with different presets to see what effects you can create.

This is almost another whole session on using the gradient tool for different effects.

(8) Voilà! There you have it!
(9) Now have a play with the gradient tool and see what effects that you can create yourself.

Further information can be found here:


During the last few months I have been trying hard to find a logical set of steps that I can follow to give me a great result every time that I use Photoshop to improve one of my photos.

I realise now why there are so many tutorials on so many different things to do with Photoshop. It’s because there is no one set of rules to follow. All that I can do is become more familiar with Photoshop by using it every day and trying one thing at a time.

I can hardly wait for next year to get started with animation, drawing and painting with Photoshop .

So, there is no end point for me. Just an enjoyable journey that challenges me every day to learn and try new things. I hope that you find yourself on a similar Photoshop journey.

Example 2 – Using the channel mixer tool with a mask to alter the appearance of an image

For this demonstration I want to combine the channel mixer, a mask for painting with white and black, and the layers opacity and blending modes. It is another way to play with Photoshop, be creative, and have a bit of fun. all at the same time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(1) Open up one of your photos and do the usual of duplicating it, renaming the copy and doing a Save As to a folder on your computer where you can easily find it again.
(2) If you want to make adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), then close the duplicate image and reopen it in ACR.

BOTHER! Must remember to save every five minutes. Use it or lose it. I just lost it.

(3) Open the Channels panel and look at the red, green and blue  channels to find the one with the most detail. In this photo, the red channel has the most detail.

Demo 2 Channels Panel
(4) From the icons at the bottom of the layers panel, click on Create new fill or adjustment layer/Channel mixer.

demo 2 flowers Before

(5) Here is what the channel Mixer Dialogue box looks like in CS6. Tick the monochrome box. Then use the sliders to improve the contrast in each of the channels.

demo 2 Channel Mixer Dialogue Box


(6) Go to the Layers panel, and make sure that the  Mixer layer is the active layer.
(7) Click on the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel.

Demo 2 Add layer mask

(8) Looks like this?

Demo 2 layer mask added

(9) Now we are going to paint on the mask using white (white reveals) and black (black reveals).
(10) Set the foreground colour to black by pressing D, followed by X. Did you get this?

Demo 2 - foregound colour is black.

(11) We’re ready to rock and roll. Press B to open the brush tool. You know what to do next.
(12) I’m attempting to paint part of the image using the rule of thirds. I added some guidelines by dragging down and across from the rulers.
(13) Merrily I paint away, paint away, paint away! Till I have this. Da Dah.

WIP flower show and channel Mixer for November SIG

Want more info? Watch the video.

Example 3 – complex masking to select part of an image (like all the branches and leaves on a tree)

One of the most requested tasks in Photoshop is to be able to select part of an image and  then copy it onto another one. For example, you might have a shot of some spectacular fireworks to move to another image. Or you might have a portrait with a lot of flying hair.

Using masks and channels gives you several ways to make the selection and be able to include all the fine detail. Here’s a photo that I want to try and replace the dull sky.

The following guide is from the psdbox website (

Here is the image that I will be using.

(1) Open up a nice leafy photo of your own, or download the one that is shown here.
(2) Duplicate the image  (Control + J).
(3) Rename the new layer “Branches.”
(4) Click on the Channels tab.
(5) Click on each channel to see which has the most contrast. My choice is the blue channel.
(6) With the Blue channel selected, click on Image/Calculations. It should come up like this.

Demo 3 - image-calculations

(7) Click on OK.
(8) You have created an Alpha channel.  Want more info?

(9) We need to create even more contrast in the alpha channel. We need it to be as black and white as possible.
(10) With the alpha channel selected, click on Image/Calculations again.
(11) Set the blending mode this time to Overlay.
(12) Click on OK. This will make the whites whiter and the blacks blacker. Kinda like the old laundry detergent advertisements.
(13) Now Press Control +L to bring up the levels window.
(14) Move the sliders so that it looks a bit like the figure below.

Demo 3 - levels window

(15) Click OK.
(16) Use the shortcut Control + I to invert the selection in the alpha 2 channel.
(17) Press and hold Ctrl and click the Alpha 2 thumbnail when the cursor changes to a hand under a square selection icon. That will load a selection around the branches like you see in the screenshot below. What you cannot see is the wiggling effect of al the marching ants in the selection.

Demo 3 - alpha channel inverted and selected.

(18) Now go back and click on the Layers panel tab.
(19) Now click on the branches layer to make it active.
(20) Next click on Layer/Layer Mask/Reveal Selection. VOILA!
(21) You are ready to copy the layer and paste it into another image to create your own composite. Well done!

This month has been a challenge getting used to so many different combinations of using selections, channels and masks to make changes to images.

This is such a broad subject  to try and cover. But the good news is that you can Google just about anything in Photoshop and find information as a video, podcast or as a pdf.  The more that you look at a topic, the more tangents you find to investigate as well.

December PS/PE Challenge
Use some of the techniques presented today to edit a couple of your favourite photos. Include a description of the steps that you followed to get from start to finish.

Category 1 – Using the gradient tool with a mask to alter the appearance of an image

Category 2 – Using the channel mixer tool with a mask to alter the appearance of an image

Category 3 – complex masking to select part of an image (like all the branches and leaves on a tree)

Please send your  before and after jpg image/s  to me at (



About woldham

Concise! Retired and loving it!
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