Creative Image-Making: Layered Color Effect Using Channels in Adobe Photoshop | Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand | Skillshare

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Creative Image-Making: Layered Color Effect Using Channels in Adobe Photoshop

teacher avatar Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand, Graphic Design & Photography

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction & Overview


    • 2.

      Understanding Colour Models


    • 3.

      Colour Channels in Adobe Photoshop


    • 4.

      Manipulating Colour Channels


    • 5.

      Using Halftone Filters with Channels


    • 6.

      Saving & Conclusion


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About This Class

Eye-catching visuals with a layered colour effect are much easier to produce than you might think! They allow you to take any image and create something totally different, bright and dynamic out of it.

I am Evgeniya Righini-Brand and in this class I want to share with you a technique of creating striking visuals from any images by manipulating colour channels in Adobe Photoshop. This approach will allow you to take your work—whether it is a poster or print design, illustration or photography—to a new and exciting level. 

This class covers:

  • the basics behind RGB and CMYK colour models;
  • how the channels work and how to interpret them in Adobe Photoshop;
  • how to use RGB and CMYK colour channels in Adobe Photoshop to produce eye-catching colourful designs;
  • how to use Colour Halftone & Halftone Pattern filters with channels to add a nice retro, pop art or a techno feel to any work.

This class is suitable for pretty much any skill level and covers everything you’ll need to complete this class project. You can complete this class in any version of Photoshop.

I cannot wait to see what you can create, join me in this class and let’s make something awesome!

* Following my previous Photoshop classes is advisable for beginners:

Source & Mix Botanical Illustrations with Typography to Create Trendy Designs
Source & Mix: Digital Collage from Vintage Encyclopaedia Illustrations

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Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand

Graphic Design & Photography

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1. Introduction & Overview: As a designer, I like keeping it simple.I also like to use a limited number of bold colors in my work which trigger emotions and make visual impact. This is Evgeniya from Attitude Creative. In this class I want to share with you a technique of great and striking visuals from any images by manipulating color channels in Adobe Photoshop. This approach will allow you to take your work, whether it is postal or print-design, illustration or photography, to a new and exciting level. In this class, I will explain the basics behind RGB and CMYK color models and how to use RGB and CMYK color channels in Adobe Photoshop to reduce eye-catching, colorful designs. I am also going to show you a few tricks about how to create healthy patterns which can add a nice retro or technique field to your work. I cannot wait to see what you are going to create. Join me in this class and let's make something awesome. 2. Understanding Colour Models: Although there are a number of ways you can achieve LA at color effect, I want to take you back to basics. Reproduction of color images with a print or electronic, deals with separating the image into a set number of primary color channels. There are two color models which utilize this approach. I bet most of you have at least heard of RGB and CMYK. In both models, a wide spectrum of colors comes from a various combinations of the primary colors in each model, which are red, green and blue in RGB and cyan, magenta and yellow in CMYK. RGB color model deals with any projected and reflected light and is based on the way human eye perceives colors from reflected light. With the RGB color model, we start off with a lack of light and hence the absence of color which is perceived as black and which absorbs light and doesn't reflect it. Then by adding red, green, and blue light in different combinations, we get a wide array of colors culminate in white, which comes from the maximum amount of all three RGB colors and reflects the maximum amount of light. RGB is an additive color model and is used in electronic displays such as TVs, computers and smartphones in projector's and in photography. All of these deal with the emission and reflection of light beams, which are added together to make the final color spectrum. Red, green, and blue colors are primary colors in this model. When edited together in pairs, they produce secondary colors, which in this model are cyan, magenta, and yellow. Each of these secondary colors is also a complementary color to the remaining primary color. Cyan is complementary to red, magenta is complementary to green, and the yellow is complimentary to blue. Complementary pairs create the strongest contrast for this particular colors and are sometimes called opposite colors. This is just a useful theory, but to be honest, you don't need that knowledge to complete this class. In comparison to RGB, the CMYK color model is useful for color printing and is subtractive, meaning that we start off with a white background and subtract the reflected light from it by adding ink. CMYK color model uses cyan, magenta and yellow colors, which in this case are primary colors, and one key color, which is usually black. Combining cyan, magenta and yellow in pairs, brings us back to red, green, and blue. Which in together cyan, magenta and yellow in equal proportions creates black. But to save color inks and to produce deeper black tones and saturated or dark colors, black ink is used instead. In both cases, the final colors are produced by superimposing the color channels of the respective color model. Whether it is an electronically on the display by heaven color filters or photographic plates for each color channel, or uses separate screens for printing each color. Since every image can be separated into color channels, this brings us to the point of having not just one image, but dependent on the color model free or for individual images which can be altered separately to achieve the desired effect. These are the basics of the color models and you'll be able to get a full understanding of color channels when you watch the next videos in which I am going to show you how you can utilize all of this in your creative process working in Photoshop. 3. Colour Channels in Adobe Photoshop: At this point, you need to find or create an image, or a few images which you want to use in your project. You can use a lot of different types of images in this class. It can be photographs, illustrations, landed technical drawings, or even topography or calligraphy. Or a combination of any of these if you want. Although it can be pretty much anything, an object or a person against a monotone or even better white background, would be the best and the easiest starting point. Do some research and checkout my Pinterest board channels and halftones to get started. The objective of this class project, is to create an eye catching poster, or less better quality wall art, which you can print out and put it on the wall in your workspace to inspire you to make some cool stuff. Think, make, choose, and get your image files ready. Sort your project files out, and then go and open your file or files in Photoshop. If you're using just one image or you know which image is going to be the main one, resave it separately. I am going to put mine in the Developmental folder, so that my original image is kept unchanged. Now, let's have a look at what we've got in terms of Channels. Make sure that your layers and Channels panels are open. It's not good to Menu window and pick them from the list. On the Layers panel, make sure that all layers are flattened into one layer. To double check this, go to the drop down Menu in the top right corner on the Layers panel and select flattened image. Having a flattened image is crucial, otherwise you won't be able to utilize channels to their full potential. At this point, you might want to even out your background. I have this little bit on the background which I want to cut out. I'm going to use Polygon tool to quickly select this area, and then fill it in with white. If you have a bigger area to cut out, you can do the same, or use any other method of selection or cutting such as Magic Wand, Quick selection tool or Magnetic Lasso tool. If you don't know what to do with these tools, check out my class, Source and Mix Digital Collage from Vintage Encyclopedia Illustrations, where I cover a range of selection cutting tools and techniques available in Photoshop. Now, I'm also going to use the levels adjustment to set the white point so that my background becomes nice and even. I will click in a few different places to remove any artifacts I might still have. Okay this will do. Make sure that after all these manipulations, you have flattened all the layers so that you can use channels properly. Now, you can forget about Layers totally and go to the Channels Panel instead. This is where we're going to be for the rest of the class. On the Channels panel, you can see all the channels put together. This is what is selected when you work with your image normally through the Layers panel. Underneath you have a list of separate Channels for each primary color of the color modal. You can also have here other channels for specific spot colors, or offer channels which control transparency. This is just for your information, and I'm not going to color this subject now. Important thing to remember, is that you need to have only your primary channels, and the composite one here, all of them visible, and nothing else here to be able to save your work in standard JPEG or PNG formats to put them in line. I am using a black and white image, because it is easier to explain, and see what is going on, but it actually doesn't matter, and you can use a color one if you want to. For this part of the class, we will need to have a look at both color models, and then you can choose which one you want to work with or experiment with both if you want to. You can see what Color Mode is used in the file window or tab here. If you need to change the color mode of your image, then go to Menu image, Mode, and select the Color Mode you want to use. Let's start with RGB. You can see that the contents of each channel is represented by a black and white image. As I put in my previous video in RGB color model, black is the absence of color, and white is the combination of all three channels and therefore intensity. In case of RGB channels in Photoshop, black on the channel indicates that there is no color of this channel present, and white means that the color is present. If you're familiar with the layer masks, this is a similar logic. If you don't know how to use layer masks, I suggest you check out my class Source and Mixed Botanical Illustrations with Typography to Create Trend Designs, where I explain the process of working with the layer masks and Photoshop, which can make this a bit more understandable too. But anyway, here are a few basic points about RGB channels. On the Channels Panel, let's hide one of the channels, and let's start with the red. You can see that the preview of the overall image now looks filled with cyan, where it is white, and black, where it is black, on the other two visible channels. As you remember from the previous video, cyan i n RGB color model comes from combining full intensity green and blue. Thus, it means that the white color on the channels represents full intensity of the color. If you look at other pairs, you will see the same. Red and green create yellow, and red and blue make up magenta. Now, make sure that on the tools panel you have a 100 percent of black color set as a foreground color, which would be three zeros in all three RGB channel on the color picker. Make sure that the background color is set to a 100 percent white, with the value of all RGB channels set 255. This will ensure that you will be able to buy a 100 percent color of the channel with white, or to remove it totally with black. You can swap background and foreground colors by pressing the "X" on the keyboard. If you apply any shade gray, you will have a fainter tint of the channel color on the overall image. Make sure all channels are visible and select a channel you want to apply your changes to. Again, let's start with the red one. You can select a channel using a shortcut written here on the right hand side of the channel. Using the rectangular marquee tool, select half of the image. Then fill the selection of the foreground color, which is black by pressing " Alt" "Backspace". You can see the same thing as before. Black removed the color contents of this channel, and now we can only see combination of green and blue. Now, fill in the same selection with the background color set to white by pressing "Command" "Backspace", or "Control" "Backspace" in Windows. Now, the area which is white on all three channels is white. Because the color of the channels reach their maximum intensity there, and the area which is black on the other two channels is colored in red. Because the red channel is the only channel which has got color filling in this area. Do your changes and let's have a look at the other channels. If you feel the half of the green channel with black, you'll get magenta, and if you fill it with white, you'll get green, and do again. Now, if you fill the half of the blue channel was black, you'll get yellow, and if you fill it with white, you'll get blue. All of this demonstrates, that when working with RGB channels include way of having 100 percent whites and blacks, you can see eight colors altogether. White, black, red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, and yellow. This is a good ground for experimentation. Now, let's have a look at the channels in CMYK color mode. When you change to CMYK from RGB, you'll see that now instead of red, green, and blue channels, you have cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Having four channels, some will gives you slightly more flexibility, but due to the print nature of this column modal, the colors appear not as rich and bright. In case of CMYK channels in Photoshop, black or shades of gray on the channel show you the areas where the color is, and white represents the lack of color on this channel. You can quickly work it out by feeling one of the channels was black. This is the opposite to what we have just seen with RGB, and it takes a bit of time to get your head around, but it is also more straightforward visually. Combinations of different channels also create a further range of colors, which have their highest intensity in pairs will result in red, green, and blue. But the appear differently from those in RGB. In my case, because this is not a 100 percent black on this channel, I have faint violet, faint mint green, and the peach color here.Depending on what colors you have in your image, you can create a nice range of very different multi-use and CMYK. The Colors in CMYK will always be subtler than in RGB. That is it as far as color representation on channels in Photoshop is concerned. Now it's time to start experimenting. 4. Manipulating Colour Channels: Since color channels are pretty much like separate images, there are plenty of things we can do with them to create exciting visual effects. For this image, I prefer to use RGB color model, but you decide yourself. Now, let's have a look at what we can do with the channels. The first and the easiest thing is inverting separate channels. To do that, you need to select the channel on the channels panel and either click command I control, I in the Windows, or select the channel, and then click command A control A in a Windows or go to menu, select all, to select all the contents on the channel, and then go to menu image adjustments and select invert. You can do to the whole channel. Or if you select a part of it using one of the marquee or the so tools or any other selection tools for that matter, you can invert a part of the channel. This could make a very nice look. Filling the channel in is something that we have briefly looked at. The important thing here is to remember that if you want to eliminate the contents of the channel, you can't just turn the visibility of it of or to delete it because it won't work correctly when you come to the point of saving your work for web. You rather need to fill the channel with either black if you're working in RGB or white if you are working in CMYK. Other than that, for creative purposes, you can select the whole channel or a part of it as I've just shown and fill it in with white, black, or any shade of gray to colorize your overall image in a certain tind. Using selection and shortcuts is the best way to deal with colorizing. Because if you use Paint Bucket tool, it will fill in an area of the image which it considers being within your set range of colors set here in tolerance. Of course, this also can be used if you like a rough look, but it's not really my cup of tea. A different and the total cool thing is using gradient to fill in the channel. If you set a gradient from white and black or gray to transparency, you will be able to keep a part of your image, but gently blend in some color onto it like this. There are also different types of gradients and I suggest you check them all out and see what you can achieve with them. Normally, I like classic linear and radial gradients. But for this task, I also find extremely useful reflected gradients like that. Also angled gradients can produce some pretty cool results, especially if you use them on a couple of channels. The easiest way to create Elliot color effect from just one image using channels is to select a channel with the marquee tool and moved using the Move tool. This is extremely simple, but it can look really awesome. You can also have a pretty cool effect by upsetting a part of the channel contents by selecting it and moving it separately from the rest. If you select your channel and then activate free transform by pressing Command T, Control T in Windows, or by going to menu edit free transform, you can scale the channel or rotate it. Make sure to hold down shift and drag the corner in and out to scale proportionally. Or hold down Alt and shift to scale proportionately in relation to the center of the selection. To rotate, place your mouse just outside of the selection and holding the mouse button down, rotate your selection. Hold down Shift key to rotate in increments of 15 degrees. As always, click Enter to apply changes and exit Free Transform mode to be able to do other stuff afterwards. You can reflect your channel or a part of it by selecting it and then go into menu edit, transform and selecting flip horizontal or flip vertical. Reflecting dependent on your image and its composition can also really quickly add a nice layered effect and an impression of using multiple images. You can use most of the tools on the tool spell when working with channels, but there can be some differences. For example, if you use the type tool, when you start typing, it will look like that. But this is not what it is going to look like afterwards because this is a quick mosque view. What do you need to worry about wealth typing is setting up the correct typeface and all the settings here because when you select any other tool afterwards, such as moved tool, for example, your text will become rasterized and won't be editable. Instead, you'll get the selection filled in with color set as a foreground color on the tools panel, or any other color, if you apply, it changes on the Character panel. But remember, we're working with the channel and this is going to be in shades of the channels color. Now, if you want to adjust the intensity of the color, while the selection is still active, you can open the Levels adjustment by clicking Command L, Control L in Windows, or by going to the menu image adjustments level and then adjust the output level to your desired intensity and click OK. Remember to access any adjustments this way and do not use adjustments panel because it would create an adjustment layer in your document and we cannot have that to be able to work with the channels the way we want to. You can also use the same selection to feel in other channels with the same text. When you are done with the text selection, deselect it by clicking command D or control D in Windows. The same way as we have just adjusted a part of the image with text, you can select the whole channel and adjust its contrast and brightness using both input and output levels in the levels of Window. If you have some nice graphic brushes or just want to paint in a way some parts of the channel you can also use the brush tool. It will work in an absolutely normal way so set it up and go. I also quite like what can be achieved by using blur, sharpen and a specialist, match though, this can be quite fun. Blurring channels or their parts using one of the blur filters could be also quite interesting visual and could add some depth and dynamic to your work, but don't overdo it. You can copy and paste channels the normal way, but make sure to set the selection first. If you have another image you want to copy channels from, make sure it is in the same color mode and its layers are also flattened. Then select the channel you want to copy command C, Control-C in windows to copy it. Then go back to the image you're working on, select the channel you want to paste it in, and click Command V control V in Windows. Now, all the contents you have pasted is in your file and it has replaced the original content which was there. This is a really cool way of making layered images. Especially, but not necessarily if these images are of the same object like you can see on my research board, because it creates a nice impression of different states and adds a sense of motion to otherwise static image. If all of a sudden while was working, you want to convert from CMYK to RGB or vice-versa, remember that your image is going to be separated into channels based on the work you've done. Hence, channel contents will be different from what you had originally. It could also give you more options for layered colors and the very complex split vision. These are my favorite tools for working with channels which I find the most useful. Of course, there are more things which you can do. If you stumble upon something cool or else experimented, make sure to share your experience. It is always great to see different approaches. Now, we're pretty much there, but there is one more thing I want to share with you in case you want to stylize your work in different retro printing or Tech manner. In the next video, I'm going to show you what you can do with the different types of the half-done patent filters when working with channels. 5. Using Halftone Filters with Channels: Traditionally, halftone is a technique that simulates continuous tone for the use of dots varying in their size or density. This is how full color printing produces images which we perceive as full color. In Photoshop, there are two filters which can simulate this effect. The first one is the hollow halftone filter. This filter provides a more precise way of imitating print halftone out of the two filters I am going to show you. If you want to apply this filter to one of the channels and then select it and then go to many filters, pixelate, go to halftone. In this dialogue window, you need to set up the maximum radius of the dots. Here you cannot go below four pixels because otherwise, halftone won't be possible. Then you need to set the angles for the screens. This comes from CMYK printing where all color screens are placed at a certain angle in relation to each other to create images perceived as being full-color and are the continuous color coverage and without any visual defects. There is a range of standard angles for CMYK screens and they put them in the nodes. But for this class, this is irrelevant because we are not producing full halftone images, but only working with the individual channels. Here you can set values for the angles of four channels and they go in order, cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Even if you're using an RGB, you will still have the same with the first being red, second being green, third being blue, and the fourth being nothing. But when you have only one channel selected, the value of the first screen angle is applied to it. So you can play around with the angle and psi settings to have some nice effects. Keep in mind if you have the whole channel filled with either white or black, nothing will happen because there is nothing to make a halftone out of. So If you want to have a dotted background, set the color to something great depending on the dot size you want. Apply filter, and after that, you can change the intensity of the channel using levels. You can also invert it if that is the look you're going for. You can also set a selection on your channel and apply halftone only to it. The halftone pattern filter, on the other hand, imitates large halftones screen pattern and is situated in the filter gallery. You can use either dots, lines, or circles and adjust size and contrast of the elements. When you use those, this filter produces a very different look. Also, it can imitate the lines on the TV screen or make a vacuum image out of the concentric circles. With this filter, you can also use either the whole image, a separate channel or a part of the hallow image or channel if you select it. There are plenty of opportunities to create some impressive visuals playing around with channels, but all is good in moderation. When working on your project for this class, try out different tools and techniques, but do not feel obliged to use them all at once. Just one of the techniques might be enough to create something amazing. 6. Saving & Conclusion: When you are done working with your file, make sure that you only have the standard channels, such as composite RGB and separate red, green and blue, or they can pull it CMYK and cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Make sure not to have any channels hidden. If you want to hide the contents of the channel, rather fill it in with white or black as I have shown before. Save your work. If you were using CMYK, convert your image to RGB before uploading online. Print your work, and enjoy it. That's it for this class. There was a lot to cover, and this is just an overview of my favorite techniques, but it is more than enough to get you started working with channels, and making something experimental and exciting. I hope you've enjoyed this class and learned something new. If you like this class, please leave a review so more people could discover it. I will be very excited to see your experiments and final whole art. We'll still work in the project section for this class, and if you are going to show you work on Instagram, please tag attitudeskills, so that I can see it there too. If you have any questions, leave a comment on the community board for this class, and I'll happily answer and provide feedback. Thank you for enrolling in this class, and I hope to see you in my other classes.