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Channels and How to Use it in Photoshop

Understanding Channels and How to Use it in Photoshop

As a graphic designer in learning, Photoshop is most likely to be your first choice of graphic design software. There are various things this program can do with abundant features you can choose from. One of them is called channels, which we will discuss briefly here. Today, we will explain what channels are and how you can use it in your Photoshop. Read on.

What are channels? The answer is actually so simple. In general, it is like any normal Photoshop channel that stores the color information of Photoshop documents you are opening in the form of layers. If the RGB mode is what you have selected, then the channel panel will show four channels: RGB, red, green, and blue. However, if you choose the CMYK mode, then the panel shows five channels: CMYK, cyan, magenta, green, and black. To access and then open your channel panel, click Window and choose Channel.

Composite Channel

This is one of the channels in Photoshop, but it is basically not one. Rather, this one shows the combination of all channels that are present in the channel panel. Composite Channel will stay at the top of the layer panel. If you work on RGB mode, then it is renamed as RGB. The same happens if you work on CMYK color mode as the panel will be renamed as CMYK.

Color Channel

This channels stores and contains the color information of a particular channel. For instance, red channel contains the information of the color present in the document you are working on and the scale is between 0 and 255. Meanwhile, the white area represents the amount of said color present. Note that the brighter or whiter area means the one with more color compared to the relatively darker one.

If you move to the green channel, the darker area means the one contains less amount of this color compared to the one that looks brighter. The same also happens to the blue channel.

For example, in a photograph of a person standing outdoors in a sunny day with blue sky, the skin will show how it contains more red and the sky looks completely white as it mainly appears to be blue.

Alpha Channel

When you do a selection using any tools such as marquee tool or lasso tool, the area you select will be saved in Alpha Channel temporarily. One of channels in Photoshop here can also save you a lot of time, as we can call it a lifesaving channel as well. You can activate it simply by clicking on “load channel as selection’ that will load the one you have selected before.

If the selection has been saved, you can see too the selection as an alpha channel. Assume that if you wish to save the selection, select the area of the document you are currently working on using any selection tool, and then go to Select and Save Selection.

Load Channel as Selection

You can click on “load channel as selection” by activating any color channels first. For example, if you load the red channel only, you will see the marching ants representing the selection of red color. The selection can also be loaded as you are pressing and then holding Ctrl or Cmd button, and then draw your cursor to click on the thumbnail for the layer of the red channel.

Save Channel as Selection

Any active selection present in the document you are working on can be saved as channels with prefix “alpha” by clicking on the “save channel as selection” button.

Creating New Channel

To create a new channel, simply select one and drag and drop it to the “create a new channel” button. This way, the channel will be duplicated, helping you a lot in editing. But if you create a new channel, Photoshop will immediately fill the channel with black. Duplicating the channel can also be done by choosing Panel Menu then Duplicate Channel.


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