Converting Selections into Alpha Channels

JGaulard

Member
Staff member
Now that I've discussed alpha channels on three different occasions, I thought I'd talk about one final method for creating one. This is the method most designers and photographers use and it's an extremely helpful tactic to choose for many different purposes. I'll get to all that below. First though, I'd like to offer you a few different resources to get you caught up on alpha channels in Adobe Photoshop as a whole. If you'd like to read about alpha channels, you can do so here, here and here. Those posts should get you up to speed.

Okay, here's the deal. While working on any graphic, you can make a selection, move into the Channels panel and click on the Save Selection as Channel button down at the bottom of the panel. That's easy and doing this will create a brand new alpha channel that looks just like the selection. This is what we want. Since alpha channels are there to stay for the life of the graphic, you can use that channel over and over again to recreate the selection for various purposes and uses.

A problem arises when you apply layer effects to the original item you selected because if left in its original state, when creating an alpha channel from that object, those layer effects won't be taken into account. All that will be taken into account will be the original selected area, as if there are no layer styles anywhere nearby.

Since most designers want or need those styles taken into account, they use a workaround. Basically, they right-click on the layer that the object is in that they intent to select and convert that layer into a Smart Object. Then, they head into the Channels panel and click the same button as earlier. This takes into account the layer styles and all is good afterwards. The new alpha channel will not only look like the original selection, but the selection with the layer styles applied to it.

I know this is somewhat of a confusing topic to read about if you aren't familiar with alpha channels and even what I just wrote above is somewhat confusing because it's so brief. If you'd like an expanded discussion on this topic, I have one for you. I wrote about alpha channels, selections and smart objects, all in one post. Please stop by to learn a bit more about Photoshop today.

If you have more to add to this discussion about alpha channels and selections, please add it below. If you have questions about all of this, you can ask them below as well. Thanks!
 
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