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HOW TO: Create Alpha Channels for your plug-in images.

Posted: Sat, 15th Jun 2002, 9:26pm

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Axeman

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Rating: +13

This is just a basic tutorial explaining alpha channels and how the work in your plug-ins. Hopefully it will help more of you to create your own plug-ins once you know how. It will be based oin Photoshop, since that is what I have, but the basic process should be similar in other image-editing apps.

The images you begin with must be RGB images. This means that there are three channels in the image, which contain all the color data in your image: Red, Green, and Blue. These are the primary colors of light, which your monitor can mix together to create every other color, shade or hue. Some image formats (such as the TIFF format, which is the format recommended for plug-in images) will also support additional channels, called Alpha Channels. Alpha channels are shown in greyscale. An alpha channel acts as a mask for your image, where it is black, the image is masked out (you can't see it), where it is white, the image shows through. Where it is grey, the image will be shown semi-transparent; the darker the grey, the more transparent the image will be. This is how you can take an image of an object (say, a spaceship), and create a plug-in where only the ship appears.

First of all, you must select the ship. If you have a solid-colored background (black works well), you can do this by using the Select > Color Range command, and clicking in the black background, and then Select > Select Inverse. If you prefer, you can use any other means you want of selecting your ship, but this is a quick and easy way.

Next, you must create your Alpha channel. In the channels palette of photoshop, there are a series of small buttons along the bottom. One of them has a rectangle with a circle inside. Click it, and you are done. An alpha channel is added, masking out everything that is not selected; in this case, everything but the ship. This method works well if your object has hard edges. If the edges are soft, or feathered, however, try this method.

After you have selected your object, create a new alpha channel by clicking the New Channel button in the Channels palette. (It has a page with a bent corner on it) This will give you a new channel filled entirely with black. With your Object still selected, get a paintbrush and paint your selection white.

I'll try to add to this in the future, so if you need anything else explained, let me know.

Last edited Sun, 6th Oct 2002, 9:53pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Sun, 16th Jun 2002, 1:58pm

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Hobbes

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Very good Axeman. You'll get some points for this one biggrin
Posted: Thu, 3rd Oct 2002, 10:53pm

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Axeman

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Just thought I'd bump this up. As more and more people are creating plug-ins now, I thought some of you might find it useful.
Posted: Thu, 3rd Oct 2002, 11:01pm

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Sollthar

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Good Job Axeman... Nice Tutorial.

Points for you! smile
Posted: Thu, 3rd Oct 2002, 11:11pm

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DarkJedi07

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EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKK!
*Screams like a girl even more*
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!

AHH. Help. That did not help me at all. I do not have Photoshop, but I do have Paint Shop pro... When I do what you say in PSP, and I save it, it says that due to the limitations in the file, no Alpha Channles will be saved. Would you like to continue?

I don't know what to do.... Can you please help me? Thanks. Bye.
Posted: Thu, 3rd Oct 2002, 11:16pm

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Sollthar

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lol... oops... Axeman... thats all your fault... biggrin
Posted: Fri, 4th Oct 2002, 7:50am

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moebius

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Darkjedi, you have to select a file format that allows you to save alpha channels i.e. 32 bit as opposed to 24 bit information. AlamDV2 prefers the TIFF format, so I'd go with that.
Posted: Fri, 4th Oct 2002, 9:00am

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malone

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DarkJedi: Ive also written a alpha tute specifically for PSP. It doesnt really explain what an alpha channel is like Axemans does, but it should be enough for you to get by

http://malone.fxhome.com/pspalphatute/pspalphatute.html

Last edited Fri, 19th Dec 2003, 2:00pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Fri, 4th Oct 2002, 11:37am

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DarkJedi07

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Thanks. I'm checking it out now, although I may already know how to do it. And if it works, a +3 for me! (I mean it. If i get these plug-ins online, I am getting a plus 3 by someone)
Posted: Thu, 17th Oct 2002, 9:14pm

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ada1989

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i m new on this redface , please help me, i have Photoshop 6 and i have follow all the thing you said and it seen work but what should i do to make it into a plug-in. neutral
Posted: Fri, 18th Oct 2002, 1:43am

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wpl

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If you r just doing a still image then............save it as a tiff, put it in a folder all by itself and make the plug-in with the plugger


Make it with one layer, one variation, put it as an over lay thing and POOF you have it!

I mean you have made an animated plug-in that is harder then this
Posted: Fri, 18th Oct 2002, 5:18am

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Axeman

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ada1989, in the tutorials forum there is a tutorial written specifically for the Plugger on how to turn your images into a plug-in. The tutorial goes into some depth, but don't let it scare you off, most of the options it discusses are very, very rarely used. The far majority of plug-ins are really easy to build.

I should do a Basic Plug-in Starter Tutorial, huh?
Posted: Fri, 18th Oct 2002, 8:05am

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ada1989

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I,m finish, WiRyPoCkEtLiNt i never try this method so i dont know, if you dont know the thing, you still dont know and the PROVE IS WHEN YOU DOWNLOAD MY PLUG-IN, IS THERE ANY ADA THING, anyway thanks you guys. cool
Posted: Fri, 18th Oct 2002, 8:10am

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ada1989

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oh, I FORGOT, how can i create an animated image with alpha channel like Battle Droid Walking Plug-in, it is animated and it can be transparent and did i need to create all the image to alpha, please help me. cry
Posted: Fri, 18th Oct 2002, 12:58pm

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wpl

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brake the avi into a filmstrip and create an alpha for each frame then put it into the plugger

read the plugger manual it is very good it helped me alot
Posted: Fri, 18th Oct 2002, 4:42pm

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ada1989

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Thanx. wink
Posted: Fri, 18th Oct 2002, 7:35pm

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davlin

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Well done "axeman"..a good tut....appreciated by many I'm sure.
The Phantom Force has woken...
Posted: Thu, 31st Oct 2002, 3:09am

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Robersdee

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The Paint Shop Pro Tutorial link is dead sad Could someone point me in the direction of a link that works?? O just give a quick explanation of how to get transparencies in PSP. I also have Photoshop Elements, if that works any better.

Thanks for any help

Fett
Posted: Fri, 15th Nov 2002, 11:42pm

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no_hole

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nice tute smile
Posted: Fri, 19th Dec 2003, 1:50pm

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Brettsta

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is there a "FILMSTRIP" mode in psp?
Posted: Fri, 19th Dec 2003, 4:32pm

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wpl

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what do you mean?

You can export footage to a filmstrip from premiere. Then open the filmstrip in PS. Then after you are done deiting it you can put it back into premiere.
Posted: Fri, 19th Dec 2003, 10:38pm

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Axeman

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Brettsta wrote:

is there a "FILMSTRIP" mode in psp?
No, there is no filmstrip in Paintshop Pro. Filmstrip is a proprietary format of Adobe, so you have to have Premiere or After Effects to convert the footage to Filmstrip, which you can then edit in Photoshop.

I am not familiar with Paintshop Pro, so it may have another way to handle video footage though. I know in Corel PhotoPaint you can open a movie directly into it, and then edit it one frame at a time, just moving from one frame ot the next.
Posted: Fri, 19th Dec 2003, 11:28pm

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wpl

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Oh I miss understood. I thought you said PS
Posted: Fri, 19th Dec 2003, 11:40pm

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TAP2

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Axeman, just thought I'd let you know how much I appreciate that tutorial you did for me.

Now I can use photoshop to apply advanced effects, such as depth of field to my movies with batching and image sequences biggrin
Posted: Sat, 20th Dec 2003, 4:46am

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Axeman

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I'm glad it was helpful. cool
Posted: Sun, 4th Jan 2004, 5:28pm

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Brettsta

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Where is the channels palatte in Photoshop elements?
Posted: Sun, 4th Jan 2004, 7:56pm

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Axeman

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Unfortunately, I don't think there is one. Elements is designed for adjusting, modifying, and printing photos, not really for graphics work. So some useful features like this have gone missing.

There are a couple of methods for simulating alpha channels, which you can find here, but I don't think either one will help in creating plug-ins. I'll try look around a bit more to see what I can find, and maybe get a demo of Elements to play with.
Posted: Mon, 5th Jan 2004, 12:21am

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Axeman

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Yeah, I did some more looking, and there is no proper way to do Alpha channels in Elements. Sorry. Normally I don't like recommending that people buy other software to solve their problems, 'cause some (most) people can't afford to just go about buying software, but in this case I will. There is a shareware app available for Mac called GraphicConverter that does allow you to create Alpha channels. I am not very familiar with the particulars of the software, but I do know that it allows you to do alpha work. I also have the software (GraphicConverter), so if you want to give it a shot, I can give you a hand figuring things out if you have difficulties.
Posted: Wed, 19th May 2004, 12:13pm

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Sarkilas

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Wow! It works! Thanks Axeman!