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Basic Plug-in tutorial

Posted: Mon, 11th Nov 2002, 5:32am

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Axeman

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Rating: +9

Basic Plug-in Tutorial.

This tutorial is designed for plug-ins with only the following specifications:

    One layer
    Objects (ships, planes, swords, cars, tanks, whatever)
    As many variations as you would like (up to 16)
    Still frames or animations, but each variation must have the same number of frames.

It is in two sections, the first section is for creating the images in Photoshop and preparing them for building the plug-in. I use Photoshop 7.0 because that is what I have, although other image editors should be capable of the same results. The second section for creating the actual plug-in in Plugger. Section 2 can actually be used to build any single layer, alpha channel based plug-in, even if it is not an object-based effect.

SECTION 1: Creating the images for your plug-in
1) If you have created the image(s) for your plug-in in a 3D application, you should be able to render them as a TIFF with an alpha channel, and skip to SECTION 2. If you are using photos of your object, or 3D renders without alpha channels, continue to step 2.

2) Open your image in Photoshop. Select your object, using whichever selection tool you prefer.

3) Once you have it selected, open the Channels palette. This is where you will create a new alpha channel. At the bottom of the palette, there is a toolbar with a trash can and several buttons. Click on the Save Selection as Channel button. It looks like a shaded rectangle with a white circle in it.

4) Choose File > Save As... and save your image as a tiff if it isn’t already. Give it whatever name you like. (If you have several variations, numbering them is a good idea. If your plug-in will be animated, number them 01, 02, 03,... 10,11,12, etc. If there are more than 100 frames, number them 001, 002...021,022...100, 101,etc.)

5) Repeat steps 2 through 4 for each other image of each variation.

After you have created Alpha channels for each image, you must organize them in preparation for creating the plug-in.

6) Create a New Folder on your desktop, and name it New Plug-ins. (you can actually name it whatever you like, and put it wherever you like on your computer, but if you use these settings it will be easier to follow along with the tutorial.)

7) Inside the New Plug-ins folder, create a folder for each variation of your plug-in, and number them (variation 01, variation 02, etc.). Place the image(s) for each variation into their corresponding folder.

cool Choose one image to be the Background Title Image of you plug-in. This will become the picture behind the name of your plug-in when it is completed. Remember or write down the location of this image.

If the plug-in is animated, select one image from each variation to be the Preview Icon for its respective variation.
If the plug-in is all still images, each image will become its own Preview Icon.

You are now ready to move on to SECTION 2 and create your plug-in.

SECTION 2: Building the Plug-in
1) Open Plugger, and click the New button. You will see the Effect Information... screen with several blank fields.

2)Fill in the fields appropriately.

    Number of Layers: 1
    Number of Variations: However many you have
    Effect Name: Select a name for your plug-in. It must be alphanumeric (only letters or numbers, no symbols and no spaces. If you need a space, use _). It must be at least 3 letters long.
    Effect Maker: Your name goes here. (again, alphanumeric)
    Web Site: If you have one, type the address here.

There are also two check boxes below the fields.
The effect animation a loop?
If your plug-in is still frames, you will want to loop it. Click in the box. If your plug-in is animated, only click the box if the animation is loopable.
Change start resolution?
Don’t click the box

3) Click on the Define Layers button.

4) If you clicked the Loop check box in the Effects Information... screen you will now see the Loop Length pop-up window. Type 30. Click OK.

5) You will now get another pop-up window. Read it and click OK. In the next window, Select the Background Title Image you chose in SECTION 1, Step 8. Click Open.

6) You will now see the Attribute Names pop-up window. Leave both fields blank and click OK.

7) You will now see the Effect Script pop-up window. Leave all 5 fields blank and click OK.

cool Now you get the Layer Ink pop-up window. From the menu, select Overlay Ink, and click OK.

9) At the next pop-up window, read it and click OK.

10) The next window is where you select the image for your Variation 1 Preview Icon. It should be here: Desktop > New Plug-ins > Variation 01 > image 01. Click Open.

11) Read the pop-up and click OK.

12)Select the folder containing the image(s) for variation 1. Desktop > New Plug-ins > Variation 1. Click Choose.

Repeat steps 9 through 12 for each variation of your plug-in.

13) When you have completed all variations, you will see the Help Text pop-up window. Click OK. You will return to the main Plugger Window.

14) Click the Assemble button. Read the pop-up and click OK.

15) Select the folder where you would like Plugger to place your completed plug-in. Click Choose. Now plugger kicks in and builds the plug-in out of all your pieces. When it is finished, you will see the New button in the lower left corner of the Plugger window. Your plug-in is now complete. Quit Plugger, load your plug-in in AlamDV2, and try it out. biggrin

biggrin smile sad eek confused cool lol mad razz redface cry evil rolleyes wink unsure tard oink neutral twisted crazy surprised

Let me know if this helps you guys who want to start creating your own plug-ins. Do I need to simplify it more? Explain what you are actually doin a little better? Or is it good? Should I do similar tutorials for different types of effects?
Posted: Mon, 11th Nov 2002, 12:47pm

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billy3d

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i'v got photoshop7 but i cant see a proper white color within the program!
what do i do?
This makes me stick to photoshop6 sad
Posted: Tue, 12th Nov 2002, 8:29am

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Axeman

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Sounds like you need to adjust your color profile. I'm not really sure how you go about doing that in windows (I'm running a Mac), but if you chech your Photoshop manual it should help. Look up Color Profiles in the index.
Posted: Sat, 7th Dec 2002, 10:39pm

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spookbuster2

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Thank you so much for writin all that! It helps a lot, my first plugin is pathetic, but hopefully, now that i know what to do, i'll make better ones! lol
Posted: Sat, 7th Dec 2002, 10:46pm

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ada1989

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Goodluck man, if u need anyhelp on the pluger u can PM me or ask some alse or i can show u step by step at the chat channel

Goodluck biggrin and oh, dont forget to share it with us, hehehe biggrin
Posted: Sat, 7th Dec 2002, 10:53pm

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ada1989

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and hey, u are new here, welcome lol
Posted: Sun, 8th Dec 2002, 12:11am

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Axeman

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biggrin You are welcome, and I am glad the tutorial was helpful. cool
Posted: Thu, 9th Jan 2003, 12:56am

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spookbuster2

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i can get my plugin right, its just when i zip it, its complicated!!! please help me out! i want to be able to do plugins!
Posted: Thu, 9th Jan 2003, 1:13am

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av11d

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huh. zipping? Just install Winzip, then right click on the plugin folder and click "Add to [foldername].zip"

www.winzip.com
Posted: Sat, 25th Jan 2003, 10:08pm

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Robersdee

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Im still having trouble getting it to work in Paint Shop Pro. I can make trasperancies and all, but can't get them to ever work in the plu-in itself.
Could someone point me to, or explain how to get this to work??
I know there was a tutorial link, but thats been dead for a long time sad

Any help would be appreciated.

-Fett
Posted: Sun, 9th Feb 2003, 10:52am

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DW Peters

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Very useful! Just what I was looking for...
Posted: Sun, 9th Mar 2003, 1:34pm

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angelo panetta

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I have a smokey dust plugin I downloaded from the site, but it dosen't have a trasparency slider. How can I add one?

angelo
Posted: Mon, 10th Mar 2003, 1:17am

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Axeman

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Angelo- plug-ins only have a transparency slider if the images have alpha channels. So for any plug-in that does not have a transparency slider, you would have to add alpha channels to the images and re-build the plug-in accordingly to add the option.

The 'quick-fix' round about way to adjust transparency is to put a mask over the effect, and adjust the transparency of the mask. (If you put a mask over it at 80% transparency, the result will be 20% transparency on the effect.)
Posted: Fri, 11th Jul 2003, 1:09pm

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metsaen

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my bloodplugin contains some pictures with blak bakrground just like the lightsaberplugin but how do i make the black Color transparent
Posted: Fri, 11th Jul 2003, 1:13pm

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SenseLess_Productions

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Just use an alpha-channel. Your question was already answered above:

3) Once you have it selected, open the Channels palette. This is where you will create a new alpha channel. At the bottom of the palette, there is a toolbar with a trash can and several buttons. Click on the Save Selection as Channel button. It looks like a shaded rectangle with a white circle in it.
Posted: Fri, 11th Jul 2003, 11:19pm

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4036Douglas

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please simplify it... i have no idea how to do this... tard -me
Posted: Sun, 31st Aug 2003, 10:25am

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Thelema

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I recently manufactured a pluggin from an animation sequence in Bryce5.The Object does one full rotation in one second.When I produce the pluggin using enough renders to complete one full rotation it moves far to fast to link up with my original CG.I used all the settings in your Basic tutorial.The question is how do I slow down the pluggin speed to match my original CG?
Posted: Sun, 14th Dec 2003, 2:51pm

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TAP2

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Is there any easy way to create 200 TGA files to 200 Tiff files with Alpha Channels and ordered names - eg 001 002 003 etc
Posted: Sun, 14th Dec 2003, 6:39pm

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Axeman

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Yes there is. In Photoshop, you can create an Action to convert the file format, then apply it to all your images using the Batch Process command found at File > Automate > Batch...

Or if you have GraphicConverter, you can do it quite easily in there as well.
Posted: Sun, 14th Dec 2003, 7:49pm

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TAP2

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DAMN IT, I wish I knew that 3 hours ago biggrin

Cheers
Posted: Mon, 15th Dec 2003, 4:45pm

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TAP2

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OK - This god damn batch thing is seriously rising my blood pressure now biggrin

I have a folder full of alpha channeled .TGA images.
I want the batch thing to convert them all to alpha channeled .TIF images.

However, it keeps coming up with errors - things like 'You must specify a source file'.
I've tried everything and I'm on the point of lobbing my screen against the wall tard

Can you give me a step by step guide on how to do this process biggrin
Posted: Mon, 15th Dec 2003, 9:01pm

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Axeman

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Yes I can. Just give me a few minutes and I'll have it for you.
Posted: Mon, 15th Dec 2003, 9:17pm

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TAP2

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tick tock tick tock biggrin
Posted: Mon, 15th Dec 2003, 9:26pm

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Axeman

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OK, here's the process for batch converting a bunch of images in Photoshop.

1: Open one of the images. From the Actions palette, create a new action, give it an appropriate name, and place it in whatever actions set you prefer. (you do this with the little triangle in the top right corner of the palette)

2: You might already have this part, but in case you don't know how to create an action (and for the benefit of any others who might want to try this), Press the Record button in the actions palette. Select File > Save As... and change the image type to whatever you want (TIFF in this case). You might also want to create a new folder to save the TIFF versions into. After it is saved, close the image. Then hit the stop button in the Actions palette.

3: Now that you have the action saved, go find the new file you just created and delete it. (It will help the batch process run smoother to do all of them at once).

4: In Photoshop, select File > Automate > Batch...

5: In the Play section, Select the Set and Action that you just created.

In the Source section, click Choose and navigate to the folder containing your original images.

In the Destination section, select Folder from the Destination drop-down menu, then click Choose and select the destination folder for your processed images (where you want the TIFF files).

Hopefully your images are numbered sequentially already. (If no, that is a job for Photoshop's File Browser). But in case you need to change the numbers, you can use the File Naming section to set the images to save with whatever name you want. (Example: where it says Document Name, you could select 3 Digit Serial Number)

6: Once you have everything set, click OK, and let it do its thing. It will take a bit of time, so go grab yourself a cookie while you wait. Then Open your destination folder, and check out your beautiful new TIFF files.

Let me know how it goes.
Posted: Mon, 15th Dec 2003, 9:33pm

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TAP2

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Ok, save this...

I PROMISE THAT WHEN I BUY ALAMDV I'LL GIVE YOU 5+ biggrin

Cheers, that is REALLY helpful. I'm just going through it now...
Posted: Mon, 15th Dec 2003, 9:38pm

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TAP2

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IT WORKS biggrin

We have another genious in the forums biggrin
I reccomend you post this as a new post and make it a sticky.
Posted: Mon, 15th Dec 2003, 9:41pm

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Axeman

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Glad it worked for you. I hope you ate the cookie, 'cause that's the most important part.

And we may not have another genious (genius), but at least we have someone who read their Photoshop manual. smile
Posted: Mon, 15th Dec 2003, 9:58pm

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TAP2

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redface (clicks edit button)

There's one problem. It all works fine, but I'm end up with 140 TIF images totalling a huge 150mb!!

If I click on LZW compression in PS, it comes up with an error message saying... 'Programme Error, Cannot Save'

Also, PS seems to be creating a line in the Alpha Channels of the exported TIFF images?
EDIT : Don't worry about that, came up with a way to get round it. biggrin
Posted: Mon, 15th Dec 2003, 10:52pm

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Axeman

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Yep, TIFF files are enormous. Quality has its price. biggrin

I've never seen that error message, though, so I'm not sure what's up with that. Try using the LZW on an unrelated image, just to see if you always get that message or if it has to do with the action.
Posted: Mon, 15th Dec 2003, 10:59pm

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TAP2

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It's nothing to do with the action, it does it no matter what I do.

As I said everything works, but I don't think people want plugins that are 120mb each biggrin
Posted: Tue, 16th Dec 2003, 7:00am

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Axeman

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Yeah, in cases like that you might need to modify your images to reduce size. Make sure any unnecessary space is cropped off the image edges, then you might reduce the size if you have enough resolution. You can create an action to change the image sizes in a batch as well. The other option is to make a sequence of plugins out of it.

The maximum size for a plugin submission is 50 MB, so you will have to get you size under that. (but that is after the file is zipped, so zip it first to see how much size you lose).
Posted: Tue, 16th Dec 2003, 10:59am

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TAP2

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It's 26MB zipped...

All i'm saying is... is it normal to submit plugins that are this big?
It is a 620*476, 130 frame explosion I'm talking about.

Thanks for your help...
Posted: Tue, 16th Dec 2003, 7:43pm

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Axeman

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26 MB is not too bad. It is not uncommon for some plugins to reach that size. Obviously, if you can get it smaller it is better for everyone, but not if you have to lose quality to do it.

Do the images in your explosion have alpha channels? Or are you using Add Pin to remove the BG? Because if you don't have alpha channels, and you really want to reduce the size, you can go with JPEG images, and save all kinds of space.
Posted: Tue, 16th Dec 2003, 7:58pm

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TAP2

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Wait a minute, so I can have JPGS with clear backgrounds to use in the plugins?

OK - If I selected 'ALPHA CHANNEL' in a 3d app, it renders a series of TGAs with transparent RGB backgrounds BUT NO Alpha Channels.
So can PLUGGER support image types with simply clear backgrounds?

I've been using your tutorial to add alpha channels to my images so far.
Posted: Sat, 17th Jul 2004, 9:19pm

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Thechess

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I'm using Fireworks MX as my image editor, can I create plugins with images in .png format?
Posted: Tue, 20th Jul 2004, 1:04am

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Axeman

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PNG images will support alpha channels, so you should be able to build plug-ins with them. I have never tried it personally, though. Give it a shot, and if it doesn't work, just convert the images to TIFF format and build the plug-in from them. I'm pretty sure PNG format is supported, though.
Posted: Thu, 12th Aug 2004, 10:59am

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no mercy

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First off, thank you greatly, just made my first pluggin, and i hope to make many more and submit them to the site
Posted: Fri, 27th Aug 2004, 6:15pm

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Klut

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Cant belive why I didn't use adobe in the first place, I was just trying to do it in paint shop pro. Thanks Axeman.
Posted: Sun, 31st Oct 2004, 4:30pm

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fertesz

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I was trying to create TIFF's with PSP, but every time it merges it, so it has aparrently no alpha channel or anything neutral
If I didn't miss anything - I have to create images with transparent parts, right? How do I do it in PSP?

EDIT:

Damn, sorry guys, I didn't noticed a topic covering this redface redface redface

I'm going to read it now, sorry again redface
Posted: Sat, 16th Apr 2005, 5:58pm

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be56

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Alright I need some help. I go to photoshop 7.0 and open my image(my image has a black background) Then i click on Select> Color Range. After that the pop up window shows up. and i click on invert then i click on OK. Now my image has dotted lines around it and then i click on Save Selection as Channel. Then in the channel box a thing shows up saying "Alpha 1". I click on it and it fills in my dotted lined selection white, and the background is still black. Then I click FILE > SAVE AS. I change the format to TIFF. and then I click below it, the alpha channel check box. Then I click SAVE.

so heres the problem.....
after it saves...when i click on the saved image on my desktop(i saved it to my desktop) it is still the same picture with the same black background. And when i do all the plugger stuff i try to open it in Alamdv2 and it says "Script Error" and it doesnt work.

So am i doing something wrong or am i forgetting to do something or do i just have the worst luck ever?!!!

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
Posted: Sun, 17th Apr 2005, 12:13am

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JoelM

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Be56, try this:

1. Open your image into Photoshop.

2. Select the Magic Eraser Tool.

3. Be sure Anti-Aliased is checked. (Adjust the Magic Eraser Tools's Tolerance if needed - I had it set at 50)

4. Click the background with your Magic Eraser Tool.

5. Click Select > Load Selection (Be sure that Invert has no check beside it) and click OK.

6. Now create an Alpha channel on your Channels pallet.

7. Now just click File > Save As...

8. Name it and save it as a .TIF file.

This method is easier to do than the color range method, and the results looks just as good if not better.