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Alpha Channels and Transparency

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John Orban
Alpha Channels and Transparency
on May 18, 2010 at 1:10:14 pm

I don't know if this is possible, because I can't seem to do it in Photoshop, so maybe I can figure out a way to do it in Zaxwerks before I get it to Photoshop.

I took our school logo and made it a 3D logo much like the "Skyliners" tutorial I saw in the last newsletter.

Because it looked so good, I wanted to make a wallpaper out of it by taking the logo and putting it on a gradient background of the school colors.

Well, I can "Render Frame" and from the frame, save a file. Unfortunately, my only options are PICT, Targa and JPEG. Of course, JPEG doesn't have an Alpha channel and PICT and Targa, while they have Alpha Channels, don't support transparency? (At least that's what the Adobe guy said.)

It would be nice if Zaxwerks supported PNG for those saved frames, but maybe I'm the only person who does stuff like that?

Anyhow, is there some way to save the rendered frame with a transparent background?

All I want to do is "lift" the logo off the frame I've rendered and drop it on a different background. I can't believe there isn't some easy way to do that.

Creating a layer mask in Photoshop and copying the Alpha Channel to it (as suggested by the Adobe guy) doesn't seem to work, or I'm just too stupid to figure out how to do that.) It would be easier if Zaxwerks just supported PNG.

Or is there some reason why you don't. That's a pretty common file format, no???

Thanks,
John


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John Orban
Re: Alpha Channels and Transparency
on May 18, 2010 at 2:33:39 pm

OK, figured it out...I guess you don't need to support PNG.

I guess idiots like me aren't intended to use software because I swear, some of the "tutorials" out there do NOT make freaking sense. It took me 2 hours to "interpret" this statement:

"add a layer mask, copy the alpha channel into the layer mask, delete the alpha channel"

Since the original document comes into Photoshop as a locked layer, you FIRST have to unlock the layer (thanks to an English dude who taught me the simple double click on the layer trick from his website).

Then you can create the layer mask.

However, if you don't turn on visibility of the layer mask in the "Channels" tab, you can paste all day long and nothing happens. Took me 1 1/2 hours to figure THAT out.

Anyhow...in the Channels tab, select the "Alpha 1" channel by clicking on it. Command "A" then selects the layer so you can paste it.

Turn on visibility of the "Layer 0 Mask" (your Layer mask) - then PASTE INTO that layer what you copied out of the Alpha 1 channel. As soon as you do that, the RGB channels all turn transparent.

You can now move the Alpha 1 channel to the trash can.

Sheesh!


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Edward Wu
Re: Alpha Channels and Transparency
on May 18, 2010 at 10:35:07 pm

Hi John,

You don't really need to use Layer Masks.

One way to get a transparent background is to load the image into Photoshop, then go into the Channels panel. Then, click on the "Alpha 1" layer, and click on the "Load Channel as a Selection" button. This will get a selection of your object. Once you have the selection, turn off the visibility of Alpha 1, and select the "RGB" channel again. Go back into the "Layers" panel again. Then, go to the "Select" menu and choose the option "Inverse". This will create a selection for everything but your object. Then, with the selection, you can delete the background and get the transparency.

Best,
Edward


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John Orban
Re: Alpha Channels and Transparency
on May 23, 2010 at 4:25:24 pm

Yep that works too! Actually that's pretty easy and VERY lucidly explained - something I need to get through my thick head. Thank you for your help!

John


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