The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3, Pt. 1 | 3 | WebReference

The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3, Pt. 1 | 3

The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3, Pt. 1.

Create the Blue Component

29. Hide the Green layer by clicking its visibility toggle.

30. Activate the Background layer, duplicate it, and name the new layer Blue.

31. Make a fill layer (Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color). The Color Picker dialog box appears. Set the color to blue (R = 0, G = 0, B = 255). Click OK. The whole image will be blue.

32. Set the layer mode to Multiply to reveal the blue light component. Click OK. The layers should look like the graphic pictured here.

33. Merge the layers (Layer > Merge Down).

34. Duplicate the Blue layer (Layer > Duplicate).

35. Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer with these settings: Hue: +120, Saturation 0, Lightness, 0. This changes the color of the layer to red.

36. Merge the layers by choosing Layer > Merge Down (Command/Ctrl+E).

37. Set the current layer mode to Screen.

38. Duplicate the Blue Copy layer.

39. Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation) with these settings: Hue: +120, Saturation: 0, Lightness: 0. This changes the color of the layer to green.

40. Merge the layers by choosing Merge Down. The layers should look like this graphic.

41. Activate the Blue layer; then link the Blue, Blue Copy, and Blue Copy 2 layers.

42. Merge the layers by choosing Layer > Merge Linked. Your layers palette should look like the next graphic.

You have separated the image into three channels, one for each of the primary light components: red, green, and blue. These components can be looked at as a source for making conversion to black-and-white, as well as a source for learning about the nature of light and RGB theory. These are exactly the same components you would get using the Channels palette in Photoshop. Save this image by a different name so you can find it later.

Take a moment to examine the layers representing the separate light components by viewing them individually. Note the qualitative differences between the red, green, and blue channels. The representations reveal specific qualities about light in each spectrum.

Figure 2.1 These images were created using the separation steps in the previous procedure. Note that the green looks the most like what you might expect as a grayscale conversion.

Figure 2.1 shows an image of an orange flower against a green background separated into its components. (See the color representation of this flower in the color section).

Now that you have seen the separation, you can accomplish the same set of 42 steps in a single click. Just go to the Hidden Power tools on the Styles and Effects palette, open any RGB image, and click the Split RGB in the PowerSeparations category of Effects. This will execute the steps for you. Splitting RGB should be done on a flattened RGB image—results with images that are not flattened may be somewhat unpredictable and can generate errors.

If you haven't installed the Hidden Power tools, you can find the tools on the CD and instructions for installing them in the Introduction to this book (see "The Hidden Power Tools" in the Introduction). Supplementary information on installing and troubleshooting can be found on the website and the Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements forums at

Separation is a key concept for grasping everything that follows in the book—it isn't just a neat parlor trick. It is a lossless process based on light theory—lossless in that it won't do any damage to your images. If you can navigate the steps but don't really understand what each is doing, deeper understanding will come, either as you proceed through the book or as you repeat the exercise and learn the process.

Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: November 30, 2004