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Coloured Reliefs with Masks
Created by: Doro Sensen

When playing around with masks, you can come across nice and unexpected effects. Here's one that I found; it turns an image into sort of a coloured relief.
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To follow this tutorial, please download this file [yes, a photo of my little canary Tweetje again ;-)].
Open a new file with the dimensions of your photo:
– Width = 242
– Height = 280
– Background = white
– Image type = 16.7 Million Colors
Open "/tutorial/html/tuteff/Tweetje.jpg" from your download and go to Edit || Copy (Ctrl+C). Click on your new (white) image to make it the active image again, and go to Edit || Paste || As New Layer (Ctrl+L) to paste it as a new layer over your white background layer.
Now go to Colors || Split Channel || Split to RGB. You'll get three greyscale pictures that represent the Red, Green and Blue Channels of your image, named for the colours "Red#" (top left), "Green#" (top right), and "Blue#" (bottom). It depends on the number of your photo image which number is written behind the "Red", "Green" and "Blue" of your channel pictures.

Minimize the three channel pictures so that they don't bother us when we continue our work on the photo.

Now we'll create a mask from one of the channel pictures. Since we want to set the focus on Tweetje we'll take one where Tweetje is bright – remember that white in a mask lets the image shine through, black takes it away and greys blend over.

Click on the photo image to make it the active window again, then go to Masks || New || From Image:
– Source Window: Green#
– Create mask from: Source luminance = selected
– Invert mask data = unchecked

Your image will now look like on the left.

PSP 6: In your layer palette, you'll see a little mask to the left of the little glasses for that layer which indicates that there's a mask applied to that layer.

Now go to Selections || Select All, then, pressing the Shift key, move your photo layer 6 pixels up and 6 pixels to the left with the arrow keys (pressing an arrow key once is moving the layer for one pixel). Don't be shocked when your photo looks "normal" again while moving. As soon as you deselect by right-clicking into your image or with Ctrl+D (Selections || Select None) it looks like the image on the left.

Nice effect, isn't it? The trick seems to be that only the photo, but not the mask is moved. To me, it looks like a relief with a bit of colour on it.

To get rid of the white at the right and bottom edge, double-click on the Crop Tool in your tool palette to open the "Crop Area" dialog box:
– Select opaque area – current layer = selected

PSP 5: Click on the "Crop Image" button in your Control palette. Now there's only the photo part of your image left.

PSP 6: Click on the "Crop Image" button in your Tool Options palette. Now there's only the photo part of your image left.

Play around a bit with the different channel images to get different effects with your masks. With some channel masks, you won't get the 3D effect but the photo just looks blurred when moving the masked photo layer, so you have to try out which channel works for each photo; for most photos, several channels will work with different results. For example, the top image was made with the "Black" channel image (Colors || Split Channel || Split to CMYK), this time with "Invert mask data" checked when creating the mask; this one gives a bit more colour to the relief. The bottom image was made with the "Red" channel image from the RGB splitting and looks a little bit paler than the one we made with the "Green" channel image in this tutorial.

Which channel mask looks best with your photos will depend on the colours of your photos and on which part of your image you want to set the focus. Just experiment – and have fun!