Martini Hour 010, In Which Deke Apocalyptically Imagines a World of Layers inside Channels

This week in the dekeLounge, we return to the relative calm of just me and my good friend, Deke, sipping classic martinis, having temporarily sent the guests of previous shows home, properly blindfolded with memories wiped, to their families only slightly the worse for the wear. Don’t worry, we’ll send the tinted window Range Rover out to “fetch” them again soon, but for now it’s just me and the guru.

So it’s fitting that this week’s graphic (brought to you by one of our talented contest winners, Gale Franey) features just me and Deke floating in martini-scented bubbles. Here’s what we’ve got in store this week.

InDesign Secret Handshake: Document History You Didn’t Know Was There

Adobe InDesign PM Myke Ninness once showed me this obscure (and mildly scary) trick for seeing some document history. Try this: Hold down the Command key on the Mac (Ctrl on the PC), choose InDesign > About InDesign (on a PC that’s Help > About InDesign), and get some fairly specific info on the file you have open. It’s cool, it’s creepy, and it’s definitely a secret handshake. (My thanks to our resident Design Mastermind, David Futato, who confirmed the PC instructions since I’m without an InDesign-enabled PC at the moment.)

New! Photoshop Wish List: Deke’s Utopian Absurdity, Layers within Channels

To hear Deke talk, masking would be well-served if only you could create multi-layered alpha channels and the like. Although he may well be right, we’re both fairly convinced that such an enhancement would propell Photoshop’s already steep learning curve into the statosphere. Ever honest, Deke acknowledges that perhaps there is an upside to this for him, since he makes his living explaining the esoteric nature of Photoshop to people. Come to think of it, hiring him to do so is a fairly significant part of my job, so shut up already, me, and let Photoshop get weirder.

Cheers! This Week’s Toast:

This week’s toast falls to Deke, who cites as inspiration, home of a million bizarre, evocative, and intriguing illustrative images. And as if that’s not enough, there’s the online image compositor Phoenix at

Interested? How can you resist. Here’s the regular-quality (192kbps) audio file. You can stream, or for best results, right-click and choose Download or Save.

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Next entry:Photoshop vs. Adobe Bridge: Beware the Cache, the Cache Must Die!

Previous entry:Four MORE Full-Resolution Channels & Masks Videos Available for Download


  • The duet of pleasures

    Hi guys, nice podcast.

    I can’t help but point to a direction that may fulfill BOTH of Deke’s wishes. That is to say, he can fly AND have layered channels.

    Flying part is easy - take up hang gliding or paragliding. Plenty of schools in your neck of woods Deke, and it’s easy to learn as it turns out. You could fly solo in as little as couple of weeks. Plus, you guys have some nice active air over there from what I hear.

    Who would have thunk; it turns out that “layers in channels” is a technique that’s already available. Only it’s “channels in layers”. Here’s how:

    1. Shift+Alt+Ctrl+E to send your multi-layered composition to a separate layer (or Ctrl+J if you only have one layer)

    2. Shift+Ctrl+U to get rid of colors within it

    3. Pretend for a second this layer is a channel. Give it all your TLC as if it were one, and take the advantage of availability of other layers

    4. Once done, select your multi-layered “channel” and convert it to a smart object or place it in a group

    5. Ctrl+Click onto the RGB channel to load it as a selection

    6. Hide your smart object or a group (whichever you chose) and proceed as if you just loaded a selection from a regular channel. Voila!

    This way you still have the “channel” to further modify if you need, the advantage of all the blend modes and adjustment layers and the minimum clutter in your layers palette. Create an action and you can speed up the process for future use.

    OK, it’s not layered channels per se, but it’s familiar ground, and the functionality is still there. I actually prefer to go this way rather than, say Calculations command.


    Happy, happy, joy, joy!


  • Channels as Layers

    I was thinking this same thing when I was experimenting with CMYK, the multiply blend mode, and so-called ‘subtractive’ color.

    I’ve been saying for years that subtractive color was ‘more like’ multiplication than subtraction, but I had never tested it. When Deke flat out said subtractive color literally IS multiplication I had to check it out.

    CMY artificially made

    CMYK made by Photoshop and pulled out of the channels into the layers

    As I did this kind of work, flowing between channels and layers, I kept thinking there should be more interplay between channels and layers built into Photoshop.

  • The Structure of Photoshop

    Another, somewhat related problem I have with the structure of Photoshop is that unlike in, say, Shake, where you can see the whole tree, in Photoshop, things like blendif are hidden from casual view.

    If you look at the layer stack you would have no clue that a blendif was in effect.

    I did a little thing on blendif with two identical layers, each with its own color correction adjustment layer, and a blendif between the two sets, and I was corrected by a commenter that all I needed was one layer, two adjustment layers, and a blendif between the two adjustment layers.

    Frankly I was stunned that adjustment layers would even HAVE blendif ability. To me they are ‘operators,’ not ‘operands,’ and the idea that both operators and operands would have blendif capability was bizarre.

    I dunno. Maybe its a feature, and not a bug.

  • I have to admit

    I have found this frustrating on any number of occasions.

    The fact that there is no interface marker for the advanced blending options is nothing more than a cause for confusion. I have spent many minutes in my own files puzzling over what the hell I did. And there’s no excuse for that. (Other than my own personal dementia. But, please, that’s a given!)

    Vis-a-vis the operator-v.-operand argument: I’m not so sure that’s a stalling point. The notion that an operator (the adjustment layer invoking an impact on its neighbors) cannot simultaneously be an operand (the object of blend mode desire) seems to me an antiquated artifice.

    Photoshop wisely ignores such logical barriers. It’s not a scripting utility, after all. It’s a full-blown organic world.

  • That is an excellent point

    Photoshop provides a way to see just about any type of information on-the-fly; one just has to glance in the right direction to see any setting that’s applied to anything parametric. Short of Advanced blend modes, that is. Hmm… do I see a “Blend Modes” panel on the rise in CS5?

    By the way, you might find a gradient map layer a better way of applying a split tone to an image. You can do it all at one fell swoop.


    Happy, happy, joy, joy!


  • Gradient Maps

    I was more trying to demonstrate the blendif than I was specifically trying to make a sepia or split tone - but I had never really had occasion to play with the gradient map until you suggested, so I thought I’d give it a look.


    It’s similar to how fractals get arbitrarily colored.

    (similar to a Maya ramp shader, also)

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