At the heart of any Photoshop file lie channels—storage containers for all your image's color information, saved selections (Saving a Selection), and instructions regarding special printing inks. Channels sound intimidating at first, and folks have been known to shudder at their mention and avoid them completely. But to really understand Photoshop, you need to understand channels. Luckily, you don't need a PhD to do that—just a little patience.
This chapter gets a little technical at times, but if you soldier through, you'll be rewarded with wisdom that'll help you perform some amazing pixel wizardry. You'll get that warm, fuzzy, enlightened feeling as you learn to:
Use channels to make complex selections (Deleting Alpha Channels).
Perform highly targeted color adjustments (see the figure on Changing Contrast).
Create stunning grayscale conversions (The Lightness Channel).
Map one image to the contours of another (Mapping One Image onto Another).
Sharpen your images without introducing noise (Combining Channels).
Save a selection so you can use it later (Saving a Selection).
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Everything you do in Photoshop involves channels (well, save for paths, which you'll learn about in Chapter 13), so it's important to get to know them. If you understand how Photoshop does what it does, you can make it do even more in less time and with less effort. That's called working smarter, not harder—which is why, dear Grasshopper, ...