Handy Techniques for Cutting Out Hair in Photoshop (part 2)

Technique Two: Images with Detailed Backgrounds The Channels technique is all well and good for studio photography with plain backgrounds, but it gets a little more difficult on standard shots with detailed backgrounds getting in the way.

Open up your image in Photoshop. This image has a decent contrast between foreground and background, but certain areas of the hair do blend in with the darker tones of the backdrop.

Start by trimming out the clear edges with the Pen Tool, but when you reach the hair simply create a rough tracing.

Around the hair portion, aim to include only solid areas of hair that aren’t merging with the background, otherwise the lighter tones will mess things up later.

Make a selection with a feathering of 0.2 pixels to remove any harsh edges then paste onto a new layer. Reduce the transparency of the image so that the original hair line can just be seen.

Here’s where the fun begins! Use the Smudge Tool to draw in areas of new hair, using the original outline as a template. Begin with a 4px brush to flesh out the thick base hair and disguise the jaggy lines from the path. A Wacom Graphics Tablet really comes in handy here to speed up the process and help add varied line thicknesses.

The new hair will soon flesh out the image back to its original appearance. It doesn’t look too bad at this stage, but repeating the process with a thinner brush will draw in those individual hairs.

Use a 2px brush with the Smudge Tool to draw thin stray hairs in varied directions to add realism to the image.

The photo can then be placed on any background with ease, and displays a crisp cut-out with no fringing or loss of fine detail.