Masking Hair using Photoshop

As a Composite Photographer who specializes in Portraits, I know I have an almost impossible job to do when my client has big, or frizzy, hair.

So, today I’m going to show you how I make my job easier by Masking Hair using Photoshop.

Creating Caricature Portraits can get really complicated when Compositing in a new background on a subject who has a lot of frizzy hair with the background showing through.

This is where knowing your tools, and being good at using your tools, can save you a lot of time, and make your Composites look real.

Masking the Hair

I’m sure you already know the go-to tool for masking hair is either by using the pen or magic wand tool, then refining the edge.

This works great, but is often not great enough by itself.

If you want to take your Caricature Portraits to the next level, you’ve got to get really good at masking hair and making it look real.

Here’s how I Mask Hair using Photoshop.

  1. Using the Pen Tool, I mask out my subject.
  2. Using the Refine Edge option, I’m able to extract many of the hairs from the background.
  3. Adding a background spotlight helps hide the ghosting caused by Masking Hair.
  4. Using the Lasso Took, select the hairs you want to fix.
  5. Copy the selection, and paste it on a new layer.
  6. Add a blend mode of Overlay to your pasted layer.
  7. Add a Brightness/Contrast layer and attach it to the pasted layer.
  8. Add a mask to the pasted layer, and paint out areas you don’t want to show.

Best Hair Masking Techniques

Suffice it to say, there are a lot of ways to accomplish your desired results in Photoshop, which means this isn’t the only, or best, way.

For me, this method works 85% of the time really great.

To make this method work best for you, I recommend you photograph your subject against a plain wall, free from textures.

Ok, now let me know what you think, and how this technique works for you in your Photo Compositing.

Comments (2)

“ I’ve been waiting for most of those tips since years. When i don’t use Photoshop frequently, I never really bothered to locate a solution to all this stuff. Awesome, thank you! “

No problem Mickle… Hopefully I can get back to doing some more of these videos this year.

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