What you learned: Mask hair, and paint in hair strands using hair from another image
Select the person
- Open an image of a person, and select the layer that contains the person—the portrait layer.
- In the Properties panel, go to Quick Actions and click Remove Background. This automatically creates a layer mask that hides the background around the person.
- Alternatively, you could use Select > Subject or the Quick Selection tool to select the person, and then click the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers panel to make a mask from your selection.
Fine-tune the layer mask
- With the layer mask thumbnail on the portrait layer selected, choose Select > Select and Mask.
- In the Select and Mask workspace, use the sliders to refine the edge of the layer mask. Choose View Mode > On Black. Then drag the Smooth slider to the right to minimize jaggedness on the mask edge.
- Soften the mask edges by dragging the feather slider to the right.
- Choose Output To > Layer Mask, and click OK.
- Go back into the Select and Mask workspace to focus on masking the hair. Click the Select and Mask button again.
- Select the Refine Edge Brush tool, and drag over the edge of the hair.
- Drag the Shift Edge slider to the right to move the mask edge inward and hide imperfections.
- Click OK to close Select and Mask. Don’t worry if the mask is not perfect. Painting in digital hair will make the result look more realistic.
Create a custom hair brush
Sometimes you’ll get better results if you use hair from another image to create and paint in strands of hair. Find a photo with a solid background that has a lot of contrast with the hair. Then create a custom brush out of the hair.
- With the Crop tool, crop the hair photo so that the only area visible is the hair that you want to turn into a brush.
- Remove the color by choosing Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.
- Choose Image > Adjustments > Levels, and drag the Input Levels sliders to turn the background white and the hair black.
- Select the Dodge tool, set the Range to Highlights, and paint on any gray areas in the background to make them white.
- Select the Burn tool, set the Range to Shadows, and paint over the hair to make it darker.
- Choose Edit > Define Brush Preset to make the black and white hair image into a brush.
Paint in digital hair using your new custom brush
- Back in the original portrait photo, click the Create New Layer button to create a new layer.
- Drag the new layer below the portrait layer.
- With the Brush tool active, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (MacOS) to temporarily switch over to the Eyedropper tool. Click on the hair to sample a hair color.
- Use the left and right bracket keys ([ ]) on the keyboard to resize your hair brush tip and match it to the portrait image.
- Click once to paint hair on the new layer.
- Press Control+T (Windows) or Command+T (MacOS) to transform and distort the hair to better match the image.
- Repeat this process a few more times until you are happy with the results.
Tip: Don’t use just a single color for the hair that you paint in. Use as many colors as possible that are similar to the subject’s hair to create more realistic hair strands.