Here it comes, the project all graphic designers dread… Cutting out hair. Sure it’s pretty easy to just use the pen tool to go around the general shape of the head and snip off all those pesky stray hairs, but other than adding another head, there really isn’t anything more unnatural looking. Lets face it, you can’t individually trace around every hair and still have a productive work day.
So what is the best solution for the problem? Well, there isn’t one perfect solution. Since every photo is going to have it’s own set of variables, the real solution is to know a few good methods for solving the problem. Here are the three I use most often.
This is one I like when there is a fair amount of contrast between the subjects hair and the background, but has many stray hairs as part of the composition. It has a few too many steps for me to use real often, but it does a great job under certain circumstances.
Also, recognize this is actually a Photoshop Elements tutorial. There are some differences between Elements and Photoshop Pro, but if you know anything at all about Photoshop then it’s pretty easy to figure out ways around it.
This is my favorite of the three. It uses the Refine Edge palette which is still fairly new. My only issue with it is that photos with certain highlights will sometimes loose their opacity in those areas. There are of course ways to work around this, but if this is going to be an issue you might want to try one of the other two techniques instead.
Here’s an oldie but goodie. The method is a bit oversimplified in this particular tutorial so it might not be perfect for your particular situation, but it gives the basics of using Channels. Personally this is about the only time I touch Channels so I’m not very well versed with all of their possibilities. I do know people who swear by them and can use them for what seem to be just about any situation.
Hopefully these three will do the trick if you’re having a bad hair day.