HOW TO RETOUCH: Pt. 5 How to Retouch Hair in Photoshop CC

Moving along in this series to part 5, we’re going to talk about fine hair retouching and doubling down on frequency separation (covered in part 3) to create the layers we need and then zoom in on the hair and fill in areas that are missing hair and cleaning up dark streaks in the hair to start to get a very smooth finish to the hair. You can use this method and get extremely fine, smooth hair, or you can use it sparingly like I will in this tutorial to get a more realistic portrait look.

See All 12 Parts!

Click here and grab the free action to set up your hair retouching as I have done in this tutorial.

1. Get rid of Fly-Aways

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To get rid of fly-aways I like to create a new layer and grab the Healing Brush tool (J) and choose to sample from “Current and Below” and I also like to set my Healing Brush to the “Replace” mode and hold down the Alt/Opt key and sample the gray sky around her head and paint away any little hair fly-aways that are sticking out. TIP: I like to use a relatively small, soft-edged brush tip on my Healing Brush tool.

2. Frequency Separation Again!

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We talked about frequency separation back in part 3 of this tutorial (Click here to check it out! [LINK]) and here I’ll execute a frequency separation process on this image (PRO TIP: Rename any “hi” or “lo” layers that you have to “hi-descriptiveName” and “lo-descriptiveName” to keep the action from getting mixed up when it applies the image to itself.) and I have the layers that I need for the very first part of my hair retouching.

3. Cloning to Fill in Hair

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I like to work first on the “hi” layer which contains all the details from this image and grab the Clone Stamp tool and choose to sample only from “Current Layer” and paint over areas of the hair that need to be filled in. TIP: Look out that you avoid repeating patterns and take care to dust over those areas with a second pass with the Clone Stamp tool and clean up anything that is an obvious repeated hair pattern.

4. Cloning to Healing Lines and Minor Areas

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After cleaning up major holes in the hair and fixing any major blemishes I like to focus on all the small lines and any overlapping strands of hair. I use the Clone Stamp tool again on the “hi” layer and (very important!) set the brush tip for the Clone Stamp tool to a small, hard-edged brush and gently paint over the blemishes and fix them.

5. Flattening the Hair

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To flatten the colors of the hair, we want to jump down to the “lo” layer and select the Eyedropper tool (E) and choose “31 by 31 Average” from the “Sample Size” drop down menu in the control bar at the top of the workspace. Then grab the Brush tool (B) and set it to 10% opacity and hold your Alt/Opt key to select dark colors in the hair and paint a stroke or two over the bright parts of the hair and Alt/Opt-click to sample colors from bright parts of the hair and paint a stroke or two over the darker parts of the hair to flatten the color and tones of the hair. TIP: We’re going to re-introduce contrast into the hair when we dodge and burn in a future step of this tutorial process.

6. Watch the Video to Even More!

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Make sure you watch the video for even more detail on every single step of the process I’ve outlined here and so much more!