Photoshop CC Tutorial – Advanced: How to Select Hair

Photoshop CC Tutorial - Advanced: How to Select Hair

Photoshop CC Tutorial - Advanced: How to Select Hair

1. The Right Kind of Image

Before we start trying to extract an image in Photoshop, we do want to ensure that we have an image that will be more conducive to getting a clean selection. We want to avoid images that fall out of focus around the edges of the hair. Images that are sharp from the very front to the back are the best and yield the best results. This is the type of image that I’ll be working with right here.


Photoshop CC Tutorial - Advanced: How to Select Hair

2. Selection Tools

Typically I like to start with the quick selection tool and drag a selection around my object and select everything that is NOT my object being selected. In this case I will select the background around the model. This typically makes it easier for the next step which involves refining the edge of our selection to really include all the hair and fly-away hairs.


Photoshop CC Tutorial - Advanced: How to Select Hair

3. Refine Edges

Once you have your “marching ants” selection you’re ready to refine this thing. Go Select>Refine Edge and I like to tick on “Smart Radius” and increase the radius about 4px or so depending on the size of your image. The golden child of this refine edge tool is the little brush icon to the left called the “Refine Radius Tool”. Take this tool and begin painting around the edges of your selection-specifically the hair-just as I do in the video above.


Photoshop CC Tutorial - Advanced: How to Select Hair

4. Drag Model to New Document

Once we create this selection we will create a mask that hides everything we have selected by holding our Alt/Opt key and hitting the create a new mask button at the bottom of the layers panel. Once this model is selected from our image we can grab the move tool (V) and drag her over to the new background and drop her into our new background.


Photoshop CC Tutorial - Advanced: How to Select Hair

5. Final Adjustments to Mask

To apply our final adjustments to our mask we want to grab the brush tool (B) and look to the control bar and set the brush tool to the blend mode of “Soft Light” and gently brush near the edges with either black or white to paint away only the black or white colors and build a realistic looking edge. The soft light blend mode with the brush tool allows you to paint with that black or white color and, instead of actually painting with that color, it will only intensify what black or white is already in the mask. This allows us to quickly paint over the edges without making a complete mess of our mask. After cleaning up your edges you will have a great looking mask for your complex hair selection! Be sure to watch through the video for a detailed walk through of how this is done.

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  1. says: Suzanne English Walker

    I’ve followed your tutorial, but when I do the “refine edge” step, the person I want to extract is showing up as “red”, not the background as depicted in this tutorial. I’ve gone back and done this several times, following closely each time with the same results. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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  26. says: Katy Gordon

    Not bad! But I send my photo in this company, guys from FixThePhoto provides professional portrait photo retouching. They reshape face in photos, edit eye color, whiten teeth , remove braces in pictures, and fix frizzy hair in Photoshop.

  27. says: Lisa Maria

    I have tried to pick out hair by making path however its did not work well. however It appears that your tutorial are going to be effective on behalf of me.

  28. says: james

    This is really nice tutorial Nathaniel man. Most of the tutorial of yours is very nice with a nice presentation. I think this is why professionals use Photoshop to express their unique works. Step by step images made this post very easy, & really thanks for sharing.

  29. Nathaniel, this is a fantastic tutorial. The majority of your tutorial is extremely excellent, with a nice presentation. This, I believe, is why pros utilize Photoshop to express their individual works. This topic was made much easier by the use of step-by-step photos, and I appreciate you sharing them.

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