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Digital Wigs. Or, retouching real ones.

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Old 10-05-2011, 07:38 AM
dcmcintosh79 dcmcintosh79 is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2009
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Digital Wigs. Or, retouching real ones.

Hi there,

A couple of friends of mine are morning show hosts on a local radio station--they would like to spoof one of the movie posters for the new Twilight film ( for example).

The only problem is that no one has the long hair that will make the picture. SO, since it's a spoof and not completely critical that things be perfect, I thought I could either find high resolution hair images ("digital wigs"--I like that they exist??) and comp the the link there is such a dark shadow by the hair line...makes me think maybe hers was comped...regardless there is a ton of contouring in that area), or by a cheap wig (I don't have the resources to get a professional, real hair wig) and retouch it to make it look more realistic.

So, to be precise:

1. Has anyone comped a face and hair successfully? Any tips?
2. Has anyone retouched a bad wig to make it look real?

Hope everyone is well!

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Old 10-12-2011, 10:20 PM
ray12's Avatar
ray12 ray12 is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: NYC
Posts: 313
Re: Digital Wigs. Or, retouching real ones.

Sure. Wigs can definitely look good in cases like this especially when they are photographed well and with a good camera and good lighting. The wigs that look the best are called Human Hair Remi (High end well textured) Virgin Hair wigs. You can get those kinds of wigs low ball for around $60-100 in some places if you shop around real good. The really great looking wigs are a good bit higher in price than that... from $200 -1000 sometimes.

BUT, we have found that the lower priced wigs mentioned can photograph quite well... in a creative in a situation like yours...especially if they are combed out nicely. You might alter the images so strongly...that maybe you could get away with using a piece of fairly low cost wig possibly.

From a Photoshop perspective if you are going to do a might have to produce all the elements at fairly high resolution (300dpi for print quality). We have hair libraries we have collected over the years to add in hair to images... and to be able to fix bad hair. The hair would need to be blended in and matched up...often requiring the Retoucher to know how to do layers, masks and curves techniques...they do exist...but you might not find one right off the bat without searching.

I have a library of Hi Res hair images here at the be willing to give you some off line for this project if you contact me through the private message area here.

Here is a quick example of what you might be able to do using pieces of hair from another model... and then blended in to your model.


Attached Images
File Type: jpg Hair-Example-BFA3-copy.jpg (91.6 KB, 64 views)
File Type: jpg Hair-Library-Retouch-Pro-Example1.jpg (98.1 KB, 54 views)

Last edited by ray12; 10-12-2011 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 10-14-2011, 04:58 PM
crimper's Avatar
crimper crimper is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Petaluma CA
Posts: 25
Re: Digital Wigs. Or, retouching real ones.

As a hairstylist as well as a photographer, in your before & after image, the hair piece (fall) is pretty obvious even to an untrained eye. Mainly because of the abupt chang of direction ofthe fall strand compared to the natural hair underneath.
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Old 10-14-2011, 06:29 PM
ray12's Avatar
ray12 ray12 is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: NYC
Posts: 313
Re: Digital Wigs. Or, retouching real ones.

Yep, I can agree crimper. I needed to put in an additional step of teasing the hair under the fall. I did that sample image real fast... just for a quick illustration that you can put hair from one image into another. BUT: Good hair work requires QUITE a bit of attention to detail and a lot of effort sometimes.

As an example of doing good may need to think about 11 different things:

1. The Kind of hair - straight, curly, wavy - your hair patch has to match.

2. The Color of Hair - Hair comes in a multitude of colors so it is almost always necessary to put in a curves adjustment layer above to match the luminance of the target hair, the color-hue, and the saturation. Its totally doable... but it may take some time to get a great match.

3.The Direction of the Hair - you must rotate and warp the donor hair to match the surrounding hair. Your sample may be photographed staight up and down... but your target area may be bending or curved in that area. In your observation crimper...even the height or fall of the hair needs to be observed and matched!!

4. The Texture and Lighting of the Hair - a hair sample may be photographed from far away... but the target is a closeup image...So you need to match the size and direction of the strands. You would do well to to have a library of coarse, fine, shiny, dull, curly straight and differently lit hair. Thus the need to make up a library with a lot of samples in it. Some may match up perfectly, some may need some work to match them up, some will not work at all.

5. The Strand Blending of the Hair - you have to rotate the hair so it looks like it is coming out of the existing flow of strands... and match them up. You often need a soft layer mask on the sample hair to Blend the strands into eachother properly...otherwise you get a connection mis-match.

6. You Need Perfectly Cut Hair Edges - The samples you get... all need to have fine detail hair edges that are absolutely cleanly cut-out... with no fringing, edging, matting, or stray coloring, or halos around each individual hair strand...otherwise the hair will not blend in well into the background. It will look like a ragged mess. Using less than perfectly cutout hair edges can be a dead giveaway. The hair edges need to look good over many kinds of different backgrounds.

I can hear some readers say...Gosh This is Too Much Work... just to do stupid hair fixes. Professionals and desperate people need perfectly retouched hair sometimes for their really important pictures. The knowing Retoucher will understand that there are about 11 steps he has to watch out for to do a good job. Things like... How about handling curls, how about blending hair in behind existing wisps of hair, how about matching highlights in the hair, how about the direction of your sample (was your sample shot from the side and your target hair was shot from a more frontal angle?) how about matching final strand sharpness etc etc etc?

I agree...sometimes its not even worth the problem...But sometimes...its the Only way to get the important job done! Not everyone has the patience or time to patch it in just right. You have to be a special kind of Retoucher to even want to do hair work well. If this post is too long for example...or is too much detail...then actually doing hair retouching might be a real challenge. LOL.

So, do you need a library of many images? Yes, the more the better. The better chance of locating a good match candidate.

If you can just clone...using the existing hair to fix up the problem...then thats a Good Day. BUT, If your original image doesnt have the necessary repair elements within fix up its own problems from the same head of hair...then you are going to have a really Bad Hair Day! LOL.

Sorry to be a bit long at sharing a teacher by trade...and I enjoy leaking background information for those that may want some between the lines detail... instead of just a short burst. If Ive overwhelmed a reader...apologies. You dont really want to retouch hair do you?

This hair Stuff...its heavy duty work sometimes...especially if you want to take the time to do it well and invisibly... in all of its Nuances... so no one comes back at you and says...Hey, you forgot to tease up the hair in that fall direction!! OOPS... missed a step... Bagged! See, its easy to have a bad hair day.

Best of Luck


Last edited by ray12; 10-14-2011 at 08:49 PM.
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