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I hate retouching hair

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  • I hate retouching hair

    For the past 2 months I have been trying to teach myself to retouch to a high standard and have watched numerous videos, studied many tutorials and practiced like mad. I am confident with D&B, using the Split Frequency technique etc but am still stuck when trying to remove the rats nest of hair that you sometimes get on images, especially when the hair is against a background of varying shades and colour. Can anyone give me some guidelines that I can follow. This problem is driving me up the wall.


  • #2
    Re: I hate retouching hair

    What i have started doing now, when extracting hair from a similar coloured background is to do a quick and dirty selection, and then i hand paint the hair back in using various custom brushes.

    The Nagel brush series is particularly good.

    Once you get the hang of it your painted hair can look really convincing and it's kind of fun too. Far less stressful then messing about with masks etc!


    • #3
      Re: I hate retouching hair

      Hair is one of the most annoying things of all. Sometimes it involves a lot of reconstruction. The rat's nest areas often have to be rebuilt in phases if there's not enough underlying detail to clone out individual cross strands with solid continuity. If you post an example of what you're trying to do, perhaps I can offer a suggestion. As far as tutorials, I've never seen a good hair tutorial. I have worked on some really fried hair with harsh lighting. It's pretty brutal when the shadows are noisy and none of the hair edges even have any kind of flow. It's quite important not to dive right in. Images can be deceptive. You have to be able to look at an area and determine what you have to work with. If too much detail is masked or the direction is totally off, it's not like you will achieve acceptable results by cloning out cross hairs.


      • #4
        Re: I hate retouching hair

        Hair work is a pain and one of the reasons I don't want or seek beauty/glamour work. That said, I've just had to cut out a dozen pix of furry animals such as rabbits and chinchillas which is problematic in the same way. Rather than mess about with masks I used 3 methods. First, ignore all the flyaway stuff that won't be missed. Remove the semi transparent outer hair that is saturated with the background colour so you are left with just a dense unrefined hair edge (yes, it looks odd). Smudge away from the hair with a 1/2/3 pixel brush which maintains the relevant colour. Or; cut a patch of hair texture from the area adjacent to the head profile and offset that patch to cover where you wish the outer strands to be placed. Use a layer mask to 'hide' the patch and 'restore' individual strands by brushing with a 2/3 pixel brush. (BTW You are not trying to restore individual hairs per se, just the general texture) As a refinement you can copy the hairs, rotate or alter the position and then blur them to create a sense of depth. Or hand paint as Longside recommends. Can be tedious but it works!


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