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Cut out hair from Grey Background

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  • Cut out hair from Grey Background

    Hi guys,

    I was wondering whether someone could help me with a cut out problem I am dealing.

    I have to cut out out a dozen of hair images and place them to a black background (this was decided from the client after the shoot).

    Having in mind Lee Varis's technique from retouch pro live show ( I told the photographer to shoot the models on a grey 18% grey background.

    Unfortunately, it's not working very well if the background you want to use is black. I am using various ways to mask out the hair (refine edge/channels) but at the end they don't look that natural on the black.

    If anyone could suggest how I can make this work (any method or tutorial I could use either for the cut out of for the grey bleeding that remains...) I would greatly appreciate.

    Thank you in advance


  • #2
    Re: Cut out hair from Grey Background

    More local adjustments. Paint in some strands, and darken others. There is no magic.


    • #3
      Re: Cut out hair from Grey Background

      I assume your problem is light halos. Here is a trick that works on some areas some of the time.

      Using your best mask, cut the subject and place on a new layer, so the backgorund is transparent.

      Go to layer styles for that layer and play with Inner and Outer glow. Make the color dark, make blend mode darken or multiply. Play with spread/size/choke and opacity. Takes a lot of experimentation, and sometimes different settings for different areas (multiple masked layers). But has potential to eat away halos.


      • #4
        Re: Cut out hair from Grey Background

        I regularly use a light battleship gray seamless background paper for my cutouts. Some people use the overly highly saturated blue and green that was once great for less sensitive TV cameras to pick up... but... many people today over light those backgrounds...and the highly vivid color then becomes a green or blue SPOTLIGHT bouncing back at the back of the person and contaminating the hair with blue an green halos.

        The only trick ive found is that it is necessary to use some paid third party software sometimes to solve unique cutting problems like this. I have paid for and used 4 different chroma-key plug ins for my work in the last year or three. There has been only one that has worked for my precision single hair strand needs... Vertus, Fluid Mask. (On sale for $80 USD at times).

        Fluid mask has a special blue brush that is used at the hair intersection and the smooth, and evenly lit, non-shadowed background. (Hopefully you, or your client, have moved the model 6-8 feet in front of your background so there are no competing complexities and shadows to deal with). Fluid mask is then able to cut every single strand of hair out without halos, fringing, or long as you have also shot the image well too.

        Here is the hint I offer. In Photoshop under Main Menu> Layers> Matting (all the way hidden at the bottom) there are 5 choices for removing contamination, edging, or black or white matting or halo issues. Sometimes these special hidden menu items will enable me to fix up some of the edges that are problematic...especially B L A C K !!! (The HARDEST OF ALL DECISIONS... try to persuade your client to use something more forgiving... make up a test with a cyan/teal background or a background IMAGE that will conceal the bad edges).

        Sometimes you can control/command click on your models thumbnail in the layers pallet...and this will give you a perfect marching ants selection. (The model will have been previously cut and pasted onto a clear transparent layer). From there go to Main Menu> Select> Modify> Expand/Contract... and contract that cutout's edges by 1 or two pixels... that will sometimes clip off those pesky halos around the cutout too.

        You can also get rid of the halos by alt clicking on your layers mask so that you see just the mask of the cutout. From there you can use dodge or burn to change the luminance of the mask to make it more contrasty in special that your cutout looks better.

        NOTE: I have never, ever found it totally acceptable for Just Photoshop Alone to make a great single hair strand cutout of hair. Their present complement of cutting and extraction tools is not that fine detailed presently for my needs. Be sure to follow the best chroma key photography practices in shooting your models to begin with too... all it takes is just a little complexity at the hair edges to produce an ugly cut.

        PS: I also have a collection of well cutout hair strands made into Photoshop Hair brushes from over the years. These hair brushes enable me to FIX and replace bad hair edges with these good edges. Sometimes your cutout will just be too difficult...and you will have to shave off the bad hair parts...and reconstruct and re-color the the edge with good repair hair parts from your library.


        • #5
          Re: Cut out hair from Grey Background

          First, I double the layer, then I increase the contrast of layer 2, with Levels tool.
          I also choose the area need to be removed by magic wand tool and some other.
          Choose Refine Edge to select the boundary. Change the contrast if nessesary, pickup the erea I need,
          Copy that area to new layer, fill the background with white

          I am wondering if you can let me do a test for those hard level pictures?
          Pls add me via skype helenepe or email me [email protected]
          Last edited by HelenEPE; 07-15-2016, 10:16 PM.


          • #6
            Re: Cut out hair from Grey Background

            YES, It would be fun to see what you are dealing with...if you think its permitted!!


            • #7
              Re: Cut out hair from Grey Background

              Pls send me that pic, I am eager to test I can record a video


              • #8
                Re: Cut out hair from Grey Background

                Thanks for all the answers guys and sorry for the delayed reply, too busy with other stuff...
                I will try all your suggestions and hopefully I will make it work. As for posting a picture for you to test unfortunately, it's for a hair salon and it's their winter collection which is not allowed to be seen before the end of September. I could send one or two only if there is the reassurance that they won't go out before that date and if of course manage to secure the salon's permission.


                • #9
                  Re: Cut out hair from Grey Background

                  Hi Nikos111,

                  I just want to test one or two pics, then send it to you personally so that you can tell the people our way is good or not. If the edited images is not worse than other method, even it is time consuming, I am happy to share my way via a video record the whole process to make to make those edited images.

                  I know privacy is so so important so I wont let any other people to see those images unless I have your permission. We are professional service provider.

                  Can you send me two most difficult pictures to my email [email protected], I will send it back to you within 18 hours.

                  Looking forward to hearing from you!



                  • #10
                    Re: Cut out hair from Grey Background

                    Editing, again?


                    • #11
                      Re: Cut out hair from Grey Background

                      Edit the raw file, of course


                      • #12
                        Re: Cut out hair from Grey Background

                        Editing is CHOOSING the file, not retouching it.... Editors edit, retouchers retouch.


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