No announcement yet.

Retouching hair

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Retouching hair

    Hello masterminds of retouching.

    I was wondering how much time and how you work on retouching hair, similar to what I attach here. Most of the time it's about high res images 25-40 megapixel. Attached are crops, but it's the same all around the head.

    I try to keep intact the sensor grain and I use small brushes for cloning, dodge& burn. It takes me around one hour - 30 minutes up to few hours, depending on how complex is the background.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: Retouching hair

    This is not a good image for showing off your hair skills. You removed the stray hairs perfectly, but now it's too clean, you need to add a couple of hairs to make it look less suspicious. At the same time, the rest of the hair is untouched.

    P.S. To answer your question, if I were to retouch this image, it would take me 20-30 minutes for the hair, but for the entire head of hair, not just one edge.
    Last edited by skoobey; 01-06-2017, 08:11 PM.


    • #3
      Re: Retouching hair

      Do you suggest to draw a few hairs with the tablet and brush? I've seen that once on another retoucher and found it hilarious, to work a lot to remove and then add stray hairs

      I know it's not the best image since that sun is making hair look messy with all the hot spots and but was the best stock photo I've found close to the usual stuff. I'm not supposed to show photos from clients.
      This is just an example, but backgrounds are all sorts, streets, people etc.

      The reason I'm asking is maybe I find a better way to do this. I receive on my website questions like: can you do this in 2 minutes? can you do this for $3? etc... so this got me thinking maybe there is a better way.


      • #4
        Re: Retouching hair

        LOL. Yeh, you could do it for $3 but why would you. There are no easy fixes for 'bad' hair and it's time consuming to achieve good results. Moreover, unless its a hair themed image, no one will appreciate the work involved. On your sample image I would not have removed the stray strands - I would have taken some bark texture and blended it in over the top of the flyaways. The important thing is to make sure that individual strands terminate in a plausible way. You can paint a one or two pixel hair line and repeat several times with different blurs and magnifications.


        • #5
          Re: Retouching hair

          Here's 10 minutes of work. Not perfect, but I think my edit (on the Left) looks more natural by keeping some of the fly-a-ways. Also took out the most offensive horizontal hairs in the main body. Tip: whatever hair you keep should flow in the same direction for best visual results.
          Attached Files


          • #6
            Re: Retouching hair

            An answer depends on how high quality the client wants the final image to be.

            Yes there are "Flyaways" on the edge to fix up... but for me...the "Cross Over Hairs"in the main body of the hair are just as offensive as the edge hair. These Cross Over Hairs are the lighter hairs that go left and right across the other hairs... and not just the frizzies at the very edge of the background. Both of these kinds of hair are visual distractions from the face... because the eye is drawn away from the face to look at them. Because these hairs are brighter than the base color of the hair... the brightness of the flyaway strands is even more obvious and distracting.

            I might take about 25-35 minutes doing the vertical frizzies... because the background makes taking them out a bit tough. I might spend another 30 minutes selectively lowering the luminosity of the criss cross hairs in the body of the hair.

            How To Do It:

            To make the cross hairs go away... I would use the clone stamp tool...but... in the main top Photoshop menu... I would especially set the "blending mode" of the brush to "darken". I would sample from the vertical strands of hair nearby, make my brush only a few pixels wide to match the thickness of the hair itself. I would set the "aligned" checkbox to ON so the brush followed the hair direction... and I would choose "sample all layers... and make sure I was cloning on a new clear transparent layer above the image to make it easier to erase out mistakes without ruining the original hair.

            I would sample the vertical hair texture next to the Cross Hair and then paint over the lighter cross hair. The "Darken Blend Mode" will only clone if the strand is lighter than the background. The darken blend more only affects the lighter strands and selectively darkens them down. This allows the bright stray cross over hairs to be darkened in brightness and texture so that they disappear!! You will get matching color, texture and brightness matches in the offending hair if you use this method well.

            Depending on how many cross hairs you might take a very long time to do an almost perfect job. It can be done...but it takes patience and discipline to work with such small details in so many places.

            If this was a very important "Trophy Image" for my portfolio ... or for a good paying client who understood the intense work that needs to be done...then you might spend approx 2-3 hours on your image to get the hair almost perfect. You might also have to draw in hair strands manually... or use a Photoshop hair edge brush to get a really natural looking edge. The "hair edge brushes" add in 2-3 stray strands of hair that match the base hair color... and they make the straight edges look more soft and natural... instead of having a hard abrupt edge to the hair.

            Best of Luck,

            Last edited by ray12; 01-09-2017, 03:08 PM.


            • #7
              Re: Retouching hair

              Just don't overthink. Work visually and remove all the distractions, rather then spending so much time on one aspect, when this image looks like a portrait.


              Related Topics


              • dcmcintosh79
                Digital Wigs. Or, retouching real ones.
                by dcmcintosh79
                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...
                10-05-2011, 07:38 AM
              • CKAJCA
                I hate retouching hair
                by CKAJCA
                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...
                02-03-2012, 04:50 AM
              • KR1156
                by KR1156
                Any of you guys who work on hair often, i applaud you. I know Theveed was mentioning not too long ago, that he had a lot of experience with it.

                i've been helping out on a campaign for a major hair product, and it's by far the worst thing to work on. After all the careful cloning, i...
                08-31-2007, 09:04 AM
              • ken44
                Retouching Hair
                by ken44
                I did a model beauty shoot and my consultant does not like some of the bald and other imperfect areas:


                When I tried to retouch, she said my results did not look like real hair strands. What is the best way to proceed? thanks....
                10-12-2012, 04:59 PM
              • montanagal
                Hair Hair Hair
                by montanagal
                I have a senior gal with hair over the bra strap...she wants the bra strap to go but how do you keep the hair. I am just starting out...I am pulling my hair out..

                I did set up a flickr account and have the images smaller but how do I get that information to you?

                I have...
                02-07-2012, 10:04 PM