At the end of my last blog post I stated that Steve Caplin, author of How to Cheat in Photoshop, 6th ed., had an additional “cheat” for dealing with hair. Well, your wait is over! In this post I’ll not only cover that cheat but also a third cutout technique and a Photoshop magic tutorial.
Flyaway Hair Solution
Most of the time an image from a royalty-free site will have the subject’s hair cutout just inside the hair edge, which produces a clean cutout, but also looks unnatural even on a white background as seen in the left image from the pair below:
In the real world, as we all know, hair just isn’t perfect, even on a good hair day! So, what’s needed is some flyaways. In the above image, the flyaway effect was created with the Smudge tool. First a small splatter brush was used to pull out sections of hair. Then, to pull out single strands, a small, soft, round brush was used. Next, the image is placed in front of a complex background and, viola, “perfect” hair.
Cutting Hair with Refined Edge
As in my last post, Heads and Bodies – Part 2, for this lesson Caplin revisits using Refine Edge, a technique he introduced all the way back in Chapter 1 – Natural Selection, where the subject was a cat’s fir. This time, its the wispy hairs from the late German actress, Barbara Rudnik as seen in the following panel:
The Rudnik cutout is a particularly tricky because her hair is close in tone to the original background. However, by using the Refine Edge dialog box, all those wispy hairs are captured. On a white background, it’s obvious the image isn’t perfect. But, against a more complex scene, Rudnik and her hair look very natural.
The Problem of Hair Loss
The title of this tutorial sounds like a late night infomercial on hair restoration. However, Caplin’s readers are doing just the opposite. This technique has real-life application as the best quality image of a subject is often an older one and the person no longer looks like the picture. With Photoshop magic we can make an image look up-to-date as follows:
Granted, in reality Obama has gone gray, and not bald, but you get the idea. However, Obama’s high, clear forehead makes him an ideal subject for practicing this technique. By copying the President’s forehead, moving that copy upwards and then adding a layer mask, Obama goes from fuzzy to cue ball.
Next: Heads and Bodies – Part 4