Unlimited PS Actions, graphics, videos & courses! Unlimited asset downloads! From $16.50/m
  • Overview
  • Transcript

2.3 How to Cut Out Hair in Photoshop Using Refine Edge

In this lesson, you will learn how to cut out hair in Photoshop using the powerful Refine Edge Tool.

Related Links

2.3 How to Cut Out Hair in Photoshop Using Refine Edge

Welcome back to The Ultimate Guide to Hair in Photoshop. Finally, this time around, we will be covering my absolute favorite way to extract hair in Photoshop, the Refine Edge tool. The Refine Edge tool is quick, easy, and effective in a good portion of scenarios. While it'll work best on images with high contrast and solid backgrounds, because almost all processes do, Refine Edge can often work some magic even on images you might not expect. Here is a perfect example of it getting a large amount of those wonderful hair strand details, even though we had essentially white on white. Now let's look back at our reference PSD here. We have two subjects, a dog and a woman. Let's look at the harder of the two which is the dog, but ultimately they will go through the exact same process. Let's start by creating a quick selection and mask all our subject's hair using the quick selection tool. This like many things does not have to be perfect. We want to focus on selecting the areas that already have a little to no background peeking through. The magnetic lasso tool also works great here, just any quick and dirty selection will do. With our selection done, add a mess to the layer. Double click the Layer Mask and then hit Selected mask, this will open up our Refine Edge options. First things first, we want to make sure that Smart Radius is checked. Next, we will look over to the left and set our active brush to the Refine Edge brush. Now, shoot over to the right, the only number settings we will mess with will be the radius, which you can set anywhere from 2 to 6 pixels. The number may change from image to image, though I tend to keep it at 3 most of the time. Now for the fun part, go ahead and zoom in on a section of hair and drag your brush across the edges of the subject. Photoshop will work its magic and start separating the hair from the background. It's best to work in medium sized chunks using the spacebar to pan as you go. You can also change the size of your brush using the left and right brackets. If you have found you have selected too much, you can either, a, undo it using good old Ctrl+Z or you could hold Alt and then click on the problem area for a more controlled undo. And if you find you have a hard time seeing, you can always change the view in the upper right hand corner, flat black, flat white, checkers, all the classics. Now, when it comes to hair, I personally do not touch the global refinements most of the time. A lot of people however, like to add a hint of shift edge, or maybe even some smoothing and contrast, but for me, I wanna keep as much hair detail as possible. And I like to do my own refining later on. So I will be keeping everything set to 0. But again, feel free to tinker and play. So talking about Refine Edge kind of takes much longer than actually using Refine Edge. It's a quick process that delivers great results, however, not perfect results. So once happy, go ahead and click OK and let's refine our Refine Edge. You may notice some areas where Refine Edge got a little bit overzealous, let's take care of those with a semi-hard round brush set to white. We are just masking in the areas that I know should be solid but the Refine Edge tool crept in on. We also wanna take a black brush and masking any leftovers that are showing, just the big really fat stuff. We don't want to compromise any of the detail all of these curls add just yet. With all the edges cleaned up, we could stop here, or we could start masking in our own hair strands, adding more detail, more volume, more movement and just more hair. We could do this using a default round brush. Or we could use a set of custom-made brushes designed specifically for finishing and finessing hair. In fact, I lied. Neither stopping or using a round brush was ever an option. We are about to create our very own beginner's set of custom hair brushes coming up next in the Ultimate Guide to Hair in Photoshop.

Back to the top