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3.3 How to Refine and Finish Hair Masks

In this lesson, we'll finish learning how to mask hair in Photoshop. You'll learn how to put your custom Photoshop brush sets to use by using them to refine and finish hair masks.

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3.3 How to Refine and Finish Hair Masks

Welcome back to The Ultimate Guide to Hair in Photoshop. We've just finished creating a set of our very own custom Photoshop hair brushes and it's time to put them to use. Now there is no set method or step by step guide here. All we are doing is fixing and making our final refinements to our mask after all. However, I do have a few general tips and tricks I've picked up over the past few years that I can share with you. Starting with going with the flow of the subjects hair, work with the original flow of the hair whenever you can. Make that curl a little bit curlier or add a subtle loop in a straight piece of hair to give things more variance and range. Hair is a great place to add all kinds of small little details that really do add up to a big impact in the end. My next tip may seem obvious, but it's still totally worth mentioning. Pay close attention to both the subjects original hair length and texture. Then mimic it while painting if your subjects hair is perfectly pin straight, then you probably don't want to be painting the curly coarse hair. Use your subjects hair as the perfect reference photo, essentially. Now you want to keep your subject environment in mind as well. This is especially important if you're placing them in a new area with drastically different environmental influences. If It's windy and there is debris or snow flying, then the hair would be whipping around and chaotic. Hair is incredibly sensitive to the environment existed. Take your time and visualize what a subject hair might look like in the scenario you are creating. I already mentioned this tip but again just real quick have multiple hair brushes in your arsenal. Thick hair thin hair curly, straight, long, medium short, a single strands and full on giant clumps of hair. They will all come in handy eventually at one point or another and they will all help you paint those perfect little hair details. All you tablet users, you might think well I have a tablet it's all hand painting from here on out. While I do paint the majority of my hair by hand, those static brushes are great to use when perfecting the edge of a mask further helping things blend giving edges a more natural look. Grab one of your hair brushes, set to white and using just the edge of the brush, click along the edges of a mask. This will give some texture to an otherwise smooth edge. This can also be a huge time saver. So no matter your tools, you never want to discount one technique over another. Always use the tool and technique that is meant for the job. Now that we are all done kind of adding in our extra hair strands and perfecting our mask to some degree, you'll notice that both of these extractions have a huge large number of fringe hairs. These are the hairs that still retain a slight amount of the background causing a very unattractive halo effect around the strand of hair. Getting rid of these can vary in difficulty. I tend to keep them and then deal with them while lighting my hair as I use a large amount of RAM and backlighting in my composites. However, if that's not your thing, you will want to do a combination of the Clone tool on its own layer, another layer set to color and some hand painting solid colors on a normal layer. So you're gonna wanna use the clone brush to clone hair over the fringe hairs. Use the layer set to color to fix any off colors like the green on the dogs fur here. And then use a normal layer to paint the color of the hair directly on to the smaller hair strands that aren't really worth fiddling with the Clone tool or anything like that. They can simply just be painted a solid color. Finally, you can also try using shift edge while you are in Refine Edge, playing with the settings and seeing how that works. For me, I tend to prefer the clone brush as you still keep a large amount of varying color and it keeps things from looking too flat. That's if again I'm not doing backlighting, which is my preferred method overall. No matter your method and your style going out of your way to really just perfect a hair mask is a task completely worth doing. Just take your time zoom in nice and close and go at it. With all that in mind, we can jump into all of the small little tweaks you can do to hair, starting with how to make it both fuller and longer. Coming up next in the Ultimate Guide to hair in Photoshop.

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