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4.2 Lighting Hair, Shading Hair, & Painting Flyaways

In this lesson, you will learn how to light and shade hair as well as how to paint convincing flyaways for more detail and depth. We will also take a close look at the Blend If Tool, and how to create hair highlights quickly.

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4.2 Lighting Hair, Shading Hair, & Painting Flyaways

Welcome back to The Ultimate Guide to Hair in Photoshop. We are finally at my favorite stage of hair, the lighting. This is because I have a sincere love affair with backlit hair. Now, if you want something more subtle, you can take these exact tips and techniques and just tone them down. However, if you do that, you will have to make sure you work on getting your hair strands nice and clean when you extract them. See, with my method, I don't have to worry about that as much. As you can see here, they're almost a solid color of white or a pale yellow, in this case. It can, of course, change. So just just keep that in mind. That depending on how much lighting you add, you might need to spend a tiny bit more time on those fringe hairs. Now, with all that being said, let's start by looking at the different parts of hair. First, you have the itty bitty hair strands that stand alone. They end up catching almost all of the light from the sun, in this case, it could be other light sources. And they end up being almost entirely white because of it. Or any kind of light tint, of any color. [LAUGH] Then we have these strands of hair that are slightly clumped together. Thick enough to where they are going to black light but still need to be brightened significantly. So they aren't going to be completely engulfed, but they are going to be quite, quite bright. Next, you have the hair that is a part of the central portion of hair, but would still be catching some light due to it being on the edge of the hair. And finally, we have what I call the inner hair. That's where most of your shadows will go, along with some stray highlights. Now, of course, this will all depend on your image and your environment. In this particular composite, we have a general daylight scene with a lot of light coming from the bright blue sky up above. And it also has the extra complication of the hair being split into three different layers. The chunk of top hair, the chunk of our hair on bottom, and the subject's original hair, three kind of individual pieces. Everything we do to one section of hair, we will also do to the other two. Let's just get started and lay a base layer of light down by creating and clipping a soft light layer into the bottom section of hair. I am going to go ahead and just hide the top layer of hair for now, as it just kind of complicates things. Then with a soft brown brush set to white, we are going to paint all around the hair, going about midway into the inner hair, really quick and sloppy like. Next, we are going to repeat the same step, creating and clipping a layer. Only this time, we are going to set that layer to overlay, and we are only going up to the edge of the inner hair. Again, painting kind of in a just general fashion. Finally, one more base layer, set the screen this time. And again, we are going to cover all of the hair strands with either white or a pale color of your choice. In this case, a pale golden color. The color completely depends on the hair color and the environment. A white could work here, too, but I find it would look a little bit too harsh. Next, you are going to want to bust out those custom hair brushes we made and paint in some hair strands. Create and clip a new layer, set the screen, and then use that same white or pale color you used on the previous screen layer. Focus on creating strands that really flow nicely with the hair that already exists, making sure they blend and taper into each other. Avoid harsh, thick lines that seem to come out of nowhere and then end randomly. Also, don't be afraid to use multiple layers, create ten layers if needed. This is especially important when using your static hairbrushes, as you will need to blend each stamp of the brush with a soft eraser brush. You can always merge all of the different layers in the end or as you finish each section. So don't feel the need you need to paint all your hair strands on one layer. Now, as you paint your strands of hair, you can also go back and refine your soft light and overlay and screen layers. With this image, I did not love how the layer mode overlay was even working with the hair. The process of it just was not speaking to me. So I toned it down, only placing it in specific places and completely erasing it in others. Keep in mind, however, on other images, I've used almost exclusively overlay layers when lighting hair. So you really just want to see what works best for you and your image in that particular circumstance. I also added much more of the pale yellow to the screen layer, as my subject is in a bright lit environment. And I was just really feeling this pale yellow color, if I'm being honest. And then I noticed the soft light layer acts as a next transition between the normal hair and the hair with the golden glow. So I kept that in mind when painting as well. And, of course, make sure you give this treatment to the front hair and the subject's original hair as well. Just jump back and forth between the three of them, making them uniform and blended. There's no need to go in order and decide, this one's done, I'm never going to touch it. Again, realistically, these processes are very rarely linear. And once you feel confident that that back back and forth just might be finally over, you're gonna bring it all home by creating layers below your subject, and above your subject. And anywhere in between if you have something like what we have going on here with these free hair pieces. See, you are going to want to paint hair strands that are not clipped into the actual hair. This will not only add more detail, but also help the hair ultimately blend together and feel much, much, much more dynamic. This is where I spend most of my time. And this is also where I make all my final adjustments. I get really nitpicky. I go back and forth from one layer to another. I zoom in really, really close and then I zoom super far out. Time and patience really pay off here. When painting, I use longer strokes, making sure they all taper and flow nicely. Paint strands of hair on the intersection of the hair as well or else you will end up with an almost solid looking outline. We don't want it to look like the hair has a stroke layer effect applied to it. And as you can see, I did the whole process again with the dog. In this case, making sure I kept his fur consistent with the woman's hair. With all that, we are actually going to wrap it up with the lighting, as well as looking at this particular PSD. Because while I did do some color correcting to the hair to make it all perfectly matched, it was pretty lame and boring. And I'd feel like I was cheating you if I just covered that. So let's look at how to do some serious hair color changes next up in The Ultimate Guide to Hair in Photoshop.

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