Retouching Hair: Changing Hair Color

by Scott Kelby

Scott Kelby photo retouching Changing hair colorScott Kelby continues this series of retouching hair with coloring! Scott writes:

quoting This is fairly common, especially if you’re working with an art director who wants the model’s hair to match the clothes, but luckily, most of the time, a change of hair color is fairly subtle, and not from one extreme to another. end quote

Step One: Here’s the image where we’re going to (eventually) change her hair color from blonde to brunette, but we’re going to have a couple of stops at different colors along the way, along with a technique variation, so you’ve got lots of options (especially if your subject, or client, wants a big variation in color).

Step Two: Start by getting the Quick Selection tool (W) and then literally paint over your subject’s hair to select it. If it over-selects, and starts selecting her face, you can remove that spillover by pressing-and-holding the Option (PC: Alt) key and painting over the spillover areas to deselect them.

Use a fairly small brush, and just keep painting until it’s all pretty much selected (as shown here). Also, you don’t have to worry about making a perfect selection for two reasons: (1) we’re going to have Photoshop fine-tune the selection for us in the next step, and (2) we’ll automatically have a layer mask, so we can fine-tune the mask just by painting on it if it needs tweaking. So, relax, and get your selection kinda close, then move on to Step Three.

Quick Selection tool

Step Three: Once your selection is in place, and while you still have the Quick Selection tool, go up to the Options Bar up top and click on the Refine Edge button (As shown above, right). This brings up the Refine Edge dialog, and gives you a preview of your selection (you can choose to view your selection on different backgrounds—choose the On White background from the View pop-up menu, so it looks like it does here). You can see from the selection we have here, it’s pretty harsh and jaggy, but don’t worry — that’s all about to go away.

refining edges Step Four: To get a much better, smoother, and more encompassing selection, go to the Edge Detection section of the dialog and turn on the Smart Radius checkbox.

This helps you get a better, more accurate edge around your selection (especially helpful with hair), but just turning on the checkbox isn’t enough—you need to then take the Radius slider and drag it to the right (as shown here), and you’ll see the edges start to change from harsh to very usable (as seen here). Again, they don’t have to be perfect—you can always edit the mask we’re going to make in a moment by just painting on it. So, at this point, we’re definitely closer, but if it’s not perfect, just roll on.

Okay ... so now, let's add some color ...

... continues on the next page!

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