Retouching Hair: Fixing Gaps

by Scott Kelby

... continued from the previous page.

Step Four: Using selection "patches" to fill gaps

Press Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T) to bring up Free Transform, so you can rotate the chunk clockwise to match up with the existing hair around it better (below, left). Just move your cursor outside the Free Transform bounding box, and your cursor changes into a two-headed arrow (seen here). Now, just click-and-drag in a small circular motion to your right and the chunk rotates. Once it’s rotated, you may have to move your cursor inside the bounding box to reposition the chunk a little to make the hair match up better. Granted, it’s not perfect, but that’s okay—we still have more tweaking to do.

rotate the selection to match

Step Five: Press Return (PC: Enter) to lock in your Free Transform rotation. You can kind of see an edge area on the right side of the chunk that isn’t quite blending very well, so we’re going to mask that away in just a couple of brush strokes. Click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a layer mask to this layer. Now, get the Brush tool (B), press X to set your Foreground color to black (because your layer mask is white), set your brush Opacity to 100%, and choose a small, soft-edged brush. Paint a few small strokes over the top of the chunk to help blend that part in with the surrounding hair. (above, right)

Eyedropper tool to sample darker areas

Step Six: Here’s the additional step I now add that makes a difference in the depth of the retouch: Take the Eyedropper tool and sample a darker area of her hair. Then, with the Brush tool, with the Opacity lowered to around 15%, so it’s very subtle, paint a few strokes over the darker areas within the areas you just lightened a moment ago (as shown here). Just paint a few strokes here and there to give it some dimension—this little step helps to make it look more natural and realistic.

Step Seven: In this case, it looks like we covered most of that bright spot, but there’s still a small bright area beneath our last fix. So, press Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) to duplicate that last fix, then use the Move tool to drag it down a little, add a layer mask, and paint some of the edges away to make it blend better.

add a new layer mask and begin painting

Step Eight: Use the same process to fill in a little more on the left side. After you get some of it filled in, you may want to press Command-Option-Shift-E (PC: Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E) to create a merged layer, then make your selection from it. When you’re done with the left side, move over to the right side and fill those gaps, too.

Now, we got lucky with this one, that all it took was a little rotation to get these chunks pretty close to where all we had to do was a little masking. Sometimes, you’ll have to actually flip the hair horizontally, so it doesn’t look like a copy of hair sitting beside itself (a dead giveaway). If that’s the case, once you bring up Free Transform, just Right-click inside the bounding box and when the menu appears, choose Flip Horizontal. Then you’ll have to rotate it back into place, but this little horizontal flip can really help hide that fact that you “borrowed” hair from a nearby area.

Here is the before and after shot
Click to view larger image

GO Continue with the next segment "Changing Hair Color

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.


Excerpted from : Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques by Scott Kelby

Excerpted from Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop by Scott Kelby. Copyright ©2011. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and New Riders.

Peachpit / New Riders / Kelby Media
Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques / Amazon

Scott KelbyScott Kelby is Editor, Publisher, and co-founder of Photoshop User magazine, host of the top-rated weekly videocast Photoshop User TV, and co-host of D-Town TV (the weekly videocast for DSLR shooters). He is President of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), the trade association for Adobe Photoshop users, and he¹s President of the training, education, and publishing firm, Kelby Media Group, Inc.

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