Creating your own hair- the easy way
June 1, 2008
Part 2 of making realistic photomanipulations.
Last blog it was about shadows, now i'm gonna give some tips on creating fur and hair.
There's three ways to do this, I often combine two of them. Let's start with a model. You will need to erase all the parts around her that we don't need. Don't waste time on trying to mask out the strands of hair, just follow the basic shape of it all. When you're done you will need to create new hair to make it look realistic. Hair is not perfect and have strands flying everywhere. So what we can do first is to SMUDGE on the edges a little using a special brush. You can do this in a very light way or actually create big flowing hair this way, whatever you desire. You can use any brush you like, I have found that the first choice of photoshops "natural" brushes work good but there's a better choice, there's brushes designed just for hair smudging. Some of my favorites are:
If you use these please remember to respect and credit the artist that took the time to make and share these.
When using these you have to experiment a lot. You pick the smudge tool and use a pretty high strength, sometimes I even use over 90 percent, especielly when using a little size and for tiny strands and very simple brushes. What you will need to do is to combine the bigger more detailed brushes with simple one dotted ones to make strands in different size. The very first standard brush in photoshop, the one pixel one, often works good for smudging. You have to smudge following the flow of the hair, be light on the hand and don't be too stiff. Remember that hair is flowy, it's very rarely completely flat.
So now we covered the basics about smudging hair. Now let's talk about painting it. It can sound a bit complicated but you won't have to paint the entire hair, just strands of it. It's very simple, pick a one pixel tiny brush, opacity/strength differs but I often use around 50 percent. Then simply paint the strands using the ALT key to pick up different colors from the hair with the eyedropper. Often you will need to smudge a little or put a light blur on them so keep EVERYTHING on a different layer. Combine colors and tones and EXPERIMENT. It will not look perfect right away.
The last thing i'm gonna cover is using actual hair brushes.
Some very good ones:
Remember to read the artists RULES and follow them.
When experimenting with brushes remember that you can move them around using the edit, transform tool (try the free transform) You can also experiment with colors, opacity (always lower on every layer) and blend modes. You will need to use the brush in more than one layer and one color and you will need to use more than ONE of them. It also always looks nicer when combining this with either some smudging or painting. Just a few strands will make a huge difference.
Once you get the hang of this you will see a big difference in your photo manipulations.
You create fur in very much the same way, but fur is often not as flowy as hair. Here's a smuging brush for both hair AND fur:
What I would recomend is to study real hair, the way it flows, the way strands go over each other and the many different tones of the hair. How you make your own hair is completely up to you, these are just a few guidelines you might want to try out.
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This article has been read 2100 times. Photo credits: Alan Webber.