Nov 22, 2016

How to Cut Out Hair with the Brush Tool in Photoshop

How to Cut Out Hair with the Brush Tool

When cutting a person out of their Background, hair is often the hardest area to master. Learn how to create custom Brushes and use them to cut out hair in today’s episode!

Hair Vs. Body

It is helpful to think of cutting a person out in two different parts — the Body and the hair. Cutting out a subject’s Body is relatively easy, though it may take some time. For best results, we recommend using the Pen Tool.

Click Here for a Tutorial on the Pen Tool!

Because hair contains fine detail, it is best done with Selection Tools or the Brush Tool, as taught in this tutorial.

How to Create a Custom Brush

The first step in cutting out hair is to create a custom brush that looks like a single strand of hair. Everyone has different hair, so each brush is unique to the individual being cut-out.

In this example, we start by creating a single “Hair” which is just a brush stroke with a very small diameter to simulate a hair.

Once a single brush stroke is created, it is time to turn it into a Custom Brush Shape. Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and create a square selection around the hair by holding SHIFT+CLICK-DRAG. Fill the square selection with white and move it behind the layer with the Hair on it. Center the hair in the white square by clicking on the Pen Tool, then the Alignment Controls on the top of the Screen.

After the hair is centered, keep the selection of the white square active and go to “Edit – define brush preset” and give the brush a name. This will create a brush with the shape of a hair, next it is time to define the custom brush characteristics in the Brush Menu.

Defining Custom Brush Characteristics

To open the Brush Menu, go to “Window – Brush.” In this advanced menu, you can control many characteristics of a brush, including shape dynamics, Scattering, rotation and Size. For best results, mix and match settings to simulate natural Hair.

Try adding Size Jitter, Angle Jitter, Scattering, and Roundness Jitter.

Painting Hair on a Layer Mask

After creating the “Hair Brush,” it is time to paint on the Layer Mask to reveal the hair. In this example, we cut out the subject’s Body with the Pen Tool first, then painted in the Hair with the custom brush.

Keep in mind, hair changes size and direction on different areas of the head. The Custom Hair Brush can be rotated in the “Brush Tip shape” dialog in the “Brush Menu.” Change Brush size using the open and close brackets “[” “]”

Download the Custom Hair Brush

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  • user image

    After logging in I tried to view the above video only to tell me it’s private?

  • Randal

    This is an awesome tutorial Aaron. It’s not the easiest way but it’s the best way I’ve ever seen to get a “real-hair” look on any background. Thanks for sharing!

  • user image

    The technique using calculations is still the best I’ve found to cutting hair. It just does it perfectly!

  • user image

    I’ve seen many tutorials on selecting hair but yours is by far the best! Thank you Aron, your tutorials are great.

  • user image
    Stephen Glass

    That’s such a great idea. I’m struggling with the new “select and mask” and this is such a great alternative. Thanks!

  • user image
    Daniel Coats

    Omg, this is the coolest ever. Had I known about this when I was working as a graphic designer, it would’ve saved me so much time cutting out people. Thanks so much for posting this tutorial 🙂

  • user image

    Thanks Phlearn for this great tutorial! I mostly take photos of dogs and cats and always struggle when I have to cut them out from a background. All those hairs! 🙂 I will go and try this method, looks a lot easier and more precise.

  • user image
    Richard Jones

    This was very helpful and provides a different and interesting workflow to my usual one. Thanks for this and I include a file done with traditional masking.

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Cut Out Hair with the Brush Tool in Photoshop

  • user image

    Another great tutorial!! Thanks!!! I have soooo many danged brushes 😀 now I need to organize things, I think.

  • user image

    Brilliant tutorial! Can’t believe it’s taken me soooo long in the past, when it is really this easy. Thanks so much.

  • user image
    Gordon Lindsay

    Like the tutorial but login doesn’t work for me I changed the password and still can’t login to download the hair brush??

  • user image
    Andrea Fine

    I wanted to download the brush tool, but i got a message that was’nt working. Help please

  • user image

    hi Aaron,
    great episode <3
    I want to know during applying a filter or apply image It always confuses me if I should make "layer with 50% gray or merge my all file "ctrl+shift+alt+E" and what's the diffrent between both

  • user image

    Once I have downloaded the custom hair brush, how do I get it into photoshop. I’m sorry, it’s probably a rookie question, but I know I need to unzip it to a folder, just not sure where.

  • user image
    João Rocha

    Very well explained technique and also very useful when cutting out hair. But there’s a little catch there Aaron, if you change the background color to any other color besides white, you will still end up with white impurities on the hair points. It can be easily adjusted with blend modes, etc. but still it is a point worth mentioning. Keep up the great work!

  • Michele

    I have bought your course and can’t wait to get started. I have been doing the hair the hard way love this you make it seems so easy. Thank you for explaining in so much detail. Was so happy to find the Phlearn tutorials, I recommend them to everyone.
    I used to be so frustrating trying to learn Ps from you tube with just music on a tutorial with no-one talking whats the point of that.
    Thank you so much for sharing your talent and expertise, best on the web, I am a big fan of yours

  • Janie Dawkins

    how do I download the brush when I click download it goes to complete registration and I do that but still no download?

  • user image
    Alan Ewart

    Excellent as always Aaron. I would never have thought of using this technique

  • user image
    Margus Tõnnov

    Thank You Aaron.

    You are making a really good job.
    I watch Your tutorials regularly
    and it’s awesome how much i’ve learned from You,

    Thanks a lot!:)

    from Estonia