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How to Cut Out Hair with the Brush Tool in Photoshop

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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

Download the Custom Hair Brush

Skills You Will Learn

  • Brush Tool
  • Pen Tool
  • Retouching

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 “[” “]”

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