Topics   |   Free Tutorials   |   Photoshop   |   Tools & Techniques   |   Retouching   |   Masking

How to Cut Out Hair with the Brush Tool in Photoshop

  • Easy
  • 30
  • Add to

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


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 “[” “]”

Watch hundreds of PRO Tutorials and download Lightroom Presets, Photoshop Actions and more.
Learn More


Join us as we equip you with everything you need to know about shooting and editing in monochrome.
With over 4 hours of step-by-step instruction, we cover the tools and methodology required to make any color change appear realistic and natural.
While it may seem like magic, the ability to make anything disappear in Photoshop isn’t a trick – it’s a skill that anyone can learn.
Photoshop Compositing
In this tutorial, we cover several tools and techniques that, when combined, will allow you to create perfect masks of anything from the precision curves of designer products to the messy detail of a head of hair.
Lightroom Essentials
A smarter way to master the fundamentals of Lightroom. Find and learn the skills you need to organize, edit, and manage your photos with confidence.


There are no reviews yet.