Let’s start by creating the base for those brows! Prepare to bust out your Pen Tool skills; if you need a refresher, we have a tutorial on How to Use the Pen Tool.
Drop the (Brow) Base
Our goal is to mimic make-up by defining the shape of the brow, filling it with color, and then “blending” or blurring the corners for a more natural effect.
Start by selecting the Pen Tool P on a new layer. Click and drag points to make rough curves along the eyebrow, until the path resembles your desired brow shape. Don’t worry about getting the path perfect on the first go around! You can always go back to any point, hold CTRL or CMD and click and drag to move it. Once you’ve got a shape you’re happy with, right-click on the path and go to Make Selection. Feather by 0.5 or 1.0 pixel. This will prevent our fill from having a harsh, unrealistic line.
At this point, you should have a brow shape selection on a new layer. Grab the Brush Tool B, then sample a color for the brow fill by holding ALT or OPTION. Either sample from existing hair on the face, or choose the closest color. We’ll set the Blending Mode of the layer from Normal down to Multiply to blend it in, so feel free to try different colors out.
With the brow filled, notice that the lower edge by the strongest point of the brow bone looks nice, but the part closest to the nose looks cartoon-ish. Get a more blended look from that sharp outline by selecting your Blur Tool, unchecking Sample All Layers, and running the tool over the inner corner of the eyebrow a few times. Blur the top and outer corner of the brow as well, enough to make it look realistic.
Our Hair-Raising Technique
Now it’s time to get really hairy! We go over how to fill in the eyebrows even further by drawing new, individual strands. Hold on to your butts, we’re micro-blading in Photoshop.
Start by making your brush diameter as small as one hair in your photo. Bring the hardness up to about 70%, and lower the Flow. Up in the Window Menu, choose Brush to bring up a dialog box – where the brush magic happens.
For Mouse and Trackpad Users:
With this dialog, we can change the ordinary, single-sized brush stroke of the mouse into a stroke that fades and tapers off, just like a hair would! To do this, set the Size Jitter to 0, change the Control from Off to Fade, and type in a number (in the box next to Fade) to determine the length of your stroke. As you fiddle with the Fade number, you can test the results by painting on a new layer. Be sure to choose a length that closely matches the length of an existing brow hair in your photo (or that simply matches the length you want, generally the shorter the better). You can always go back and change this setting at any time.
For Pen and Tablet Users:
With tablets, it’s fairly easy to achieve a hair-like stroke. Change your Control from Off to Pen Pressure, and simply make a brush stroke that starts thick (by pressing down a bit) and ends very light and thin (by quickly lifting your pen as you stroke).
Once you’ve got a hair-like stroke that works well, either fill in any sparse areas on the brow, or get to creating entirely new hairs from scratch. You’ll want to paint in strokes that are pretty random, but follow the general sweep of the eyebrow (from the inner corner to the outer corner). Reference eyebrow photos for a solid guide.
Finally, on a Layer Mask, lightly paint black with a large, soft-edge brush at the inner corner of the brow to soften the look of the strokes there. You can now Duplicate your hair or base layers, change their Opacity, or add a new layer for more brush strokes until you achieve the brow thickness of your dreams.
“This was just a HAIR above the rest!”
– Aaron Nace, 2017