Retouching Techniques for Hair in Photoshop® CC®

Lesson 9/10 - Use Channel Pulling to Add Highlights


Retouching Techniques for Hair in Photoshop® CC®


Lesson Info

Use Channel Pulling to Add Highlights

All right, I'm gonna show you another thing along with the hair. All right. So what we had before is we have gray background, we have masked out chiquita, we have hair edges, just standard hair edges, some painted in the inside, do you see the inside hair? That's painted because we had that big old hole, right? Then we did some screen hair, top hair. Now what you can do, this is kind of fun. I'm gonna turn that mask off for a second. I'm gonna go to my channels, do you remember we did channels earlier? I'm gonna pick a channel that lets me select some of those highlights of her hair. So red, that's a lot. Green, a little less. Blue might be a little more manageable because there's so much yellow in the image that the blue channel's a little dark. I'm gonna grab it by its name, blue channel that is. And make a copy. Do Command L because Lisa says do some levels. And what am I doing here? I am making a mask, for the hair. I just want part of the hair. This time, do you remember when we w...

ere the channel but before we were looking at the outer edges of the hair? Now I'm looking at the inner edge, I want what's in the juicy bits in the center, all right? And let's just say for giggles we like that. Oh, I don't want that background, and I had the mask turned off because when I make channels I tend to turn the mask off. Don't panic. Your mask is a selection. Command Click on it. Command Click on the icon for your mask. Go to your blue channel copy. Blue, I'm gonna try to name that. Blue copy for hair. Name your channels too, give yourself help. And then I'm gonna inverse, Command Shift I. Inverse that selection. So now the background is selected. Not the hair, the background is selected. And I'm gonna fill with black. So now I'm gonna do this crazy thing, just sit back and relax for a second, see if you can follow this. I'm gonna go back to the main image. I'm gonna load my new blue copy for hair selection. Command Click on the icon for the channel. I'm gonna copy, Command Shift C. And then I'm gonna paste, Command V. And what have I just done? I've just pasted a copy. Why? Because now I'm getting crazy. I'm gonna blur it, blur it, and I'm gonna put it on color dodge. So I'm gonna blur it. I'm gonna put it on color dodge. It's Breck for your hair! Now all right, it's a little too much. Is Breck even out anymore, can I say that? All right. And, I put a black mask. Option Click on the mask icon and you can put a black mask. You can see where I'm going folks, I'm painting with white on the mask and this gives you that beautiful sheen, they use that argon oil for, you pay all that money for. Here we just use color dodge. Maybe a little too much on the ends, take it off. Maybe that screen on the edge is a little too much. So let's recap, because that was a lot. Right, I know, it's a lot, no big deal. It's actually not complicated, I swear to Buddha, it just takes some time. You mask out the chiquita, or the dude. You paint some hair edges. You've got your brushes, you're gonna download the brushes, you can try all sorts of stuff but it's basically a soft, two pixel brush at 50% opacity. You're gonna use that rotate tool, it's gonna be your favorite thing you've ever done. It's gonna change your life, you can write Creative Live and say thank you for the changing in your life. You're gonna hit Escape, you're gonna go back to normal. Then what you're gonna do is you're gonna paint some screen. Just some hot highlights, ain't no big deal. Hot highlights, and if you feel very adventurous I'm gonna paint this out here. If you're feeling very adventurous you are gonna make a smart object out of it. It's all easy peasy, lemon squeezy, convert to smart object. You're gonna put a blur filter on it, you're gonna feel very brave at this point. You're gonna think you rock, because you do rock. You're gonna invert the mask on that smart filter and you're gonna paint it in. Really, it's not a lot, it just seems like a lot. Paint with white, and you're gonna blur the hair and people are gonna think that you're the best mask editor in the world. And you can see how fast this can go. And then when you're really feeling brave you're gonna do a channel pull on the entire picture, please do not mistake that, I did that channel pull on the entire image. And you got something that looked weird like that, right? You put it on color dodge. It's actually gonna look like that when you first do it. You're gonna change it to color dodge, and then you're gonna paint it in selectively and you're gonna realize that she had the best highlights put it and she, what do they call it, the umbria? Ambria. Ambria, that thing. It's really pretty basic, it's just knowing what to do. You do that also to change hair color? I do, and I do channel pulls to change hair color. So hair color, I'm glad you're asking. Hair color's tricky, I find. I find most people do it a little ham-fisted and what I mean by ham-fisted is they do it a little too broad. I'm gonna do a selection and I'm gonna make a adjustment layer, let's say for example we do a curve, for example. I'm gonna close that for a second and I'm gonna realize I should always clip it. Option clip. And I'm gonna go to my curve and I'm gonna, "Oh okay, I want to change the color." I'm doing the long way on purpose, okay? So let's say you wanted to have a little more red in her hair? Or do you want her to have less red in her hair? I don't know what you want to do, but we can decide. Let's say you want to make it less brassy. So if you use curves, which I prefer, to do color, they also can change tone so you might need to put the adjustment layer on color mode. See how the tone just shifted? Now I often pull channels and fill in color just in the highlights and leave the undertones the way they are, is that kind of what you're referring to? Darker underneath. Exactly, so yeah channel pulling's my life. And brown to blonde is harder than blonde to brown? Do you find it some directions or adding red highlights to brown hair for example? Do I find that harder? Yeah. No, no. Because if you do a channel pull you can pull it through, or luminosity mask, you guys have a class on luminosity masking, check it out it's in Creative Live. It's not an entire class on luminosity mask, it's a class that has luminosity mask in it. I use luminosity mask and do it that way, because you just need to up the highlight value. Do you understand? If you have brown hair versus blonde hair-- It's where the light hits. Exactly, you just need to up the value, that's all you need to do. Thank you.

Class Description

Retouching hair is hard! Demystify how to best treat hair for beauty and compositing jobs. Lisa Carney will teach how to create the best mask for hair using channel pulling, selections and masking. Lisa will go over techniques for illustrating hair, creating custom brushes, using hair parts and using Layer Blend modes to your advantage. Retouch, composite and edit with hair with confidence!

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Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017.1.1



This is a fantastic course. But is clearly intended for very experienced PS users and retouchers. This backup materials, especially the workbook, are first class. She does speak too quickly and is a little difficult to follow. I felt like the right amount of material was covered. I would have loved more. But it needed more time to do it justice. She just seemed so rushed. I would have payed more for a longer class. Overall, I would highly recommend to anyone interested in this type of work. I found it fascinating.


If you love Photoshop and are serious about retouching, this is one of the best classes from one of the BEST instructors I've ever seen. It is fast pasted, but well organized and completely to the point. I don't know about you, but I prefer an engaging instructor that is passionate about her field and wants to give you as much information in her course as possible. The bonus materials alone are worth their weight in gold and should help anyone having trouble following along with her advanced techniques. I hope CreativeLive brings her back soon!

Amy Vaughn

Lisa was obviously trying to cram a lot of advanced information into a short class here, but she was fun to watch and I thought she did an excellent job. The extra time she put into the bonus materials more than makes up for how rushed the video was. The PDF workbook is 23 pages long with screenshots, step by step instructions and loaded with tips. Then there are over 50 quality hair brushes in the brush sets. I'd love to see her come back to CreativeLive some day for a longer class covering more topics.