If you work with Adobe Photoshop and try to crop hair with the available selection tools, you will quickly realize that this endeavor will / must fail quickly, especially for women with long or curly hair. With men, you may still know how to help yourself with these simple tools, but at the latest when you have to deal with fine, sticking out hair, you have to use other methods. For those who want to avoid spending several hours on hair cropping, we have put together a short guide.

Preselection of the photo

Channels give us the possibility to separate any color photo into its red, green or blue components. Especially the blue channel is interesting for us, because it gives us the possibility to separate foreground and background.

As an example, let’s take this relatively difficult photo of a portrait photographer. As you can see, the lady has very frizzy hair, but it stands out relatively well from the background.

You should already make sure that this circumstance is given when selecting the photo. If the hair and the background have the same colors, even the most powerful program can perceive differences only to a limited extent.

Hair crop with Adobe Photoshop – tutorial for portrait photographers

Hair clipping in Adobe Photoshop

We start by opening the selected photo in Photoshop and first duplicating your background layer so that the original photo remains untouched. You can do this by pressing CTRL+J or by dragging the layer you want to duplicate onto the “Create New Layer” button.

In the next step we switch to the tab “Channels” in the layer view and duplicate the blue channel in the same way.

Now we open the gradation curves with CTRL+M. Alternatively you can find them under Corrections -> Gradation Curves. There we adjust the input slider so that the subject we want to crop is as black as possible and the background as white as possible.

Hair crop with Adobe Photoshop – tutorial for portrait photographers

Now, the fact is that white areas almost always remain on the face. We can simply paint over these with a black brush. We do the same with disturbances in the background with the color white.

Hair crop with Adobe Photoshop – tutorial for portrait photographers

Our result should look similar to this in the best case.  With the key combination CTRL+I we can invert the colors so that our later selection is white. As a result we get an inverse photo.

Hair crop with Adobe Photoshop – tutorial for portrait photographers

Now we are able to make a selection by holding down the CTRL key and clicking on our “Blue Copy” channel. If we switch back to the layers and select our initially created copy of the original photo, the selection will be transferred to it.

Optimizing the channel selection

With a click of the right mouse button on the selected area we create now a copy of the layer, which contains only the woman. Now the result is usually still not optimal, because often remains of the original background or background color can be seen between the fine hairs. By selecting with a soft edge you can selectively adjust these areas to the new background with a soft brush.

The result could then look something like this:

Hair crop with Adobe Photoshop – tutorial for portrait photographers

Of course, this is only one way to get the result. But it’s a quick and easy way to free up difficult hair sections.

Hair crop with Adobe Photoshop – tutorial for portrait photographers
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