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Tips & Tricks

This Is How To Cut Out Hair In Photoshop – Easy & Effective

By Kishore Sawh on September 28th 2014


I’m forever astonished to see how Photoshop users take the software and just do the most creative things – from creating vast scenes of composites to making a world that doesn’t exist. For my type of photography, I typically am more concerned with the retouching of people, and altering light states, and perhaps some mood alteration.

On the odd occasion, however, I will cut a person out of a scene, usually from a seamless backdrop, and onto/into another scene. This could just be to alter the color of the background onto a collage or something. Dealing with a subject’s hair in the cut-out process, can be excruciatingly tedious though clearly from the video you’re about to watch, it needn’t be.

[REWIND: Why Your Photos Get No Likes, And Why Ones Much Worse Do Much Better]

Aaron Nace, with his trademark geeky humor and effortless teaching ability, gives the key to unlocking the secret to cutting out hair seamlessly. There is one small caveat – it is much easier to do this using dark hair against a light backdrop. Essentially using contrast to allow for easier separation.


What you’ll be doing is using ‘Channels’ to find which solar channel shows the most contrast between hair and backdrop. Once you’ve decided on this, you can up the contrast in the channel even more, and your selection in channels will carry over onto the layer you’re working in. Back in layers, all that was dark will turn invisible and a simple inversion of this will cut out the background.

From this point all you’ll need to do is concern yourself really with the fringing, the light colored halo that surrounds the cutout of your subject, which is apparent in pretty much any selection you make in Photoshop. Aaron’s method to deal with this is the easiest way I’ve seen, and very effective, and much better than dematting or ‘refine edge’. Actually, the whole process, is generally much better than the other methods you may have used, or avoided, before.

As always, if you are a fan of Aaron’s teachings (and who isn’t?), be sure to check back here for updates, and follow along with Aaron on YouTube and Phlearn. You should also consider becoming quickly adept at Photoshop with the Phlearn Photoshop 101 & 201 sets as they are extremely comprehensive, and will have you quickly doing things with Photoshop you may have otherwise thought too complex, or didn’t even know you could do.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar

    loving you article !

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  2. Clare Havill

    Fab! Was trying (unsuccessfully) to change a background at the weekend. I’ll retry with this technique.

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  3. Steve Enoch

    Great Video!

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  4. Chuck Eggen

    Bravo Mr Nace! Thanks SLR for sharing these. I forget to check Phlearn but stay on top here. Keep the education coming.

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  5. Brandon Dewey

    Once again another great photoshop tips video!

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