Skin correction is about subtlety, with eyes, specially the irises, I can go a beyond subtle. Hair is somewhere in between – especially colour.
There are generally two effects I apply to hair – sharpening and colour adjustment. But in this photo of H, he has no hair – it’s all under his hat! I should have picked a better (or do I mean worse?) photo to show my post processing of a portrait. In this case, I shall explain what I do for hair by using his beard; something I’ve never done before but it should work.
Of course, I start off with a new lay group and call it “hair”.
I sharpen just the highlights of hair to give a “more shine” look. This is done by using a high pass filter, and then a mask to limit the amount of effect it has on areas of hair (as well as the usual, layer opacity to turn down the whole effect).
This technique can also be used to sharpen eyebrows and eyelashes (or to sharpen anything for that matter) but I would these separately from hair because they would require slightly different options.
I duplicate the background layer, usually by pressing Ctrl-J, or you can drag the background layer over the “Create a new layer” icon. I drag this layer into the new hair layer group and rename it to sharp. This is layer that I perform my sharpening on. By carrying out sharpening on this layer, instead of the image directly, I can then make use of layer controls such as blending, masks and opacity. I could also make this layer a “smart object” to give me option of later adjusting the sharpening that I’m about to apply, but I’ve never (well, not yet) had to have that flexibility.
This duplicate layer will not have all the skin and eyes corrections that have been applied, but that’s ok, since I’m ultimately only going to be working on hair.
Now to actually sharpen the image, with the new sharp layer highlighted, on the menu select Filter > Other > High Pass…. I use a lowish number of 8 to 12px, just enough to start to see a little colour bleeding in. Basically, the higher the number, the more sharpening. In his case, I chose 10px. Now I end with a horrible grey mess!
And then, just change the blending mode to Overlay.
Now it’s sharp, but everything is sharp,and it’s all probably a bit too sharp as well!
To sharpen just the hair it is a simple matter of using a layer mask. I select the hair, and the eyebrows and sometimes eyelashes. I usually have eyebrows and eyelashes less sharp than hair highlights but that will be taken care of shortly.
In this slightly contrived example, I’ll select his beard,but this means that I’ll also be including some of his skin in this hair processing which is not something that I want. The hair that I really want to sharpen is hair highlights,and often the fringe. After doing this for this gentleman’s beard, I think that unless the man has a full beard, don’t do it! But I’ll labour on.
Save the selection, apply a largish feathering by using Shift-F6 or menu Select > Modify > Feather…. I used 20px in this case. Then I add a mask of this selection to the sharp filter by clicking the Add layer mask icon.
I next lower the layer opacity until I get the area of hair I want the sharpest looking right. For all other hair that shouldn’t be as sharp, or not sharp at all, I use a large brush with a low flow, 20%, to paint black on areas of the mask. I paint over eyebrows a few times, and dark areas of hair. Ultimately, the hair highlights are left sharp.
For H in this photo, I turned down the layer opacity quite a bit, as well as masked quite a lot. I should have a picked a photo with a head of hair to show the sharpening and it’s effect :(
Sharpen is fairly mechanical and straight forward, but playing with hair colour is fun! Especially if you’re working on a photo of someone with wild hair colour. Working on hair colour is also great to reduce those strands of grey ;)
There a a few easy ways to play with hair colour, by using the hair selection that was saved, I usually use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, or sometimes a curves adjustment layer.
Have a look at how the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer was created for Eye Whites. Of course, for hair, I am not trying to lower the red, usually I increase it a little.
And then have a look at Irises – levels adjustments to see how a curves adjustment layer is created.
Typically, I make hair a little darker, and more saturated. But I’m not going to do that for his beard!
Post process series
Post processing part 1 – What post processing?
Post processing part 2 – The shot
Post processing part 3 – Nice skin
Post processing part 4 – Dazzling eyes
Post processing part 5 – Brilliant hair
Post processing part 6 – Cool clothes (soon)
Post processing part 7 – Final tweaks (soon)