One of the nifty things about Photoshop is that you no longer have to waste money and time on going to a stylist just to try out a different hair color. With just the Quick Mask, the “Lighten” Layer Blending mode, the Hue/Saturation adjustment, and your photo, you can check out what a different colored hair will look like on you. In this tutorial, we’ll teach you how to do it using Adobe Photoshop CS5. It can also be done in earlier versions of Photoshop, but you’ll have to look for the menu and toolbars yourself as the locations and positions have changed in CS5.
First, open your image and add a surface blur. This is easily done by clicking Filter. Click Blur. Click Surface Blur. You only need a small amount of blur (roughly 2 pixels in radius or lower depending on your image), the image still needs to look clear and recognizable. This is important for image clarity if, for instance, projectors are even used to display the image on a larger scale.
Use Photoshop’s “Brush Tool” and select a brush size that will allow you to paint effectively on your image. Keep in mind that this will work like a real brush, in the sense that selecting something that’s too big will sacrifice your accuracy while selecting something that’s too small will result in you taking a lot of time just to color a small area. Make sure the brush tip you select is soft (e.g. the edges are slightly blurred)
Click the “Edit in Quick Mask Mode” button at the bottom of your toolbar, and use your brush to paint the portion of your hair that you want to modify, using the color that you want. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look right yet.
Now, exit the “Edit in Quick Mask Mode” by clicking its button again. This will result in the entire picture except the part that you want to color being selected. It may seem counter intuitive, but this is a commonly used tool in photoshop so you better get used to it.
Now, Click Select. Click Inverse, which will result in the selection being inverted, so that you now have only the hair parts you want to color as a selection. Then we’ll move to the final step:
In order to ensure that coloring will not destroy the original image, you should create a new layer from the selection by pressing CTRL C on your keyboard, and then pressing CTRL V to paste a copy of it as a new layer.
Now that you have the new layer (the copy) selected, click Image. Click Adjustments. Click Hue/Saturation and go crazy with the sliders until you get the color that you want. Intense color shades will work best.
Finally, change the blending mode of the dyed hair layer to “Lighten” and voila! You now have an image of yourself with a different colored hair. You can experiment on the dyed hair layer using the Hue/Saturation tool to come up with different colors, and sometimes you can add a slight blur to the layer for a better effect.
So now you know how to revamp your look like you’ve seen in the movies without paying a penny! A word of advice: once you decide which colour and style is for you, best leave it to the professionals. Read these 3 amazing tips to help you become a successful freelance graphic designer.
About the Author: Letta Frei is originally from East Germany. She studied graphic design and architecture in Berlin before moving to London to work as a freelance design consultant. Letta has a profound interest in writing about various topics including graphics, Photoshop, business and social media.