Remove the background of a complex image (extracting hair)

Here is a very simple technique and very effective to remove any background regardless of its complexity.

Remove Hair

[tweetmeme]One of the most difficult backgrounds to remove is one that blends with the models hair, especially when it’s flying and with a not uniform background.

Here is a very simple technique and very effective in removing any background regardless of its complexity.

The image that we are going to use has a background of some complexity in addition the model has difficult curls to cut.

The first thing we do is go to our channel palette and select the red channel. We pull the channel and create a copy.

This copy will serve as an alpha channel. We change the name to: alpha

We activated the channels palette ONLY THE NEW CHANNEL: alpha. This channel will be used to make a mask. Paint all the background with black.

You have to be very precise; do not touch the hair area, it must continue in gray. All the background must be black

You’ll use brightness and contrast to maximize the brightness of whites and blacks

Inside the head you cannot have black areas so paint them white. Again do not touch the hair edges, they must remain in gray.

Activate all channels and deactivate alpha channel and return to Layers. In the top menu select:  select / load selection

In the dialog select the channel: alpha

Now we have a selection of the model. Select in the top menu: select / inverse or the keyboard: ctrl alt I to invert the selection. Remove the background with delete

Now create a new layer and paint it with different color from the original to reveal the fine details of hair (in this case red). 
 Now we have to adjust the tone of hair and its remnant of the original color. 
 Select only the part of the hair requiring retouching with lasso tool

Select: select / modify / feather and use in this case 6 pixels. 
 With the selection now adjust the color: image / adjustments / hue – saturation

Select the box colorize and play with the tones to get the right color and remove traces of blue

Now we only have refine certain areas of the hair, this we will do with the eraser tool.

Select a 32% opacity and 28% in flow.

Ready! Our hair looks great, now we can use different background colors and will work fine.


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Friday, March 26th, 2010 Tutorials

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Javier Cantero

I'm a graphic/web designer, entrepreneur and the founder of Designer Freelance. I hope we can share lots of information and ideas. You can follow me on Twitter @designerfree

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10 Comments to Remove the background of a complex image (extracting hair)

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