Changing your hair color can be a fun way to switch up your look. With Photoshop, you can easily try out new hair colors before committing to anything permanent. In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through how to change hair color in Photoshop using layers, masks and blending modes.
What You Need
Here are the basic things you’ll need to change hair color in Photoshop:
- A photo of yourself with your current hair color
- Photoshop (any recent version will work)
- An idea of what hair color you want to try
To get started, open your photo in Photoshop. It’s best to use a high-quality photo that clearly shows your hair. Make sure the background is a solid color or easily removable, as this will make selecting your hair easier.
Select Your Hair
The first step is to select your hair area so that you isolate just your hair to color. Here are a few ways to make a good hair selection in Photoshop:
- Quick selection tool – Select your hair area quickly using the Quick Selection Tool. You may need to manually refine the edges.
- Channels method – Use the Channels panel to create an accurate selection based on your hair’s color and tones.
- Layer mask – Create a layer mask on a duplicate layer to non-destructively mask out your hair.
I recommend the layer mask method for the most flexibility. Here are the steps:
- Duplicate the background layer by pressing Ctrl/Cmd + J.
- Add layer mask to this duplicate layer by clicking the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
- Use the Brush tool (B) set to black to paint over the areas that aren’t your hair, hiding those areas.
- Switch the brush to white to bring back any areas you may have painted over by accident.
This gives you a layer mask that reveals only your hair, with the ability to tweak it as needed.
Add Your New Hair Color
Once your hair is isolated, you can add a new color. Create a new layer above your masked layer:
- Click the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
- Go to Edit > Fill and fill this layer with your desired hair color.
- Set the layer Blending Mode to Color.
This will tint your original hair with the new color, blending it seamlessly. You can sample color from anywhere or use hexadecimal color codes for very precise color selections.
If needed, you can make adjustments to get the color looking just right:
- Masking – Use a layer mask to fine tune your colored layer, masking out areas or varying the opacity.
- Hue/Saturation – Adjust the hue, saturation, and lightness to get the exact shade you want.
- Color balance – Use the Color Balance adjustment layer to shift the balance of hues.
Add adjustment layers instead of applying changes directly, so your adjustments are non-destructive. Try different blending modes like Overlay, Soft Light, or Color Dodge to blend the tone.
To make your new hair color look more realistic, you’ll need to add some dimension. Hair has lots of tones and depth, which a flat color will lack. Here are some tips:
- Lowlights – Add a darker version of your color to the lowlight areas to add depth.
- Highlights – Use a lighter, desaturated version on the highlights.
- Texture – Add texture with noise filters to give hair strand detailing.
- Blending – Use Soft Light and Overlay blending to blend the tones together.
Build up multiple layers of highlights and lowlights, masking each one to precisely place them. This will give your hair color a rich, dimensional look.
Tips for Realistic Hair
Here are some additional tips for making your Photoshopped hair more realistic:
- Use a subtle Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the hair slightly. Oversaturated hair looks fake.
- Add some flyaway wisps around the hairline and ears.
- Soften and blur the hair’s edges just slightly.
- Add shadows to match the light source. Use Color Dodge blending.
- Give blonde hair some yellow/orange tones to look natural.
Taking the time to add those subtle details will help sell the authenticity of your new hair color.
Try Different Looks
The benefit of Photoshop is that you can experiment and try out lots of different hair colors. Keep your adjustments on separate layers to easily go back and make changes. Here are some ideas to try:
- Go platinum blonde
- Try an ombre look
- Go bright redhead
- Pastel rainbow colors
- Icy white blonde
Let your creativity run wild! Having a plain background makes this easy to do. Change your hair daily if you like.
Photoshop makes it easy to reinvent your hair color in minutes. With a few clipping masks, blend modes, and color adjustments, you can rock any hair color you can imagine!
Follow this process:
- Select your hair area
- Fill a layer with your new color
- Make adjustments to get it just right
- Add dimension and detailing
- Have fun trying different looks
In no time, you can see yourself with beautiful new hair. Take your Photoshopped makeover as inspiration for your next real hair color change!
|Blonde||Cool, neutral, warm, brassy||Touch up roots every 4-6 weeks|
|Brown||Ash, golden, reddish||Color every 6-8 weeks|
|Black||Neutral, warm, cool||Refresh color every 4-6 weeks|
|Red||Copper, auburn, burgundy||Fade resistant, touch up every 6-8 weeks|