retouching stray hair in portrait

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retouching stray hair in portrait

Postby TPowers » August 13th, 2016, 12:41 pm

Can anyone offer ideas for efficient removal of stray hair in PW?

I have tried a couple different "obvious" ways but they have either been too laborious or unnatural at the edges of the hair outline.

have attached a section of image I am working on. You can see some cloning work I did but gave up on awaiting potential help.

retouch foliage hair help.jpg
retouch foliage hair help.jpg (153 KiB) Viewed 2856 times

Posts: 83
Joined: April 24th, 2009, 2:07 pm

Re: retouching stray hair in portrait

Postby MarkT » August 13th, 2016, 2:57 pm

Hello TPowers,

Here's a quick attempt, using a mask and the cloning tool:

stray_hair_removal.jpg (187.92 KiB) Viewed 2842 times

I used the freehand tool to roughly trace a line along the desired hairline, then feathered +2 and -5, a few times, then cloned the background over the unwanted hair. I'm sure if one spends more than the 45 seconds or so that I did, you could achieve more pleasing results.

I'm interested to hear what you and others come up with as a solution.


Posts: 288
Joined: September 13th, 2009, 3:19 pm
What is the make/model of your primary camera?: Nikon D810
Location: Port Coquitlam, British Columbia

Re: retouching stray hair in portrait

Postby Marpel » August 16th, 2016, 4:06 pm


Unfortunately, for this type of operation in PW, the old saying "there ain't no free lunch" pretty well sums it up.

The only real way to deal with removing a pixel, or pixels (in this case, hair) and replacing with another pixel (background) is to mask and/or clone. Some programs (the old Nikon NX2, I think and Photoshop also I believe) have a tool where you circle the offending spot and the program automatically searches the image and replaces the spot with the best match it can find for a seamless result (although not always perfect). However, PW requires the user to manually identify the best area to clone in, choose that area then blend it in using such methods as feathering etc. And, because I have had to do a lot of this type of process, believe me it can be tedious and you sometimes have to zoom in real close (I have cloned in at zoom levels of 1:1 and much higher).

Mark has made a good suggestions with generating a mask to protect hair that you don't wish to be spoiled, then just taking the time to clone out the offending hair.

To avoid the manual cloning, another method I have found sometimes works - You can find an area of the background that is a good match. Generate a mask to isolate the hairs you wish to replace (you don't have to be very accurate with the stray hairs, as long as the mask "surrounds" those hairs) and use that mask with the Input image, then use 1 point Composite Transformation with the Overlay image being a duplicate of the image you are working on. Move that Overlay image so the identified new background is in line with the area you wish to replace. Use the blend mode. Depending on how closely the patterns/tones/colours blend in, you may need to feather out the mask somewhat for a more pleasing blend. If you are afraid the mask will overlap into the hairs you wish to keep, you can generate a second mask that protects those hairs and use it with the Overlay image (just make sure to invert this mask before using in the Composite Transform or switch the two slider points in the Transform dialogue). You make have to feather this mask as well. So you are using two masks, one to isolate the composite and the second to further prevent that cloning from areas you do not wish to change.



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