Advanced Hair Masking with Channels in Photoshop | PHLEARN

Are you tired of spending hours trying to achieve the perfect hair mask in Photoshop? Look no further! In this blog, we will introduce you to the advanced technique of hair masking using channels in Photoshop. Whether you’re a photographer, graphic designer, or simply someone who wants to enhance their images, mastering this skill will revolutionize your editing workflow. With the power of channels, you will be able to accurately separate hair from complex backgrounds, making it easier to create stunning composites or retouch portraits. Get ready to take your editing skills to the next level with this comprehensive guide on advanced hair masking with channels in Photoshop!

Advanced Hair Masking with Channels in Photoshop


Today, we will explore the topic of advanced hair masking with channels in Photoshop. Hair can be a challenging subject to select and cut out from an image, but with the help of channels, we can achieve better results and bring out more detail. Let’s dive into the process!

Step 1: Select Subject

To start, use the “Select Subject” tool in Photoshop by going to “Select” and then “Select Subject.” This automatic process selects your subject, but it may need some additional adjustments for hair and finer details.

Step 2: Refining Selection with Channels

After selecting your subject, load a layer mask by clicking on the layer mask icon. To better visualize the details of the hair, create a solid color fill layer beneath the subject and set it to white. Zoom in on the hair and observe the level of detail in the original image compared to your cutout.

Step 3: Accessing Channels

To utilize channels, revert your image back to its original state. Hold shift and click on the layer mask to temporarily disable it. Next, go to “Window” and then “Channels” to access the channels panel.

Selecting the Most Contrasting Channel

Different channels represent different levels of contrast in an image. When selecting a channel for hair masking, look for the one that provides the most contrast between the hair and the background. Typically, the blue channel is ideal for this purpose.

Step 4: Duplicating and Enhancing Contrast

Duplicate the blue channel by clicking and dragging it to the plus icon in the channels panel. To enhance the contrast, go to “Image,” “Adjustments,” and then “Levels” (or use the shortcut: Control/Command + L). Increase the darkness of the hair by adjusting the darks slider and slightly lighten the background by adjusting the lights slider.

Step 5: Turning Channel into a Selection

After enhancing the contrast, convert the channel into a selection. Simply hold Control/Command and click on the thumbnail of the channel or click on the circle icon with dots in the bottom right corner of the channels panel.

Step 6: Inversing the Selection

By default, the lighter areas are selected, focusing on the background rather than the hair. Inverse the selection by going to “Select” and then “Inverse.” This will ensure that the darker areas, such as the hair and clothing, are selected.

Step 7: Painting in the Hair Detail

Switch back to the layers panel and observe the layer mask. Hold Alt/Option and click on the layer mask to view it more clearly. If the selection overlay is distracting, press Control/Command + H to hide it temporarily. With the selection intact, use a brush tool to paint in the hair detail on the layer mask.

Step 8: Observing the Results

Zoom in on the hair to see the difference in detail after refining the layer mask through channels. By painting in the hair detail, you can achieve a more natural and accurate cutout of the subject. This technique can also be applied to other parts of the image that require more precise masking.


In conclusion, channels are an invaluable tool in Photoshop for advanced hair masking. By selecting the channel with the greatest contrast, enhancing it, and converting it into a selection, you can refine layer masks and bring out more detail in your cutouts. Incorporate this technique into your workflow for cleaner and more realistic results.

Advanced Hair Masking with Channels in Photoshop | PHLEARN FAQ

1. What is hair masking in Photoshop?

Hair masking refers to the process of accurately selecting and isolating hair strands or fur in an image to allow for various editing techniques.

2. Why is hair masking challenging?

Hair masking can be challenging because of the fine and intricate details of individual hair strands, which make it difficult to create precise selections.

3. What are channels in Photoshop?

Channels in Photoshop are grayscale images that store specific color information. These include the red, green, blue, and alpha channels.

4. How can channels help with hair masking?

Channels provide a powerful tool for creating hair masks. By analyzing the contrast and brightness information in different channels, you can generate selections that accurately capture hair strands.

5. What is the process of hair masking using channels?

The process involves duplicating a channel that provides the best contrast for hair selection, adjusting levels or curves to enhance contrast further, making selections using tools like the Magic Wand or Quick Selection tool, refining the mask using brushes and adjustment layers, and ultimately isolating the hair for editing.

6. Are there any alternatives to channel-based hair masking?

Yes, there are alternative methods such as the Select and Mask workspace, using the Pen tool, or utilizing specialized third-party plugins for hair masking.

7. Is hair masking only used for editing hairstyles?

No, hair masking can be used for various purposes, including changing hair color, removing or adding hair, creating realistic composites, or applying selective edits to hair without affecting the background or other elements in the image.

8. Where can I learn more about advanced hair masking in Photoshop?

You can learn more about advanced hair masking techniques in Photoshop by checking out resources like the PHLEARN website, which offers comprehensive tutorials and courses on this topic.

I hope you find useful my article Advanced Hair Masking with Channels in Photoshop | PHLEARN, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

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