Hair

Clipping Magic can help you separate out hair from clean and distinct backgrounds. Gradients and some noise typically work, as long as the colors involved are sufficiently different. Studio shots and photos with e.g. a clear blue sky as the background usually work well.

Step-by-step tutorial

In the tutorial below we remove the background from the hair in this photo. You can follow along with this written tutorial, or try out this image for yourself in the Editor. View Example In Editor »

The example edits are slightly different from the tutorial below.

1. Start as usual

Mark foreground and background as usual, until you have a decent rough-cut result where the hair is cropped into a bit of a bob, but otherwise pretty good.

Original + Marks

Original tutorial image with marks

Result

result tutorial image

2. Highlight the hair

Use the Hair Brush and highlight the hair.

Original + Marks

Original tutorial image with marks

Result

result tutorial image
Clip Tip:

Stay pretty tight to the area that is actually partially transparent.


3. Touch up (Optional)

Zoom in and add select background and foreground pixel-level marks in the hair area to erase veils or bring back lost strands of hair.

To make this easier, the foreground and background brushes are automatically shrunk to single-pixel size when over hair.

Original + Marks

Original tutorial image with marks

Result

result tutorial image
Clip Tip:

Zoom far in - you really want the marks to hit as close to 100% foreground or background as possible.

Tips & Tricks

Cycle Background Color

Cycle the background color to better see what the result would look like when put onto different backgrounds.

Original + Marks

Original tutorial image with marks

Result

result tutorial image

How It Works

The algorithm works by taking the colors along the boundary of the hair marks, assigning them to foreground and background based on the initial clip, and then reconstructing the interior based on that. This means that the boundary of the hair region must be consistent with the foreground and background colors inside of it.

Cover The Boundary

Normally you want the hair marks to cover the dashed yellow-black foreground-background boundary. If your marks are close to the boundary but don't cross it, then chances are that will cause the algorithm to misinterpret what is foreground and what is background. This risks introducing gaps or retaining background patches in the result.

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Original + Marks

Original tutorial image with marks

×

Result

result tutorial image

Be sure to cover the boundary well.

Don't Cover Conflicting Colors

Sometimes the color of the person's shoulder can overlap with the colors in the hair background. Accidentally covering the shoulder with hair marks will then cause the algorithm to include these overlapping colors as both foreground and background candidates. This at best leads to a mediocre result.

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Original + Marks

Original tutorial image with marks

×

Result

result tutorial image

Be sure to erase any hair marks that include conflicting colors.


Pre-Crop


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