About a year ago, Pratik Naik wrote an article about a video the guys at FX-Ray made regarding hair retouching. At the time I found the video very interesting and quite educative. The only problem I had with the technique described was recreating a realistic looking texture. Since then I have found a perfect solution with Aaron Blaise's custom brushes. Best of all they work with almost any hair texture you could possibly be up against.
Hair Brushes With A Realistic Look
Let’s start by saying that I am usually not a fan of custom brushes. I love my Wacom tablet and like to use either a soft or hard brush and customize it on the fly. It has worked perfectly for everything except hair! Hair takes time to draw, especially when it recreates only one hair at a time. Recently I stumbled upon Blaise’s website and saw his amazing work and tutorials. For those who don't know Blaise, he was a drawer and animation director at Walt Disney for quite some time. If you have seen a Walt Disney movie in your life, you most likely have seen his work without even knowing.
What really got me excited about his website were the custom brushes he offers. Some might not be really interesting for photographers or retouchers, but the pack with custom hair brushes is simply amazing. Whether you retouch animal or human hair, you will find a few useful brushes. But better than my words or a demo I could make, here is a video Blaise created to present his brushes:
Now you might be wondering how you can use these brushes when retouching. Well, you can use it either on dodge and burn layouts to give more “pop” to the hair or you could also use it to recreate texture in a frequency separation on the high frequency layer (even better: on a blank clipping mask clipped to the high frequency layer). Oftentimes I use a mix of both techniques. Here is a sample image where I actually added hair and then cleaned the other side:
The pack contains 24 brushes. Some will probably be useless to those that do not photograph or retouch animals, but you could be creative and use them on wigs or beards. Before finding these brushes, retouching hair was an absolute nightmare. I used to hate retouching hair! Now, even though it still takes time and is not always a pleasure to do, I find it much easier and the results just look way better with less time spent.
Last but not least, the price. While you might think these brushes would be expensive because they are so great, they actually only cost $5! If you are a retoucher, this is a must have. For more information or to buy Blaise's brushes, you can head over to his website, Creature Art Teacher.
[via Glyn Dewis]