Hair Texture Photoshop Tutorial

I must say, the hair is almost the only thing i buy in SL. 😀 Thats not because i couldnt have made it myself. It’s because it costs too much time to create hair to be worth it. It’s much better to go and buy a 4-pack or something for just L$195. But! I am verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry picky 🙂

Nevertheless, I have seen so many wonderful hair styles out there! The only thing i am often very disappointed at, is that lots of those styles have not so impressive textures what after all makes them look quite unnatural. I’m a drow quite a lot of my SL time so i tend to buy lots of white hair styles. But unfortunally, many hair makers dont seem to like to spend as much time on white texture as they do on other more natural colours. Not to mention that some of those hair designers even ignore white completely!! 😦

After having bought awesome hair styles only to discover it’s unacceptable to wear with the original white texture, i have decided to make my own white texture i would be satisfied with. After all, it’s still not that much time to just apply a couple of textures as it would be to create the entire hairstyle from scratch.

And because there are so many ugly hair textures out there, i decided to go ahead and share my way of making more realistic looking hair textures in Photoshop (PS). 🙂

Ok, i’m using PS version 8, but i suppose it’s not that much different in other versions. I assume you are familiar with the user interface of PS and know where to find different tools and filters. 🙂

  1. Create a new 256×256 picture with transparent background. (File -> New)
  2. Pick a colour you want the darkest shades of your hair to have, select Bucket tool and click on your picture once. (Click on the pictures in this tutorial to enlarge)

  3. Now pick a colour you want the light shades of your hair to have, select Brush tool, select soft brush with the diameter around 65. Now draw 2 horizontal lines across your picture. Dont worry if it’s not entirely straight, it’s not important anyway.

  4. Go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise. Select Gaussian and check Monochromatic. The amount should be something around 10%. Click OK.

  5. Now go to Filter -> Brush Strokes -> Sprayed Strokes. Set Stroke Length to 20 (max), Spray Radius to 25 (max), Stroke Direction to Vertical, hit OK.

  6. Go to Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur. Set Angle to 90, Distance to something like 75 pixels, and hit OK. Now it’s looking more like it, huh 😉

  7. Now we are going to enhance the highlights and the shadows of our hair to make it look more realistic. Select Burn Tool, select brush diameter around 45, set Range to Midtones, set Exposure to around 8-10%. Then paint around the darkest parts of your picture with a few brush strokes (on the picture below the area indicated with dotted green line). Remember: the longer you keep the mouse button pressed while drawing over the same area, the darker the painted area gets.

  8. You should see it getting a bit darker, something like this would do:

  9. To enhance the highlights, select Dodge Tool. Select brush diameter around 35, set Range to Highlights, set Exposure to 8%. Then paint around the lightest parts of your hair with the few brush strokes (on the picture below the area is indicated with dotted green line). Dodge Tool works just like the Burn Tool: the longer you keep the mouse button pressed while drawing over the same area, the lighter the painted area gets. So don’t overdo it 😉

  10. You should get something like this:

  11. Quite neat, huh 😉 Now you can save it as a TGA file, or as JPG, it doesnt matter here, as long as this pictures doesn’t have the alpha channel or any transparency in it.

  12. Ok, now you have the texture for the strands of hair somewhere in the middle of your hair style. But for the more natural look you will also have to to have hair strands with more defined hair ends. That’s why we’re going to add an alpha channel to our hair texture, with the defined hair ends.

  13. So far we didnt have any alpha channel in our texture. Now we’re going to create it. Go to the Channels tab and press New Channel button to create a new alpha channel. The new channel automatically gets selected and your beautiful hair texture goes black 😀 Dont be afraid, now you’re going to be working in the alpha channel 😛

  14. Still in alpha channel, select Polygonal Lasso Tool. Now make a selection, something like on the picture below (white area + green dotted line), make sure your foreground colour is white, hit Shift+F5 with the selection still active, and select Foregrond Colour and hit OK. It should fill your selection with white and you should get something like on the picture below. Dont forget to press Ctrl+D after that, to deselect all.

  15. Still in the alpha channel, go to Filter -> Brush Strokes -> Sprayed Strokes. Set Stroke Length to 20 (max), Spray Radius to 18, Stroke Direction to Vertical, and hit OK.

  16. Still with the alpha channel active, go to Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur. Set Angle to 90, Distance to something like 18-20 pixels, and hit OK.

  17. Now, select Brush tool, soft brush around 13 pixels, and draw a line along the lower edge of the picture, to clean it up: to make sure it’s all black, and there are no white pixels left on the lower edge, we want to make the lowest edge completely transparent.

  18. Now you’re actually all done 🙂 so you can skip this step if you really want to. However, if you’re a perfectionist like me, you might probably want to do one last step: Select Dodge Tool again, set Brush to around 15 pixels, Set Range to Shadows, set Exposure to 25%. And paint over the highest peaks of black to make them fade even more smoothly into white (green dotted area on the picture below).

  19. Now you just have to save your texture as a 32 bits TGA file with another name than your first hair texture. And thats it 😀

So what we did in the steps 1)-8) we created the basis hair texture without transparency/alpha channel. In the steps 9)-15) we created the alpha channel for the second hair texture which has transparency in it. Now you can apply your own custom hair textures to any hairstyle you’ve bought (well, with mod perms, that is) 😛

Hopefully my first tutorial ever was quite comprehensive. 🙂 If you still have any questions, feel free to post a comment.

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~ by cavernaobscura on Monday, September 29, 2008.

22 Responses to “Hair Texture Photoshop Tutorial”

  1. Thanks for sharing, nice tutorial.
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  2. Now my favorite clothing designer is also my favorite blogger 😉

  3. great tut just wish i had PS instead of elements.. no channels only layers so im lost after step 8 🙂

  4. Wow!!That’s what I’ve benn looking for for a long time~!!
    Thanks for sharing this tutorial~~

  5. Perfect for me!!!

  6. Part 2 of the tutorial when uploading to the previewer, the second layer disappears the color completely after upload of opacity TGA.

    • hmm i’m not sure i understand what is exactly your problem… the colored layer becomes completely transparent? or you don’t have any transparent areas at all?

  7. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial. It is exactly what I have been looking for. 🙂
    You wouldn’t happen to know how to make the curly hair textures as well? Here’s hoping.

  8. When I try to save the alpha both as targa and png I get no transparency at all. When I try to upload to SL I get a solid image. I am using photoshop 7.

    • if you followed the tutorial up to the #15 then there’s no point in saving it as png: it will be solid because there is no transparency on the layers. You have to save it as 32 bit TGA, it is very important! I think you get the solid result because you saved it as a 24 bit TGA, and not 32 bit. You should get this popup after you do Save As, type the file name and hit OK. Also, make sure that you actually do work with Channels starting with point #9 on of the tutorial.

      If you want to save it as PNG you will have to do something else first. >> After #14, make sure you are in the Channels palette , with your Alpha channel selected, then click on this channel in the Channels palette while holding the CTRL key. This will create the selection from the alpha channel. Then, go to the Layers palette, select the working layer, you should see colours in your picture again. Then, hit CTRL+SHIFT+I to invert the selection, then hit DELETE. You should see the bottom of the picture become transparent. Now you can save it as PNG. 🙂

  9. Excellent! Thank You very much!

  10. Thanks so much for the tutorial its awesome easy step by step help ^_^ yayyyyyy my frist hair texture

  11. This is so fantastic and just what I was looking for!!!!

  12. wow !! the best totrial i seen ever !!
    thanks dud !!

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  14. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I had been searching everywhere for one that showed how to add the alpha layer. This was easy to follow and perfect. one happy student here 🙂

  15. Thans for sharing, will be trying this technique next time I paint hair 🙂

  16. Hello,
    Fantastic Tutorial!! I seem to be having a bit of trouble with the last steps adding the alpha channel. It stays black and doesnt clear out the bottom even after saving. I am Aluviel Nakamura in world.

  17. simply irresistible !!!!!

  18. oMG, You made this seem simple. It looks faboo!! THANK YOU!!

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