How to Mask Hair in Photoshop Using Color Range

Table of Contents

Mask thumb

Table of Contents

01. How to mask

Masking out a subject can prove to be a difficult task, depending on the quality of your image and the complexity of the subject you wish to isolate. Fortunately, Photoshop has your back and provides a plethora of options when it comes to masking.

02. How to select

The first step is to select your subject. This can be done in many ways. The quick selection tool was for a long time my go-to method, but with the arrival of the new object selection tool, this might no longer be the case. It is very simple to use and makes a fairly accurate selection.


After you made your selection click on the “add layer mask” and voila, you have a rough mask.

Clicking on the mask layer, you can refine it. This layer works in shades of grey, black hides pixels, white reveals them. You can use the brush tool to make adjustments.

03. How to mask hair

Refine edges.
For complex shapes like hair, or fur you can use the refine edge brush tool. You run it along theedge of the subject and it will automatically separate your subject from the background. You can access this tool by double-clicking on the mask layer.
In this new workspace, I prefer to set the view mode to “On black” and set the opacity to around 85%. You will find the refine edge tool on the left side.

Refine edge tool

After you refined those edges hit OK, and the mask will be refined..

How to get rid of halo around the edges?

There are three ways I know of to deal with the dreaded halo. Each is different, and have their pros and cons.

First: Brush tool with overlay

 After using the refine edge tool, most of the time there will be a halo left behind. There are multiple ways to get rid of this. First, you can select the brush tool, and in the blending mode select overlay. Click on the mask and select either black or white color, depending on what you need to do, add or remove pixels. With the overlay selected the brush tool now will affect only the pixels that are already present on the mask. Try brushing over and you’ll see what I mean.

Be careful though, while using the brush you may hide relevant pixels as well.

Second: Clone stamp tool

I found this alternative method to be just as good, or even better, especially when it comes to fur. What you need to do is duplicate your layer with the image, remove the mask from the top layer, hover your cursor on the edge separating the two layers. Now hold down alt and the cursor should change to a downward pointing arrow with a little square next to it. Click now and the top layer will affect only the pixels of the layer directly below it. Now on the top layer, that you just duplicated, select the clone stamp tool, take a sample from the hair or fur, and stamp on the edge. Go around your subject like this and the halo shall disappear.

Third: Hue saturation

In some cases, if the original background has a strong color, it may show up after you finished masking. What you can try is using the hue saturation adjustment layer. Create a Hue adjustment layer, and just as I mentioned with the clone stamp tool above, alt-click between the edges of the layers so this new adjustment layer will only affect the layer directly below it. Now select the adjustment layer and chose the appropriate color range. In our example, we had the sky in the background, so we selected the cyan.

Hue saturation color range adjustment

Set the hue and saturation slider to the max so you can clearly see which pixels are affected. Adjust this slider until only the pixels you wish to hide are selected. Now adjust the hue and saturation slider until you match the color of the hair of your subject. You can see how the blue disappears.

How mask hair in photoshop
Picture of Gergő Sztuchlak

Gergő Sztuchlak

I'm Gergő, co-founder of DesignerDude, and resident UX and graphic design guru. With over a decade of experience, I'm a design Swiss Army Knife - versatile, multi-functional, and always ready to tackle whatever challenge comes my way (except maybe spiders, as I'm not so great with those). When I'm not busy crafting beautiful designs, you can usually find me geeking out over the latest design trends or convincing my co-founders that we need a company mascot (seriously, who doesn't love a good mascot?). As a designer, I have a keen eye for detail, a love of typography, and a knack for making everything just a little more awesome. So, if you're looking for a designer who can bring some wit and wisdom to your project and a lot of experience, you've come to the right place. It's nice to meet you!

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