TUTORIALS • Page 1 of 4
Photoshop Painting Techniques: Hair and Fur
Using advanced Paint Engine functions to create custom effects
by David Nagel

If you haven't already, you will at some point in your design career be forced to composite hair or fur into a project. The specific reason isn't important. But how are you going to do it? Use a plugin? Not any of the ones I've seen. Copy and paste hair from another image? Too much of a pain, what with the complex masking and color matching. So what will you do, paint the hair follicle by follicle? Absolutely. But it isn't anywhere near as time-consuming as it sounds. With the tools available in the Photoshop 7 Paint Engine, you can generate hair and fur with as much detail as you like in almost no time at all.

In the olden days, there weren't any really great ways to create hair and fur effects. But Photoshop 7 will allow you to design your hair strand by strand and generate a highly complex effect with little effort. The example below took maybe a half hour from shoot to final composite.

This kind of scraggly beard style isn't the only effect you can create with this technique, but it is a good starting point for getting you to understand how something like this can work in Photoshop 7.[an error occurred while processing this directive]Creating your brush tip and setting dynamics
If you're not familiar at all with Photoshop 7's Paint Engine, this tutorial is going to give you a little insight that will make you wonder how you ever got along without it. If you don't want to create this brush yourself, you can wait until I post my collection of hair and fur brushes next week. But for the more adventurous among you, here's how you do it.

To begin with this particular example, we first need to create a new brush tip shape. Create a new document with a transparent background. Select a dark gray color swatch, and then switch to the Brush tool and select one of the preset brushes--the "Hard Round 3 Pixels" brush in this case.

Draw some squiggly lines that overlap. Make sure you make at least one of the lines fairly long, and be sure to make them curly. If you have a pressure-sensitive tablet, vary the stroke width by easing off the pen. Getting this brush tip shape just right may tale a little time, but you will get there with just a few tries. Here's the squiggle I've drawn for this example, and it's the only one I've used in creating the sample image above.

Now choose Edit > Define Brush, and give your brush a name. Now your custom brush is stored in the Brushes palette. Open it up and select the new brush (if it isn't already selected) to get a gander at it.

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