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In Photoshop CS5 Essential Training, author Michael Ninness demonstrates how to produce the highest quality images with fantastic detail in the shortest amount of time, using a combination of Photoshop CS5, Adobe Bridge, and Camera Raw. This course shows the most efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, Michael shares the secrets of non-destructive editing, utilizing and mastering Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, layers, adjustment layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more. Exercise files are included with the course.
From time to time, you might need to get rid of some flyaway hairs, to just not make them so distracting in a particular portrait. Let's go ahead and take a look at this image. We will do Command+1 or Ctrl+1 to take it back to 100%. I will press the letter F to get us into Full Screen. I am going to hold down the Spacebar and just pan this around, so you can see some areas that I want to retouch: the hair going across the ear here and this little hair here. When we get to the top of the head, you will see there is some flyaway hairs that we either want to trim or just downplay and not make as long. So, let's get started. Let's go ahead and get the tool of choice, the Spot Healing Brush tool.
Now, the default setting for the type of replacement the Spot Healing Brush tool uses is Proximity Match. You will see that that's not the best default, and I will show you why. I am going to go ahead and use Proximity Match. Before I actually start retouching though, I do want to create a Retouch layer. I am going to Option or Alt click on the New layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and we will call this Hair as we create that layer. So, that way, if we have a ton of layers later on, we will know that that's the layer that we did our retouching of the hair on. Okay. So, back to the type. It's a Proximity Match. If I go ahead and start painting through this particular ear.
So, you can see here, Photoshop guessed that it should use the hair pixels to retouch over that ear - not the best choice. Let's go ahead and undo that, Command+Z, Ctrl+Z. Instead, we are going to use Content-Aware. This should really just be the default option. Again, the good news is that this will remain sticky. If you choose Content-Aware, it will stay that way until you change it back. Of course, make sure Sample All layers is turned on, so that's going to retouch all the way through the layer stack and put the results on that Hair layer. Now, I will do that same stroke, starting at the end of that hair, all the way through the ear, into the hair there.
And you can see it did a much better job of guessing which pixels to use while still retaining that ear. Pretty darn cool! So, with Content-Aware as the option, you really have a lot less to worry about. You can just start clicking and dragging in the image directly. And most of the time, you are just going to get the result you need the first time. If not, you can just try again, just by painting back over the area. Let's see how that works as we go around this image. So, let's bring in some of those flyaway hairs here. I will just shape this a little bit at the bottom, just to give it a nice shape. I will just hold down the Spacebar, and you can see there is some flyaway hairs here.
So, we will just go ahead and paint through them. I am using a tablet and a pen, so it makes it a lot easier to do retouching. I highly recommend a Wacom Pen Tablet. You can get them pretty cheap these days on eBay or craigslist, or you can buy them new, of course. But I find there is quite a few of them, as people upgrade to the newer versions, and you can get older ones real cheap. All right. So, we will go ahead and retouch these stray hairs. Again, we are just clicking and dragging and not having to worry about sampling. Because Content-Aware is turned on, it knows to guess more accurately the pixels that it should use or borrow within the image to do a better job.
And this is looking pretty darn good and pretty darn quick. So, let's go through and get rid of that. And then I want to show you, again, another kind of cool example of Content-Aware and why it's so cool. So, see that there's this hair here, this dark hair, and it's behind these other hairs, going this direction. I want to get rid of that hair, for instance, but I want to maintain these hairs for some reason. Watch what Content-Aware does. I am going to go right through that, and it retains those individual hairs. So, here is before, and there is after. I will just kind of go through that again.
And it does a really good job of keeping those other hairs there. Now, if I want to get rid of those, of course, I can just paint over them as well. But just to show you how Content- Aware is a really powerful option and just makes the Spot Healing Brush tool really powerful. And I find that 90% of the time, it's the only retouching tool I need to use anymore, which makes it pretty exciting, so I don't have to think about switching from tool to tool. I can just start in that tool and stay there. All right. So, this is pretty quick work. We can just go ahead and decide which hairs we want to get rid of.
And because I have done this on a separate layer, of course, I can always turn this on and off to kind of see the results and compare it. So, here is before, and there is after, and I am just turning the Visibility of that layer on and off. And you can decide if any particular area isn't the result you want. You can always delete those pixels on that layer and start over again. It's really up to you. It gives you a lot of flexibility and a lot of power to really control what's going to end up happening in your final retouch composite. Okay. So, the Spot Healing Brush tool, it's not just for spots. It's for all sorts of retouching tasks, including flyaway hairs.
The trick is to always do it on a separate layer. Give that layer a name that makes sense. Make sure Content-Aware is chosen for your options, for the type of replacement it's going to do. And Sample All layers is turned on. I will go back to Fit to Window, Command+0 or Ctrl+0. And here is before, and there is after. So, it makes quick work of, not just spots and blemishes and skin, but also little details like flyaway hair.
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