Create Realistic Highlights

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Need to add some highlights to hair? How about some colored highlights? Just follow the simple steps bleow and you will be amazed how easy it is to create such realistic looking highlights and even rainbow hair!

Step 1:
Add New Layer

Create a new layer by clicking the new layer icon at the bottom of your layers panel (or any other method you prefer).

Step 2:
Add a Fill

Create a new fill by choosing EDIT/FILL from the top menu and select a color you want your highlights to be. For best results use a brighter color.

Step 3:
Layer Mask

Add a layer mask to your fill layer and fill the mask with black. An easy way to do this with one click is to just hold down ALT on PC or Option on Mac and click the add vector mask button at the bottom of your layers panel.

Step 4:
Outline Highlights

Paint white on your layer mask to create where the highlights will go. Don’t worry, it’s going to look like your painting your fill color on top of your image. We fix that in the next step.

Step 5:
Change Blend Mode/Fill

Now that you have your highlights laid out, change the fill layer’s blend mode to "Color Dodge", and drop it’s Fill to somewhere around 30%. This will make it blend well with the hair. But it still looks a bit off, just one more step to make it perfect.

Step 6:
Gaussian Blur

Add a Gaussian Blur to your fill layer with a Radius somewhere around 20px, just enough to give it a good blend into the hair without making it too blurry.

Final Result:

Now you should have a realistic set of highlights on your image. If it’s not looking quite right just play around with the Fill slider to get the highlights looking just right.


Extra Touchs:

Standard Highlights:

Not looking to add color to your model’s hair, but just a regular highlight? Just change your fill color to gray and play with that Fill slider to get them looking just right.

Rainbow Hair:

Don’t forget that your fill layer could be any color, it can even be a gradient. Grab your gradient tool, select the rainbow preset, drag a gradient on the models hair, and POW! You now have rainbow hair!

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