Who doesn't love the idea of rainbow hair? With a focus on Pride over the summer months, we thought it was the perfect time to roll out the rainbow carpet and show you a couple of easy ways to create rainbow hair in Adobe Photoshop.
If you'd like to follow along with the tutorial, you can download the free images here:
Method 1: Brush On
First, duplicate the background layer. It's always best not to work on your original image, just in case you make a mistake with destructive changes to that layer.
Then, create a new blank layer and call it Colour.
Using a round brush, select your rainbow colours one at a time and paint over the hair. You can be a little messy here as we'll tidy it up soon.
Change the Blend Mode of your painted colour layer to Overlay.
Next, apply a filter to the colour layer. With the colour layer selected, select Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and in the dialogue box, move the Radius slider until the edges between the colours blend better.
Create a Hue/Saturation Layer
Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and create a clipping mask against your colour layer (right click on the Hue-Saturation layer and select Create Clipping Mask) so the hue/saturation adjustments only apply to the painted hair colours. Drop the Saturation and decrease the Lightness slightly to better blend the colours with the hair.
Add a layer mask to your colour layer and with a soft brush, paint out any areas where you can see colour where you don't want it to be, such as over the skin.
Adjust Layer Opacity
Fine tune the colour effect, if needed, by adjusting the Opacity of the colour layer.
Take it Further
If you want to jazz up your image even more, try adding a colourful or sparkly Photoshop action.
I'm going to use Lucent Photoshop action on this image. For many actions like this one, you need to create a new layer above your background and call the layer Brush. You might also have to install a brush as well as the action. Each action comes with a Read Me file that will tell you exactly what you need to do to run the action.
Using black and a soft brush on the brush layer, paint over any area of your image where you don't want the effect to be applied. This can be quite messy.
Run the action. This can take quite a while because there are a number of layers created.
Once the action has finished, use the created layer masks to brush some detail back into your subject's face.
Method 2: Add a Rainbow Gradient Layer
For the second method, I thought it would be fun to give a splash of colour to some beard hair as well!
Brush Over Your Subject
Create a new blank layer and call it Colour. Using any colour brush on the colour layer, paint over any hair you want to transform.
Add a Gradient
Double click the colour layer to get the Layer Style panel and select Gradient Overlay. In the dialogue box, change the Gradient to one of the rainbow styles (or whatever you fancy).
Blur the Layer
As you did in Method 1, select the colour layer and then blur the colours by selecting Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Drag the Radius slider until the colours in the gradient blend a little better.
Tidy Up and Fine Tune
Tidy up any sloppy edges where colour has been applied to skin or other areas where you don't want the effect by creating a layer mask for the colour layer and brushing out any colour effect that shouldn't be there.
Finally, decrease the opacity of the colour layer until the colour looks right for the model's hair and skin tone.
Take it Further
This time, I'll use the Magic Dust Photoshop Action to add some sparkle to the image. This action also requires a brush layer as in Method 1, so create a new layer and call it Brush. This time, use any colour brush to brush in where you would like the effect to appear.
Run the action. Again, as with the previous action we used, this may take a while.
Few things can't be improved with the addition of sparkles, and using pre-made actions like these are a quick and easy way to achieve that while still being able to manipulate the effect to suit your own taste.
Have fun with these two quick methods for creating rainbow hair. Now that you know the techniques, you may think of other situations where you'd like to apply a similar effect.
If you'd like to get into a little more depth with changing hair colour, Monika Zagrobelna has written a useful tutorial on How to Realistically Change Hair and Fur Colour in Adobe Photoshop. Her tutorial walks you through options for being more precise about where in the hair the effect is applied.
Share your results in the comments below. I'd love to see what you do.
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