My friend and neighbor Jordan Rudess, keyboardist with Dream Theater (and macProVideo instructor!) asked me a couple of years ago to help him out with a quick project - shooting some promo images of him holding a new Roland keyboard. It all came up at very short notice, so that afternoon we went into my front yard and used a little Sony digital camera to shoot some images. In the rush, though, Jordan managed to forget to shave his head, and when we reviewed the shots, asked me if I could get rid of his stubble.
In this tutorial, I'm going to show you one quick 'n' easy Photoshop approach to this problem.
We need to work at the maximum resolution available to get a good, close shave here.
The Clone Stamp Tool (which you also choose by hitting "S" on your keyboard) lets you paint into an image with pixels you pick up from other areas in the image, and is the ideal tool for this job - we're going to use it to paint over the stubbly scalp skin with clean skin from other parts of Jordan's head.
The next step is to set the size and hardness of the Clone Stamp Tool, which will set how large an area of pixels we're going to pick up and paint with. To do that, click on the Brush pop-up palette in the Options bar and set your brush to 45 pixels with a hardness of 0 - that is, a very soft brush.
This brush will give us a relatively small paint area compared to Jordan's head, so we can paint precisely, and one in which the painted pixels will blend smoothly into the background pixels.
Here's the most critical step - setting the area from which you're going to copy the pixels to paint with. To set the actual clone point, hold down the Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows) key, so you see the crosshair icon, move the Clone Stamp to the point from which you want to clone, and click to set the clone area.
What we're trying to do here is find hairless areas of Jordan's head that will match the rest of his bare skull in order to paint out the stubble with clear skin. Any place on his head that matches the color and brightness of the skin next to the stubbly area will work, and you can test the match by positioning the Clone Stamp Tool in the area where you want to paint:
If the sample area within the Clone Stamp Tool circle looks like it will be a good match, click and drag to paint out the stubble with clear skin:
Use short strokes, and be aware that the Clone Stamp clone area moves in parallel to the area where you're painting (by default). Eventually you'll hit an area where the clone won't be the right kinds of pixels. When you do, just step back and resample the clone point from another area of the head.
So, just keep painting and adjusting the clone point as needed until all the hair is removed. You may need to move the clone point as often as every stroke to match the hue and shading of the skin. With a little color correction at the end to improve the image and make the skin tone a little richer, you'll end up with a convincing shave:
And that's it!
Need more Photoshop Image Re-touching know-how? Check this tutorial out!