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Shaving Jordan Rudess’s Head in Photoshop

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.

Step 1 - Open The Image and Zoom In

We need to work at the maximum resolution available to get a good, close shave here.

Step 2 - Choose the Clone Stamp Tool

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.

Step 3 - Set the Brush Size

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.

Step 4 - Set the Clone Point and Start Painting

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.

Step 5 - Continue Painting to Remove all the Hair

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!

Richard Lainhart

Richard Lainhart | Articles by this author

Richard Lainhart is an award-winning composer, filmmaker, and author. His compositions have been performed in the US, Europe Asia, and Australia, and recordings of his music have appeared on the Periodic Music, Vacant Lot, XI Records, Airglow Music, Tobira Records, Infrequency, VICMOD, and ExOvo labels. His animations and short films have been shown in festivals in the US, Europe, and Asia, and online at ResFest, The New Venue, The Bitscreen, and Streaming Cinema 2.0. He has authored over a dozen technical manuals for music and video hardware and software, served as Contributing Editor for Interactivity and 3D Design Magazines, and contributed to books on digital media production published by IDG, Peachpit Press, McGraw Hill, and Miller Freeman Books. Previously an Adobe Certified Expert in After Effects and Premiere, a demo artist for Adobe Systems, and co-founder of the official New York City After Effects User Group, he was, from 2000-2009, Technical Director for Total Training Productions, an innovative digital media training company based in New York and California.


Feb 16, 2011
Well... I really need a haircut. This will help me a lot. Although I might need more of the content aware fill tool to help me out!

Thanks Richard! Great tut & kudos to Jordan Rudess too!
Feb 18, 2011
Neat post Richard! I have a feeling I'm going to have an awful lot of bald friends in the near future! :)

Keep 'em coming!
Feb 23, 2011
lol...you just shaved his head
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