Hair Tinting

 Hair tinting or hair coloring with PaintShop Pro is one way to really change someones appearance..

It's possible to do as little as adding some interesting streaks or go all out and do a complete hair color change.

The key to success with this technique is the ability to accurately select the hair before tinting or changing the color of the hair. 

And if you've ever tried to select hair then you know how difficult and challenging it can be however the task will be much easier if you use a Wacom pen and tablet such as the Bamboo or Intuos.

The steps, then, are ...

  1. Choose a suitable photo.
  2. Select the hair, or in the case of a hair streak, a portion of the hair.
  3. Promote the selection to a new layer and do whatever tune-up is required - this is the real grunt work.
  4. Do the hair tinting or color change - this is the fun part with many, many possibilities.

Hair Tinting

You can pretty much choose any image with a nice crop of hair.  Here's the one I've chosen for this tutorial ...

That was easy, wasn't it?

Now for the Selection part ...

Making the Selection

Choosing The Selection Tool

You can do the selection with any of the selection tools but in my experience Edit Selection is, by far, the easiest route.  That's not to say that you can't complete the hair tinting selection with one of the other selection tools - like the Freehand Selection tool - but it sure is easier using Selection > Edit Selection.

If you're not familiar with this method of selecting you can review it here.

If you are familiar with Edit Selection then you can get going right away.  Here's the picture with the hair selected using Selection > Edit Selection ...

It's up to you to determine which of the little wispy hairs need to be included when the Selection is being painted.  In my example I tried to make sure the large wispies were included but the really little ones were ignored.

It's not necessary to do a complete hair color change - you can, if you wish, just add some highlight streaks which can look really fabulous.  To add streaks just select a streak in the hair

When all the hair is painted to your satisfaction then go to Selection > Edit Selection and the familiar marching ants will appear about the hair.  Take a good look and if it is not satisfactory then open up Edit Selection again and either add more selected area (painting with white) or subtract from the selected area (painting with black).


According to the Paint Shop Help files ...

Feathering softens the area between a selection and the rest of the image by gradually increasing the transparency of the pixels along the edge of the selection. You can specify the width of the feathered area.

When you copy or move a selection, feathering helps blend the selection into the surrounding area so that the image appears more natural. The higher the feathering value is, the softer the edges are. A feathering value of 0 creates a selection with distinct edges. 

Feathering the hair selection will really help when it's time to add hair tinting and this is the time to do it.

If you don't do the feathering then you will be muttering and mumbling in the next step because your hair tinting will look terribly fake and artificial.

To feather the selection simply go to Selection > Modify > Feather ...

It may look like the Selection has grown but don't worry about it - the extra space is just showing how far the feather will travel.

The image I'm working with is 2076 pixels X 2592 pixels and a Feather value of 10 pixels seemed to work quite nicely.

Promote To A New Layer

Now that the selection is made and the feather is added, it's time to put the hair selection on it's own layer - just go to Selection > Promote Selection To Layer.

That's it - the hardest work is done.  Now it's time for the creative bits - adding some tint.

There are a bunch of different methods that can be used to do some hair tinting.  Here are some suggestions.

Hue/Saturation/Lightness I (Adjustment Layer)

This is probably the easiest and fastest method. 

Highlight the layer that was created when the selection was promoted to a layer and then add a Hue/Saturation/Lightness adjustment layer on the top of the layers stack.

Click the Colorize box and they start having some fun with the sliders.

Saturation - the higher the number of the Saturation slider the more saturated the color and vice versa.

Hue - slowly move the Hue slider left and right to find the color you want.

Lightness - will make the new hue lighter or darker.

When happy with the results then click OK.  It's likely that there will be some problems with the hair tinting that will need some attention to clean up - more on that later.

Here are screens shots of the layers palette and the resulting hair color ..

Black Hair

Giving someone jet black hair can be a bit of a challenge so how about trying this hair tinting procedure out?

Make your selection using whatever tools you like, promote to a new layer and then use these settings in the Hue/Saturation/Lightness panel.

And these settings will produce this result ...

Any errors made during the selection step in the hair tinting procedure will surely be magnified with black hair so it is best to fix up any problems right here.

Make sure the Hue/Saturation/Lightness layer is active and with a low opacity eraser just get rid of any color that has wandered into places it shouldn't be.

Not black enough for you?  OK - simply duplicate the Hue/Saturation/Lightness layer and change it's Blend Mode to Multiply.

Now lower the Opacity of the top layer to taste ...

One thing I've noticed about black hair is how fabulous the highlights look - that's one of the features of jet black hair that is so very appealing.

We can create the same effect with Paint Shop Pro by doing some dodging and burning.  My preference (and hopefully yours as well) is to use a Soft Light Layer at the top of the layer stack and paint in the highlight areas with white at a low opacity.  This is an absolutely wonderful way to dodge and burn and if it is new to you then check out the Dodge and Burn Tutorial ...

And then ...

You can add a Curves Adjustment Layer and increase the mid-tones to give those highlights even more life.  Curves are really useful and if they are confusing for you then the Curves Tutorial is waiting  right here ...

Here is what I ended up with with the Soft Light Layer and then Curves ...

These two additional adjustments (Soft Light Dodging and Curves) can be done with any hair tinting adjustment but they sure look good with black hair, don't they?

Here is the final layers palette.

Top Layer - the curves adjustment with the mid-tones pulled up to accentuate the highlights.

Dodge and Burn - it is a Soft Light Layer and the highlights were painted with white.

HSL 2 - is set to Multiply Blend Mode and the opacity was lowered to taste.

HSL 1 - the first layer that applied Black and the one where any errors in selecting were corrected.  The errors need to be done here or they will just get stronger and more noticeable as the adjustments are made more intense.

Now - my next thought is to select out the skin and do some lightening on it - kind of like a Goth conversion but that's a subject for another tutorial ...

Hue/Saturation/Lightness II

Rather than add a Hue/Saturation/Lightness adjustment layer, do the tinting directly on the layer.

Go to Adjust > Hue and Saturation and you'll find four choices.

Colorize - fun and useful.

Hue/Saturation/Lightness - same dialogue as the HSL Adjustment Layer.

Vibrancy - makes subtle changes.

Hue Map - interesting with some unique pre-sets.

With the Colorize choice you get a simple little adjustment panel.

The interesting thing about the panel is that the chosen hue will show up on the bottom of the two adjustment sliders.

You will know exactly what color will be applied to the  selection.


Hair tinting with a gradient may seem somewhat strange and unusual but it can be very effective plus it is easy to do once the selection is made.

Here's how to set up for a gradient ...

Firstly - make the hair selection and promote the selection to a new layer (just like before), and then ...

Add a new Raster layer above the selection and set it's blending mode to Color (Legacy). 

Now it's a simple matter of choosing a gradient and applying it to the selection.

Let's give it a go with this image.

Are you familiar with gradients and how to use them?  

Working With Gradients.

The gradients are found in the Materials Properties section, they are accessed through the Materials Palette and applied with the Paint Bucket Tool ...

Select the gradient by clicking on the current gradient and then choosing one from the list.

Once it is chosen the type of gradient can be chosen - there are four different types ...

  • Linear
  • Rectangular
  • Sunburst
  • Radial

You can also choose the angle of the gradient and the number of times the gradient is repeated.  These adjustments are there simply for your enjoyment and amusement - so have fun with them.

I followed my own instructions and this is the layers palette - see - it's a simple little 3 layer procedure ...

The Promoted Hair Selection layer was created by going to Selections > Promote Selection To Layer.

The top layer (Gradient Layer) was created from Layers > New Raster Layer ... or by clicking on the little new layer icon in the layers palette.

Change the top layer Blend Mode to Color (Legacy) so that the underlying texture is visible - in this case the hair.

The resulting gradient, even with the new Blend Mode, was somewhat overpowering so the layer Opacity was lowered until the effect looked right - in this case 34%.

This is not an exact science so there is a lot of room for messing about and individual taste.  

One thing I've noticed in my travels to photo sites on the internet is this - there is no right or wrong with an image - it is entirely up to what you like and if you like some really weird, off the wall effect (really weird and off the wall is a standard set by the majority of folks) that is fabulous because for sure there will be others out there who love the exact same thing!

Hmmm - I digress ....


For the adventurous souls among you, and I know you're there  -  how about a little texture with your gradient to spice things up a tad?  

It's simple to do - when you are selecting the gradient if you look to the right on the Materials Properties you will see a little check box called Texture.

Put a check mark in there and then explore the different textures to add to the gradient - you'll get some unique looks for sure.

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