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Not all men can grow a full, luscious beard on their own, but with the help of Photoshop, you can sample a never ending variety of facial hair styles. So the next time you’re considering that goatee or skinny mustache, try it out here first. That way you won’t have any haircut regrets later.

Start by opening up your portrait in Photoshop. Create a new, empty layer by going to Layer>New>Layer. An editing box will pop up. Keep all of the settings the same and click OK. You’ll see a new layer in the layers panel that shows a gray and white checkered box.

Select the Brush tool on the lefthand toolbox. Check the two small boxes in the bottom left corner and make sure the background is white and the foreground is black. If your subject’s hair is lighter brown or blonde, use the eye dropper tool to match the brush color to the hair.

Now you’re going to zoom in on your portraits face and paint a single facial hair. Use the [ and ] keys to shrink the brush to the size of a hair.  You’ll probably have to paint and repaint the hair this at least a few times until you get one that looks realistic.

Make another new layer under the current working layer. Select the marquee tool in the top left corner of the toolbox and select a box around the hair you just painted. Hold Shift + Delete and an editing box will pop up. Change the Contents to White and the Opacity to 100%. Hit OK.

Make sure the square is selected by holding Control or Command and clicking on the layer. Then go to Edit>Define Brush Preset. An editing box will pop up. Rename the brush preset to Hair and hit OK.

Now deselect the square and hit B to select the brush tool. You should see your newly created brush appear as the cursor. Select the two layers you created and delete them. Now that you have your brush design, you won’t need to use those layers again.

Create a new layer and go to Window>Brush. An editing box will pop up. This is where you’ll start to make your brush really look like facial hair. Select Shape Dynamics on the left hand side. Set the Size Jitter to 100. This will make some of the hairs longer and some shorter. Increase the angle jitter to around 10 percent. This will change the angle of the hairs. Increase the Roundness Jitter to add even more variation to the hairs. Keep in mind these settings will differ depending on the type of facial hair your subject already has and what kind of look you’re going for.

Click the Scattering box on the lefthand side. Select the Both Axes box. Increase Scatter to about 175 percent.

Then go back to Shape Dynamics and change the Control setting beneath Angle Jitter to Direction. This will make the hair grow in the direction you drag your mouse.

Then click the Transfer box on the lefthand side. Increase Opacity Jitter to about 75 percent. This will make some of the hairs look more and less visible, creating more depth to the facial hair.

Then go back to Shape Dynamics again and click the Flip X Jitter box so that the hairs don’t all grow in one direction.

Then you can start playing around with adding more hair to your subject’s face. Use the eyedropper tool to match your brush to the facial hair your subject already has. Make sure you vary the color of the brush as you add more hair to make it look realistic.

Play around with the blending modes to make the hair appear darker.

You can create a dramatic change with the Multiply blending option.

Once you’re happy with your layer of hair, make the brush white and start adding slight highlights throughout the beard. If you add too much, your subject will appear to be going gray, but with just a few subtle white highlights, the facial hair will look much more realistic.

There’s no limit to the number of hairstyles you can sample with this simple brush.




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