How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

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.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

If you’d like to follow along with the tutorial, you can download the free images here:

Alternatively, there are a number of great portrait imagesyou could work with from Photodune.

Method 1: Brush On

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

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.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

Colour In!

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.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

Blend Mode

Change the Blend Modeof yourpaintedcolourlayer to Overlay.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

Add Blur

Next, apply a filter to the colour layer. With the colour layer selected, selectFilter> Blur > GaussianBlur,and in the dialogue box, move the Radius slider until the edges between the colours blend better.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

Create a Hue/Saturation Layer

Add a Hue/Saturationadjustment layer and create a clipping mask against your colour layer (right click on the Hue-Saturation layer and selectCreate 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.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

Tidy Up

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.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

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 LucentPhotoshop 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 toinstall 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.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

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.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

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!

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

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.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

Add a Gradient

Double click the colour layer to get the Layer Style panel and selectGradient Overlay.In the dialogue box, change the Gradient to one of the rainbow styles (or whatever you fancy).

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

Blur the Layer

As you did in Method 1, select the colour layer and then blur the colours by selectingFilter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.Drag the Radius slider until the colours in the gradient blend a little better.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

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.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

Take it Further

This time, I’ll use theMagic Dust Photoshop Actionto 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.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

Run the action. Again, as with the previous action we used, this may take a while.

How to Make Rainbow Hair in Adobe Photoshop: Two Easy Methods

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, MonikaZagrobelna has written a useful tutorial onHow 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.