Restoring hair in old photos is something you will come across a lot. The tops of heads go missing due to damage, from water or wear and tear and so does the hair.
This post is a quick look at how best to restore it. Depending on the severity of the damage and the closeness of the figure or figures to the camera, will depend on how I tackle it. If the hair is a long way off and just a shape, it is relatively simple to clone and shape a complete hairstyle. On the other end of the scale when the figure is full-frame then some very delicate and fine hair reconstruction work will be needed.
Restoring hair in a damaged photo example
In the example below I had to draw much of the hair back in.
Cloning some bits of hair did not flow the rest of the hairline. Instead, I patched a bit from further round the head and had to fade it into the damage to get a set of tones I could use a base, before commencing with painting back in the strands. I set my brush to fade out with my pen pressure and tail off to a nice point. I set my colour to as close as I could get to the average hair colour and painted in a general sweep of hair pattern on a new layer. With further layers of highlights strands and low light strands above and below my “general layer”, I was able to make a reasonable match.
The crucial thing to make it all blend in was to blur and add grain to the strands. They will be too sharp and stand out way too much if left. Texturing them with “noise” and then adding some blur finishes the effect. If you search the blog the are numerous posts where matching grain is described and how best to go about it.
I was then able to darken around the hairline with the burn tools to match the darker areas between the forehead and hair.