How To Change Hair Color in GIMP {Solved}

Previously, I showed you how to change the color of eyes in GIMP. Today, I’d like to show you some new techniques for editing colors… this time, we’re going to change our hair’s color with GIMP!

For this particular GIMP tutorial, I chose an intricate image to work on. The most challenging part of editing the hair color is the… dreaded stray hairs! I’ll show you the secret to changing the hair color of teeny-tiny, strays too.

You can follow the step-by-step instructions below, or better yet… watch the Youtube video above.

If you’re ready to change your hair color… let’s do it!

Table of Contents

Step 1: Open Image In GIMP

If you’d like to use the same image to discover how to change hair color, download it from here. Or use any image that you’d like to change the hair color.

Step 2: Duplicate the Layer In GIMP

Editing non-destructively is always advised for editing best practices. This involves duplicating the layer you’d like to work on. By doing so, you’ll have the original image layer still intact in case you’re unhappy with the outcome.

So, let’s duplicate the original layer and give the layer name “Hair Color Change.”

Step 3: Convert the Color Image to B&W Using GIMP

This step is vital for getting a natural-looking hair color adjustment. Let’s convert our new layer from color to black and white. Go to, Colors > Hue/Saturation and change the Saturation value to -100.

Step 4: Choose and Apply Your Hair Color in GIMP

We’re now going to colorize our b&w layer with our color of choice. To add the hair color, go to, Colors > Colorize. Boom… instant hair color change! Although, it’s probably not the color you’re after.

To find the exact color based on your creative vision, adjust the Hue slider until you dial it in, then click OK.

Step 5: Add a Layer Mask

The magic of this editing technique is achieved by adding a Layer Mask and painting on your color! You’ll find the last icon at the bottom of the Layer Panel (looks like a clown) is required to add a Layer Mask. Click on it and choose black as the option, then click “Add.”

Now that your image looks like the original, you might be wondering what’s going on. With Layer Masks, when it’s completely black, it removes the edit. You can then use the Paintbrush tool and paint with white to add the edit to the layer.

Black removes. White adds.

Step 6: Paint the Hair Color With the GIMP Paintbrush Tool

For the larger portions of hair, use a reasonably large Paintbrush (P) and use a soft-edge. I went with the Paintbrush labeled; 2. Hardness 050… Which is a brush included with GIMP.

Now, set your Foreground color to white and paint over the hair… how cool is that?

The key for the stray hairs and the hair separated around the face is to use a small brush. A teeny-tiny brush for individual hairs!

If you make a mistake and add the hair color where it shouldn’t be, paint with black to remove it.

Step 7: Natural-Looking Hair Color

Now that you have a new color for the hair, it’s time to blend this layer with the original. The goal of this step is to create a more natural-looking color.

This can be done by either adjusting the Opacity or Sautraion… or both. 

My favorite technique that I believe offers the most realistic result is to change the Blending Mode. For this image, I’ve set mine to Lighten Only.

Try that mode and experiment with the others to find your perfect match!

What's Next?

two different eye colors

Discover the secret to changing eye colors!

If this was your first introduction to using Layer Masks, check out my full guide that explains everything about them. I think you’ll also be interested in these two {advanced) tutorials about removing anything and changing the background.

Also, I’d love to see your final hair color edit… join our private Facebook group to share your new editing skills. Oh, and check out my Youtube channel for more awesome tutorials.

Like this article? If so, please share!

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