Dec 23, 2014

How to Swap Heads in Photoshop

Why in the world would you want to swap out someone’s face?? Besides it being tons of fun, it can be extremely helpful in things like family portraiture. If you want to replace someone’s closed eyes with open ones, or replace a crying baby with a happy one, this is the technique to use.

Quick and Easy

First, drag the image with the good face on top of the image with the not so good face. Make a selection around the head, and hold Cmd + J. This will duplicate whatever is selected onto a new layer.

Now, lower the opacity of the layer so that you can place it directly over the other face. If needed, transform it to be larger or smaller so that it matches perfectly. Create a layer mask on the layer. Then, paint with black wherever you don’t want the layer to show up.

One tricky thing you’ll most likely run into is knowing where to stop. Ideally, you’ll keep as much of the original image as possible. Play around with blending in things like hair and clothes to help you out. If there are problem areas, you can use the clone stamp tool as a back up, cloning in any areas that need to be covered.

You can also play with exposure and coloring to match the new image with the old one.


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    Gerd Moors

    Once again a decent and clear tutorial on how to.
    Thank you very much Aaron & PHlearn.

    It’s always a pleasure to watch your tutorials and it even has become “very” addictive!

    Have a nice X-mas!

    Gerd (from Belgium)

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    Thanks for the tutorials over the year
    I wish you and your team a nice X-mass

    many greetz
    Fons from The Netherlands

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    colin thacker

    I have been watching your youtube videos and have enjoyed them a lot, in the new year when i have a little more time i am going to sign up for your tutorials to learn a lot more about photoshop and light room.
    Thanks to you my wife says my photos are looking a lot better and clearer.

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    Drew Cohen

    Thank you for all you do, your tutorials are the best. I can’t wait until the next one. I was at the library the other day and saw these photos that were done in photoshop. The pictures looked like they were under a black light. Any chance of doing a tutorial on that? Thank you!

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    Kirk Shultz

    I found this useful for the following reason. For 20 years I was in a job where I couldn’t grow facial hair (or have long hair). I left that job and immediately started growing my hair. After a while, I started wondering what I would look like without the mustache, but with the goatee alone. I used a limited form of the above technique. It was a quick job and I should have used a different photo for the upper lip, but it served it’s purpose. My kids said no goatee without a mustache. p.s. This photo was never meant to be seen by anyone but me. I’m not really an ax murderer, I just look like one.

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    This is an awesome tutorial! Every holiday season I take family photos with all the grandkids. As everyone knows, getting a single good photo with a bunch of little ones is like herding cats. With this “head swap” knowledge, I will now be able to have one great family photo to share with the kids. Thanks for the know-how!

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      Sorry if that doesn’t make sense, but I’m genuinely curious. I’ve come across a few tutorials demonstrating how to align two images but I’ve yet to see the pasted selection or image inverted at 50% opacity. This method allows you to align down to the exact pixels.

  • user image

    Great tutorial. I’m just curious being quite new to Photoshop, the new head is very much darker than the previous one. How can I match this exposure exactly?

  • user image

    I can’t even begin to thank you for all I have learned from your tuts over the past couple years. Just a wealth of great info and instruction. I also love your very cool, laid back approach. That being said, I think that maybe you should only smoke the GOOD stuff some time AFTER you have made the tutorials. : -)

    In what world would even the most casual observer not take notice of the circled areas in this most recent edit. I know you have to get a lot in in a small amount of time but come on my friend.

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      you said it brother. it wasnt professionally done in my opinion as well

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    Again, another tutorial which skips one of the most elementary yet essential pieces of information. Swapping heads would have to be one of the most basic actions that would find a PS amateur looking for help. Your first instruction (of your over-ten-minute-tutorial) is to press shift and click to move the image – from where?? How have you uploaded it? What is layering? Start from the BEGINNING. Assume those coming here seeking help don’t know what they’re doing. So frustrating.