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Photoshop Tutorial: 9 Quick Steps for Head Swapping / Face Transplant

Sometimes, as photographers, we need to switch things around in Photoshop for a better picture.

I recently had a session with a lovely family on historic Morris Avenue in downtown Birmingham. I positioned my client in the middle of the brick street, snapped a few shots, backed up, and took a few more. There was one in this series that was the winner… almost. The only problem was that Mom was in the middle of a laugh.

Here’s how I head swap and transplant the Mom’s face…

Step 1. Open original photo and photo with desired face.

Step 2. Using the selection tool, I selected Mom’s smiling face plus a little extra and copied (PC: Control + C OR Mac: Command + C) .

Step 3. I pasted (PC: Control + V OR Mac: Command + V ) the desired face into the original photo.

Step 4. Reduce the opacity so that I can see through the desired face easily.

Step 5. I lined up Mom’s faces using the transform tool (PC: Control + T OR Mac: Command + T ). I had to not only line up the faces, but the new face was slightly smaller, so I had to increase the size (push shift while dragging an anchor). I used her the height of her ears, and the width of her eyes and mouth to line it up perfectly.

Step 6. Next, I applied a layer mask to the new face by clicking the layer mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette. This

is the icon that looks like a square with a circle inside. I also get a soft round brush and make sure my brush color is on black (to reveal the original image close to, but not on, Mom’s face).

Step 7. Using the soft edge brush and varying the opacity, I painted on the new face alternating black and white to hide (black) or reveal (white) the original image or the new face.

Step 8. I’m not quite pleased with the outcome – the green of the trees behind the family to Mom’s left is not smooth or seamless. So I flatten my image, duplicate the layer and, using the rubber stamp tool, copy the darker green from Mom’s right to her left.

Step 9. My last step was to do some light editing to bring out the colors, light into the darker areas, and darkness into the brighter areas. I used MCP Fusion Photoshop actions slumber party. Then I used Shade to selectively darken the face of the young lady in the wheelchair, and over all sharpening with High Def Sharpening at 75%.

I’m very pleased with the results, but more importantly, my client loved it and had no idea that her face was a transplant!

Sarah Cook of Cookwire Photography. based in Birmingham, Alabama, specializes in family, children and special-needs photography. Her passion for capturing those with special-needs is heavily influenced by her son, Max, who is severely Autistic. It is her desire to portray their unique spirit and perspective.

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