Photoshop: Face Swap!

Many people have asked me “How can I put my head on another body, and then match the colors, tones, etc?”. This tutorial will go over a few techniques which will help achieve this effect.

Swap Faces in Photoshop

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In front of us, I have both images open. We’re going to attempt to place the woman’s face from the right, on the body on the left, and at the same time, we’re going to try and match the colors and tones as closely as possible.

Now, when you’re preparing to do an edit like this, you want to try and find a face that matches the angle of the face on the body you’re going to use. In this case, even though the image is rotated, the face is still going to match the angle when we correct the rotation.

Let’s start by dragging the image of the face, on top of the image with the body we want to use. Once it’s in the same document, I’ve found that reducing the opacity of the top image helps with alignment and scaling. By pressing the number 5 on my keyboard, I can quickly reduce the opacity to 50%. Now I can go ahead and scale and rotate the image until the two faces line up as accurately as possible.

Once the face is lined up, increase the opacity back to 100% and ahead and add a layer last to that layer. We’re going to make a very rough removal, just to exclude the areas of the image we don’t need. If you’re unfamiliar with Layer Masks, anything that is painted black will be hidden from that layer, and anything that remains or is painted white, will be visible.

So now that we have the face by itself, let’s move it to the side, so we can work on the color. If you can see there are quite a few color differences in the two images. The top image has much lighter hair, and her skin contains a lot more red than the bottom layer.

The best way to start editing the color, is to use a Color Balance adjustment layer. This will allow us to adjust our Shadows, Midtones and Highlights of this layer.  One thing you definitely need to make sure to do, is to click on the black/white circle icon. This will lock the adjustment layer to only the layer directly below this. We don’t want the background layer being effected. Your best bet is to go through the sliders, and experiment with the color changes. Obviously we want to reduce the Reds, so under Highlights and Midtones I’m going to drag my first slider down a bit. As for the hair, because it’s a darker shade, this would be effected by the Shadows. Adjusting these sliders will help match the hair color, which is looking quite off right now. That’s looking a bit better.

Now that the color’s are more accurate to the original image, I’m going to pop on a Vibrance Adjustment Layer, and bring the Saturation down a touch, to around -15.

Alright. Now let’s go back and finalize the Layer Mask. In most cases, because we’ve already gone ahead and matched the skin color, using a very soft brush would be enough to blend the two images together. At this point, your image should be looking quite good. One last thing you’ll probably want to do is burn and dodge. Burning will definitely be helpful by adding shadows to the face, and dodging can help add light to help match the original image.

You may want to go back and tweak the colors a bit, which is why I always make sure to use Adjustment Layers.

With a bit of patience, you can achieve a pretty realistic edit!

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial, and found something useful out of it. Take care!