Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Head Swap {Tutorial}

If any of you have ever tried to photograph your children, especially more than one at the same know that by the end of the session you usually are ready to scream or pull your hair out. (or BOTH).
Taking pictures of one kid isn't so bad, as long as they're in a good mood. Two or more, however, is almost impossible when they're young.
If one is smiling, the other isn't looking. If both are looking, one is picking their nose. Sometimes both are know, the usual.
The magic tool to help combat this photography woe, other than using fake, always smiling children, is to use Photoshop. Specifically, doing a head swap. After doing lots of research and reading, I had a really hard time finding an easy-to-use tutorial for doing a head swap. Most of them either used more modern and fancy versions of the program, or used tools I didn't have.
I have a super-old version, Photoshop Elements 6. It suits all of my needs and is a great program, but most helpful websites have forgotten about the old programs. So I sat down, powered my way through trying to do a head swap, and decided to document my steps to hopefully help others in my shoes get at least ONE good picture of their kids! Since I do have such an old version, hopefully the tools I use are very standard on all of the newer versions.

Here we go:

After taking 100 pictures of my kids, I found that NONE of them were completely usable. I decided to work with these 2:

Both decent pictures, with one kid not looking in each. Time for the head swap.
Note: Do your head swap before doing ANY editing with the pictures. Adjust lighting, color, sharpening, etc. after doing the head swap.
Add both of your photos to your bin. Select the one you want to remove the head from first. I will be taking the head off of my boy in this picture.
You will use your "Lasso" tool to select the head you are using.
Draw around the head using the lasso tool. I like to leave a pretty large border to leave me room for correcting later. Once you draw your circle, it will look like little marching ants around the head.

Copy the selection you've made.
Now open the picture you want to ADD the head to. Create a new layer for this image.

Then paste the head onto your new layer.
It will look a little creepy. Or cool, depending on how you look at it.

Lower the opacity on your new layer to help you see through the head a little bit. Move it to align it with the appropriate position on your background picture. Lining up the chin is easiest for me, but play with it to see what works.

Use your eraser at a low opacity and begin to "erase" the harsh lines around the head where you moved to the new background. Keep erasing until you have a nice blend between your backgrounds and can no longer see where you moved the head!

Flatten your image once you are happy with the head swap.

Now you can edit your image as you please, adjusting lighting, sharpness, or playing with the color.
Your finished image will make you very happy, now that you have a picture worthy of framing!
I hope this helps you get pictures you love of your babies. Hopefully as they get bigger it will get a little bit easier!

1 comment:

  1. I have tried this before with minimal results. I only have the basic photo editor that came with my computer, so the head swap looked a little funky if you looked too closely at the picture.
    But yours turned out great! Maybe its time I invested in a better photo editing program...
    Thanks for the tips!! :)


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