Have you ever taken that PERFECT family photo….only to bring it up in Photoshop and discover a blinker? A tongue-sticker-outer? (Is that even an adjective?) Or you’ve taken roughly a hundred photos and there is at least ONE blinker in every photo? In the beginning, I would normally just banged my head harshly on the desk and wondered why in the world I’m a family photographer.
Oh….but now…..Oh I have a wonderful secret.
I swap heads.
Oh it’s a LOVELY trick to know and has saved many a-photo for me! And my over sized noggin. HA! Let me show you what I’m talking about. I had this amazing photo session in Washington State with the funniest lady and her family. It was a LARGE family….one that normally makes me break out in a cold sweat knowing I’m going to rake in the blinkers. LOL And of course, I never had a totally clean image to work with, either eyes were closed or a tongue was out in every one. I had to find the best one I could find, and then work from there.
Here is my original, SOOC shot, only 1 tongue out, 1 blink and 1 head turned:
Now that I know what I’m looking for in the other photos, I went back through my photos to find a usable photo of each person to replace in my good photo. I call this stage…..head-hunting because I’m a child of the 70s and the Head Hunters on Gilligan’s Island used to scare me to pieces. Explains a lot doesn’t it?
Once you have those photos in hand, open each one in Photoshop along with your original good photo. You want to swap heads BEFORE you do any adjustments at all to the photo. VERY important.
1| Create a new layer of your good photo. You will create a new layer for each head.
2| Go to your photo that you want to swap heads with. This will be the GOOD head you want to put in place of the BAD head….not your original good photo. Enlarge the photo for Head #1: I zoom to about 200%
3| Using your lasso tool, make a selection around the head. I make my selection pretty loose. It doesn’t have to be perfect or precise. Just a quick selection will work. Once you have made this selection, it will look roughly like a band of ants marching around her head.
4| Once you have your selection, go up to edit and select cut from the drop-down menu.
5| Go back to your good photo and zoom in to 200% to the head you will be working on.
6| Go back to Edit at the top and select paste from the drop-down menu.
7| At this point, you now have 2 heads sitting on the page. Using your Move tool (make sure you are on your new layer), place the “new” head over the “old” head. At this point, I like to reduce the opacity some so that I can see through the new layer. This helps me to line everything up between the old and the new head. You want this to be seamless, and if your heads are off, even just a little, it may show.
8| Working on the same new layer, go to your Eraser tool. I like to use a small brush (somewhere around a size 10 brush, but this is preference. Find what works for you.) with an opacity of 50%. This allows me to see what I’m revealing and to help the 2 layers blend better. If I am happy with it, I may go over it a couple of times or change my opacity to 70%, but only after I’ve been working on the image for a bit. Use the eraser tool on that harsh line of the new layer. You want to erase and blend that line as much as you can.
I like to bounce back and forth between zoomed at 200% and 100% so I can keep an eye on how the image and the work is coming. I work slowly in erasing that line, keeping the opacity around 50% until I am happy with the blend. Sometimes, the photo requires that I blend back entirely to 100%, and then in some cases, like with these leaves, I could keep the opacity 50% and the blend is good. Each photo is different.
Once I have swapped the head, or in this case, 3 heads and I am happy with my image, I begin making adjustments to the image itself. Remember, only edit the photo AFTER you have made all the changes to the swapped heads. Your finished image should look seamless!
Now, practice chopping off heads! Only in photography can you say that… only in photography. 😉
Be kind to others, and have some FUN with your photos!
I love to laugh! I think kindness is better than being rich. I shoot with a Nikon D700, and I am a strong believer that you can NEVER stop learning! Find me on my Photography website, Facebook Page , and of course I am a PROUD Contributor for I Heart Faces!