Photoshop tutorial: How to swap heads in Photoshop

Everything you need to know to replace a head – or any other body part - in one photo with another in Photoshop, including fixes for different angles and in-depth layer mask advice.

Intro


Every photographer and designer knows this conundrum. You’ve got two photos of a model: one has the perfect pose and the other the perfect expression. So how you do you bring them together into one amazing shot?

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This Photoshop tutorial from burlesque photographer Tigz Rice shows you how to seamlessly combine the best parts of two photographs from the same photoshoot together in Photoshop using a series of adjustment masks for non-destructive editing,  Although this tutorial is focused on the head of the model, the same techniques could be applied to any part of the body.

The images used in this tutorial are taken from a recent shoot with burlesque performer Felicity Furore.

Step 1

Step 2

STEP 2

With the Move tool (V) selected in the toolbar, click-&-drag on one image to bring it into the other document as an additional layer. Holding down Shift while you do this will keep the two images aligned.

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Step 3

STEP 3

Next, you will need to unlock the Background layer. Click on the lock visible in the Layer panel to remove it.

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Step 4

STEP 4

Now highlight both layers and go to Edit > Auto Align Layers to allow Photoshop to automatically align the images for you, including rotation and resizing. Here I chose Auto mode, which usually works best in most situations.

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Step 5

STEP 5

Now the layers are aligned, rename the layers ‘HEAD’ and ‘BODY’ respectively. Arrange the layers so that the ‘BODY’ layer sits above the ‘HEAD’ layer in the Layers panel.

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Step 6

STEP 6

Select the ‘BODY’ layer and click on the Add New Layer Mask button to create a positive (white) mask over the entire group. Your Layers panel should now look something like this.

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Step 7

STEP 7

On your new layer mask, select a soft edged brush (B) at 100% opacity, and set your paint colour to Black.

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Step 8

STEP 8

Brush over your image to reveal the head from the ‘HEAD’ layer. Because the backgrounds are aligned, most of the image should blend seamlessly, with exception of the neck and in this case, a little bit of the original arm pose.

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Step 9

STEP 9

Now start clearing up around the head. Still with the black paint, switch to a smaller-sized, soft-edged brush and make sure all the smaller details like Felicity’s pearls, hair and the neckline of her dress are seamlessly blended. Look out for any seams within the two images too.

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Step 10

STEP 10

Then switch to white paint and use this to brush over any areas you want to mask, such as the glove peeking through from the below layer.

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Step 11

STEP 11

When you’re happy, merge the two layers together by highlighting everything in your Layers panel and pressing Cmd/Ctrl+E to ‘Merge selected’.

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Step 12

STEP 12

Use the Crop tool (C) to remove any empty pixels from around the edges of your image created during the alignment step.

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Step 13