Picture of head in a jar prank

Hungry? Scare those fridge-bound famished food foragers with a head in a jar!

Using a photo editor, two pictures are blended together to create flat image of a head, which is then laminated and submerged in a jar. When the flattened image in inserted into the curved jar, along with the distortion from the water, gives the illusion of a decapitated head in a jar of preserving fluid.

Here's what you need to make your own:

Making your own head in a jar is easy, but requires some photo editing skills. I've included a tutorial on how I made mine, and took me about 30 minutes to compose. Personalizing this prank will make it more effective. But, if you're not a pro with photo editing, you can download my flattened head image below.

Step 1: Take photos + import

Picture of Take photos + import

To make the head printout you'll need 2 pictures of a head, a profile and a portrait. With the camera at eye-level, take a picture straight on and one from the side. Ensure your subject is well lit. Also, ask them to make a face.

Next we'll import these images into a photo editing suite. Since the final output will be on a standard A4 / 8.5" x 11" printer paper, start by opening your photo editing software and opening a new document set to your printer paper size. Then, import the profile and portrait pictures of your subject onto new layers and resize them to fit your workspace. We'll resize them again after merging the faces together.

Step 2: Adjust levels + align images

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Using your photo editor trim away any background so that you are left with just the face.

After trimming, if your two pictures have different lighting adjust the lighting levels (ctrl+L in most applications)

Using the eye as a level, align the two images so the features match up from the profile to the portrait (eyes, mouth, nose all aligned). Almost all photo editors have a ruler function, these help keep things true.

Step 3: Crop profile

Picture of Crop profile

To merge the two faces together you'll need to remove the face portion of the profile image. Make a selection to eye on the profile (picture 1) and delete the face (picture 2). Then, move the profile picture to one side of the portrait to match the location of the eyes (picture 3).

Step 4: Erase profile edge

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Select the erase tool and set it to a soft brush. Erase the edge of the profile picture where the two faces meet. Changing the opacity of the eraser you can work the brush to feather away some of the details and blend the two images.

Step 5: Copy profile

Picture of Copy profile

With one side completed, make a copy/duplicate of the profile and paste to a new layer. Flip the copy horizontally and move over to the other side of the portrait picture.

You may need to adjust the levels of the duplicate layer to match the portrait, and use the eraser tool again to feather away portions of the duplicate profile to blend into the portrait.

Don't worry too much about the chin and neck, these will be cropped out of the picture when we're ready to print. You should have a reasonable version of a flattened head.

Step 6: Merge and resize

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When you are satisfied with the layer placement, blending, and lighting levels, merge your layers together. Next, resize the image to fit your paper space. You can enlarge your image to crop out the neck and top of the head, or you can work more brush magic in these areas; such as with the clone stamp tool, or prediction tool (depending on your photo editor)

Step 7: Save file + print

Picture of Save file + print

After saving my image I printed it out. There should be an option in your print dialogue box that enables you to fill the page with your image, this will be "fit to media" or something to that effect.

When I printed mine it printed with a small white margin. Since I wanted just the image I used a paper cutter to trim off the white border.

If you want to use it I've included a PDF of my flattened head image below.

Step 8: Laminate

Picture of Laminate

Since this image will be submerged it needed to be laminated so it wouldn't disintegrate. Most people don't have a lamination machine at home, but your local school, office supply store, library, or copy centre likely has one that you can use. Lamination costs about $1 a sheet.

Step 9: Prepare jar

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You'll need a jar large enough to hold your picture. I got this 5 litre glass jar at my local hardware store for $15.

Filling the jar about halfway with water, I used a mix of yellow, orange, and green liquid food dye I tinted the water to resemble a preserving solution. Just like in the vintage science fiction movies.

Step 10: Put head in jar

Picture of Put head in jar

Curling the laminated printout to fit through the jar neck the sheet was inserted, the jar was then topped off with water until full. The jar was then sealed. The head in a jar was now ready to be placed inside the fridge to prank hungry foragers.

Step 11: Place in fridge

Picture of Place in fridge

Place jar into fridge. Maybe you hide it behind a few items so that a person has to be digging to find it, or maybe you leave it right up top to scare people as they initially open the fridge.

Since the solution reminded me of brine solution I decided to add a few hard boiled eggs to my head jar for fun.

Have fun scaring your friends with a head in a jar!

Have you made your own head in a jar? I want to see it!
Share a picture of your version of this project in the comments below and be awarded a 3-month Pro Membership on Instructables.com
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I wonder if I should stick a pair of... balls in it? ^^

jtmcdole1 year ago

What about having a jar in a jar so the print is protected from the water?

He said to laminate the print first.

Which doesn't render jtmcdole's question invalid.

But does render it irrelevant. It is of course possible, but would necessitate unrequired effort and the result would be sub par.

"unrequired" == "optional" effort if one doesn't have or care for laminating. You also have no standing to sugest it would generate sub-par results.

Keeping to being "positive and constructive", look at in analytically: A jar has a much smaller mouth than a body. Wide-mouth jars will have a same-size or larger mouth than the base. To fit a jar in a jar, you must make the inner jar smaller than the outer jar...that's just physics. Thus, your "head" image will be smaller than a single jar alone. Further, you will be able to see both the inner jar and it's lid, breaking the illusion. Result: tiny head, in a jar, in a jar. Not a head-in-a-jar. Some of us have goofed around and have observed the real-world...which gives us some standing. Instead of whining about other commenters having no standing...just do it your way and post a picture. Not a proof, but a data point showing full-, partial-, or no success. Have fun with it.

Lol you guys are like having a buisness scientist argument thing

Just saw your question but I do know this - trapped air, whether in a bottle inside a bottle or jar will look almost like a mirror. Hence, it will look as though you set a mirrored jar inside the jar.

The thing that pulls this off, is the refraction of the water to air (well water to glass to air) if you put an air filled jar inside the jar, it would just look like a piece of paper in a jar in a jar :) laminators are dirt cheap if you don't have one, and the thing that makes the lamination work, is that there's no air between the plastic and paper.

LotharL3 months ago

Thank you for the brilliant tutorial, my daughter and I decided to take it to a different level...


mikeasaurus (author)  mike_said_what6 months ago

Ha! This is the best version I've seen yet. Very clever, thanks for sharing such a fun video. Enjoy the Pro membership!

Hi, thank you so much! We are both gonna have a lot of fun with that. How do I upgrade or does it happen automatically

rabeatz made it!10 months ago

Worked pretty well for a headless man costume! People kept stopping to take pictures.


This is really cool! Great idea :)

mikeasaurus (author)  rabeatz10 months ago

Great stuff! Love that eerie glow.

Enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership!

PatrickBishop5 months ago


LexiM7 months ago

That is awesome

oh Gruesome!

Snellingkorey8 months ago

How freaky is this! that man looks like me! great job though!

kevinPlayTime made it!10 months ago

Here is a couple pictures from pre-Halloween night of my head in a jar. I put it on the "floating table" next to where I was handing out candy.

Floating table?

I made a table top from scrape wood and held it up with a single black post. The post inner layer is a pipe that is buried into the ground to provide the structure and the outer layer is to directs fog up to the table top and falls out around the edges. It looks good in the dark.

mikeasaurus (author)  kevinPlayTime10 months ago

Yikes, that looks good on the table.

Thanks for sharing. Enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership!

Titera made it!10 months ago

Thanks, Mike! This was an awesome project for me and my daughter. This is what my wife will see when she gets home today (see photos). Thanks again!

Sierra in a Jar - Patio.jpgSierra in a Jar - Fridge.jpg
wliqun Titera8 months ago

You should film your wife's reaction, and upload it to http://www.iprank.tv. A lot of people will like this.

Titera wliqun8 months ago
Unfortunately, it happened back on Halloween and I didn't have my video camera ready. Here's to next year! :)
twighahn Titera8 months ago
When your wife asks where the kid is, say last time I saw him he was in the frig
Titera twighahn8 months ago
Good one! She did freak out when she opened the fridge on Halloween and saw the jar. It was classic. :)
twighahn Titera8 months ago
When your wife asks where the kid is, say last time I saw him he was in the frig
mikeasaurus (author)  Titera10 months ago

This looks so good, both in and out of the fridge!
I hope your wife is spooked when she comes home. I'd love to see pictures of the reaction if you can get them.

Enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership!

Titera mikeasaurus10 months ago

Hi, Mike!

She was certainly spooked. In fact, she said loudly, "That's Creepy!". Unfortunately, I didn't have the camera in my hand to get her reaction. Thanks again for the great project, Mike!



twighahn8 months ago
Clear Polymer would work and then you hide stuff
engrob made it!9 months ago

Great idea! I made it for this past halloween and it came out great. I wish I had used a slightly smaller jar, mine was just a little too big but it managed to pass. Next years will be perfect! :)

Thanks again for sharing.

mikeasaurus (author)  engrob9 months ago

That looks great! Thanks for sharing, enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership

BenH9 made it!9 months ago

I telecommute, so was able to set up a pretty sweet background for conferences. Canned the whole family and used them at various Halloween events throughout the day. Was also able to coordinate with a co-worker to get my head into the office.

This was a fantastic idea and made my Halloween! Thanks!

mikeasaurus (author)  BenH99 months ago

Ha, great idea for a conference backdrop. The axe is a nice touch!

Thanks for sharing your version. Enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership.

Silverscrier9 months ago
We used this for our new ep cover!!! Thank you! Www.facebook.com/zombiejesusuk
mikeasaurus (author)  Silverscrier9 months ago

Wow, that's awesome! Thanks for sharing.
Good luck with your album, I'm listening to it right now.

Enjoy the 3-month Pro. Stay awesome!

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