Head in a jar prank

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:

  • Photo editing software
  • Large jar
  • food colouring
  • printer + access to lamination service (local print/copy store)

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

Picture of Adjust levels + align images

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

Picture of Erase profile edge

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

Picture of Merge and resize

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

Picture of Prepare jar

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 and a digital patch.
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Can someone make this photo for me and how much u will charge plz need for my Halloween wedding
Are you still needing help? Email I do photo editing.

or search for a zombie photo like the one I posted

McDaigo made it!5 days ago

This was a really easy Halloween decoration! We made a chicken wire ghost for the yard and put the printed head (thanks Mike!) in a bottle with a handle. Now it looks like we have a floating lantern in the yard with a head in it. I love this project!

head in a jar.jpg
mikeasaurus (author)  McDaigo5 days ago

Spooky addition with the light; I like it!

Thanks for sharing your results. Enjoy the Pro Membership

michael.delire made it!5 days ago

My project is soon done :)

mikeasaurus (author)  michael.delire5 days ago

Nice work, it looks good. Share a picture when you stuff that head in a jar! Don't forget to hit the "I made it" button.

magsrootz9 days ago

Is anyone willing to create these images for me? If I send you the necessary pictures can you create the final image? I can pay you for your work. PayPal works if you are willing, I have a Halloween party I want them for on the 24th. I just am frustrated with trying to figure out the program, so if you are interested please let me know. I need 12 total.

YES I AM interested and do this stuff for work all the time. please let me know.

Can u do this picture and how much would it be
Hi David, I'm looking for 12 photos total by 24 October, please include email and cost your looking at also I can pay through PayPal.

hi magsrootz, i'm willing to help. can you email me at thanks

Hi David, I am looking for 12 photos to be made before a Halloween party on the 24th. I can send you what you need if you give me your email address. Can you tell me what kind of price you are looking for, and if I can pay you through PayPal? thanks.
Happy to help with pics.
Can I have your email? I will forward you a few to get started and work on getting the rest today. What kind of price did you have in mind?


if anyone is willing to help with the pic editing pls can u email me at and i will send u the pic i need

thx so much to anyone who emails me

pls don't reply to this comment and label the email "Halloween Jar Pics"

thx so much!!!

magsrootz12 days ago

can you tell me what photo editing program you are using? Nothing I have can crop the pictures that way. Thanks!

It is Adobe Photoshop.

I've tried to get the two images so I can merge them but can't figure it out. How do I add the images so I can print as you did.

magsrootz, take a front and profile pic of yourself, create a layer (3 total) for all the images, copy, paste the profile image and then reflect it, then place the two profile images on either side and blend them together, i'm sure there a lot of tutorials online on blending in photoshop, it should be pretty easy, i hope this helps.

magsrootz10 days ago

Has anyone been able to recreate this? I have the Photoshop CC program but I am unable to recreate the image in the first few stages. I need a step by step "tutorial for dummies" if anyone can help. Thanks!

angelronnie.beil made it!11 days ago

Nightmares will be well worth it! mwuahahahha

FerdB made it!27 days ago

here's MY head in a jar. instant iced tea for the "solution".

lab head in a jar.jpg

Hi Ferd - I am trying to make a library of heads in a jar and I would like to add yours. Would it be possible to send me your picture? If so, please send it to me at Thank you for your consideration. Robert

Oops. I just read your response to CaiCaiLiy.

Can you upload the file here as pdf or jpeg so I can use it?

Hey Lily...Sorry because...

A) I've not been around to reply and

B) I simply rolled my face along the glass on the photocopier 'til I got it right and I don't have a file to send : ^ ( Otherwise I'd be GLAD to have you use my face!

mikeasaurus (author)  FerdB27 days ago

The squished face is a nice touch, and I like the iced tea look.

Thanks for sharing. Enjoy the patch and 3-month Pro!

FerdB made it! FerdB27 days ago

a bit better, though darker, view...more of a 3D effect (and you can almost see my ear). Sorry it's dark, but lower light means fewer reflections on the glass.

lab head in a jar2.jpg

Hi - I would like to create a library of heads in a jar that I can display them on my front porch for Halloween. I would like to ask anyone who would like to send their heads to me to add to my collection. I would be grateful. Happy Halloween!!!! Many thanks, Robert

SpooktBlueOne7 months ago

Trying to find a damn large jar in UK. They're useless only sells 2.5litre!?

Wish I could order from US!

Use a pickle onion jar? That's what I'm going to do x

Better yet…..go to “” and search “Glass jar”…and order from them….Good luck! I love this idea…..

If you pay for the jar and the shipping, I will send you one.

what about ebay or amazon?

You could always use one of the smaller ones and make a shrunken head thing!

or the head of a young child.

ymasullo made it!1 month ago

I was at the Maker Faire yesterday in NYC and met with the Instructables guy! He asked me to share my here it is...I teach high school boys and made this last May (2014) and had it casually sitting on a side table in my room. Can you imagine the double takes? Ha ha ha ha ha. Fun and simple. Thank you.

mikeasaurus (author)  ymasullo27 days ago

It was nice to meet you! Glad you shared your version, thanks!

Thanks for sharing. Enjoy the patch and 3-month Pro!

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