Instructables
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.

 
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Step 1: Take photos + import

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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engrob made it!16 days 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.

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mikeasaurus (author)  engrob16 days ago

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

BenH9 made it!23 days 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!

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mikeasaurus (author)  BenH923 days 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.

We used this for our new ep cover!!! Thank you! Www.facebook.com/zombiejesusuk
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mikeasaurus (author)  Silverscrier24 days 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!

We used this for our new EP cover!!! Thank you so much!!! Www.facebook.com/zombiejesusuk
Name of the photo editing software?

Photoshop

This is really awesome. I will do this next Halloween!

I made this and put it in the fridge and when my brother whent in there he screamed like a girl. LOL!

cdstudioNH1 month ago

My god, Man, that's Brilliant!!

KellyM4 made it!1 month ago

I was out of the office on Halloween but still managed to win the costume contest with the help of this Instructable! I was short on time, so I used two sheets of clear contact paper instead of getting it laminated and sealed the edges with my heat gun. I think the addition of a wig that another user suggested went a long way toward the realism. Today's my first day back in the office and I have had a dozen people stop me to talk about how creepy it was.

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mikeasaurus (author)  KellyM41 month ago

Whoa. Creepy! That hair is a great touch, and your expression totally puts this over the top!

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

rabeatz made it!1 month ago

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

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mikeasaurus (author)  rabeatz1 month ago

Great stuff! Love that eerie glow.

Enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership!

kevinPlayTime made it!1 month 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.

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mikeasaurus (author)  kevinPlayTime1 month ago

Yikes, that looks good on the table.

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

mpilz made it!1 month ago

Here is my contribution! Including hair for added authenticity, and a equally authentic creepy environment.

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mikeasaurus (author)  mpilz1 month ago

Good staging with your head in a jar.

Enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership!

Titera made it!1 month 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!

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mikeasaurus (author)  Titera1 month 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!

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!

Cheers,

Michael

Hey Michael,

I tried reaching out to you by email. Came back as not a domain, I have a few questions for you if you have the time on this particular project. PM me on FB whenever you have the chance please? Thanks again for sharing this

itsnotmemustbu made it!1 month ago

This was GREAT instructable for a quick to make prank since u were soooo nice to share ur pic. I put my work at eye level and in your face when u open the left fridge door. Sorry about the glare from interior light-photographer I'm not. Thanks again!!!

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mikeasaurus (author)  itsnotmemustbu1 month ago

Being at eye-level, I hope it scared someone :)
Enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership!

Oh, it certainly did...bwaaahahahaha. "Wade" is positioned where cold beer traditionally sits...not what any of my empty-handed friends expected. Maybe next time they'll bring their own...teeheehee And thank you for the Pro membership! Bonus!!

ruxer1 month ago

You just fit perfetto !!! THX mikesaurus.

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mikeasaurus (author)  ruxer1 month ago

A fine addition next to your spooky pumpkin.

Thanks for sharing, enjoy the 3-Month Pro Membership!

This is also fine addition to my vegetarian fridge, looking forward to my family's breakfast. Thanks for the idea (and mate's head) !

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john.s.mead1 made it!1 month ago

At my school, the whole Science department joined together to do this for our yearly Halloween "costume" -- It was a total hit! especially among the middle school boys! We also had fun placing our heads among the preserved specimens in the Biology lab!

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mikeasaurus (author)  john.s.mead11 month ago

Whoa. The entire department?! This is AMAZING!!

Maybe you can have them on the shelf for the entire year. I know that would make me think twice about not studying for a science test. Great group costume by your entire team. I love it.

You get a 1-year Pro Membership for your efforts!

Great job, John!

Jarface made it!1 month ago

Had fun doing that, and even learned a thing or two about image editing (even though I used Gimp). Did a little one with "Wadeface" as well!

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mikeasaurus (author)  Jarface1 month ago

Looks great. I'm glad you did "wadeface" as well, he's my co-worker so I'll let him know he's in good company in your fridge. Speaking of your fridge...I like the contents of your fridge. Want to have me over?

Enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership!

Thrasill made it!1 month ago

Here is my version!

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mikeasaurus (author)  Thrasill1 month ago

This looks great. Love the expression.
Enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership!

zstill.fly.5 made it!1 month ago

Just chillin, thanks for the idea and photo!

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mikeasaurus (author)  zstill.fly.51 month ago

"Just a head in the fridge..don't mind me"

Enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership!

realife111 month ago

Here's my attempt using the PDF file provided in this tutorial.

I couldn't laminate it, so I used a clear (no print on it), 2 gallon plastic ziploc bag, and made sure all the air was out of it. It worked pretty good. You could also use a 1 gallon bag, but I couldn't find any that were plain and clear (no print).

I used a plastic jar, since it's easier to get and cheaper and MUCH lighter in weight when the water is added!!!!

here's my pics:

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