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

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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ymasullo23 hours 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.


Going to be making this and placing it in the fridge at work should make for an interesting shift lol

Pinkly6 months ago

Hilarious. You can have your own room full of heads just like the Governor in the third season of The Walking Dead. LOL

My thoughts exactly!!!!! My son is going to be VERY surprised!!!!!!! BIG TWD fans here!

rkochman6 months ago

It's a lot easier to use a real head. That's what I did.

LadyEz rkochman6 months ago

Best comment.

rkochman LadyEz6 months ago
Unfortunately, many people took me seriously. The police are at the door.


CSA70 made it!5 months ago

My husband teaches eighth grade and I thought this would be the perfect April Fool's prank for him to pull in the teachers lounge. I took a photo of him with his face smashed up against a window and laminated it as suggested. We didn't have any food coloring on hand, so I used some yellow and brown Rit Fabric Dye instead. I also added a spoonful of flour and some bits of chicken for "floating debris". Cheap craft fur was added to look like hair, which was kept afloat by an empty plastic bottle place underneath.

The head made it's way throughout the school and eventually ended up in the closet of an unsuspecting teacher who was away for a few days. Thanks for the the tutorial~it was a hit :)


I think the face against the glass was a very good touch. Now if there was a rumor about him being missing.... I can see that this could be a great prank.

mikeasaurus (author)  CSA705 months ago

Ooh, the hair is a nice touch. Glad is spooked a few people.

Thanks for sharing, enjoy the Pro Membership!

CSA70 mikeasaurus5 months ago

Thanks for the membership and patch ;)

Having a huge forehead like mine made it problematic. I also had trouble finding a big enough jar. Definitely don't get one from Amazon...I had two of them arrive that sounded like maracas when I picked up the box, which made returning them simple, as I hadn't even opened them.
mikeasaurus (author)  SlappyMcAssSmack7 days ago

Your mighty forehead is what makes your head in a jar awesome :D

Enjoy the patch and 3-month Pro!


mikedmeyer26 days ago

Pro tip: Choose a jar with a neck remotely large enough for a head to have been fit through in the first place.

slamort made it!2 months ago

I actually took three pictures, a separate one for both sides, so they are consistent with the lighting
€7.50 jar from Blokker
€4.25 printjob including lamination
A bit more green and a lot less blue food coloring than I intended.
Thank you for this awesome idea :D

mikeasaurus (author)  slamort27 days ago

That look on your face is so good, and I like the colouring.

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

Thank you :)

LilyL made it!1 month ago

this is amazing. thank you mikeasaurus for bringing this into my life. =^.^=

i did all three end to end in just over 2 hrs, and $10 (already had the jars)

photo 1 (3).JPGphoto 2 (4).JPGphoto 3 (3).JPG
mikeasaurus (author)  LilyL27 days ago

Whoa, 3 jar heads?! I hope you scared a few people.

Thanks for sharing this. Since you did so many, I've given you double 3-month Pro Membership!

patatarium3 months ago
Hahahahaha check cette connerie lollllll
Sebastian Cardoso made it!3 months ago

Hi, thanks for the instructions, my camp is more fun. My mother hated! and I did a tutorial in Portuguese:

mikeasaurus (author)  Sebastian Cardoso3 months ago

Oooh, spooky by the fire!

Thanks for sharing your version (and I love your avatar image). Enjoy the patch and 3-month Pro Membership!

TrieuIV3 months ago

ha ha ha :v funny ^^

bauerbach3 months ago
Nice Halloween prank!
lebowski made it!5 months ago

Justin Bieber right where he should be. I used pixlr for my photo editing. The blending was tough, I mostly used the clone tool, and played with opacity for some blending effects. I'll let you know how the prank goes tomorrow.

cdi nova lebowski4 months ago

How'd the prank go? LOL..

Tried using pixlr but couldn't get rid of the borders around each photo to merge the forward and profile together.

mikeasaurus (author)  lebowski5 months ago

The only good Bieber is a jar head Bieber.

cdi nova made it!4 months ago

I did it! Well, sort of..I cheated..didn't laminate or do water yet..not happy with my editing job so will continue to play when I have time...then go for the rest of the process.

simmew2 made it!5 months ago

Just a quick test. I´m not fully satisfied, but now i know how to do it ^^

2014-04-16 17.30.20.jpg
bmurray12 simmew24 months ago
I like the original better tbh
mikeasaurus (author)  simmew25 months ago

Ha, looks great!

Please share your update when you do this again, I'd love to see it. Enjoy the patch and 3-month Pro.

Thank you very much for the pro membership ^^
cdi nova4 months ago

Don't have the necessary photo program :-( If I uploaded the pics of my BF, would someone be able to do it for me? :-)

ThisIsSteve4 months ago

I bet I could freak out my friends with this. Really awesome.

lindarose924 months ago

Look at what I have just found on Facebook:

The world is small. Or maybe I should say "the web" is small! :D

mikeasaurus (author)  lindarose924 months ago

I'm Facebook famous in Italian!

bob813544 months ago

can you tell me what editing software you use

brianm9105 months ago

What color of food colouring is best?

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