Introduction: Fun With Face-Swapping in Photoshop CC 2019

Have you ever wondered what Barbra Streisand would look like with the face of Nicolas Cage? Or how Justin Bieber would look if you swapped his face with Anthony Hopkins? If the answer is yes, Adobe Photoshop is the answer to all your prayers! In less than ten minutes, you can easily make anyone look like anyone else. You can change the faces of your best friends and your worst enemies for fun in this simple process, and it won’t take long to learn how at all. There are multiple methods to face-swapping with Photoshop, but this method is simple, quick, and requires minimal knowledge of Photoshop's workings. Now, without further ado, let us begin the entertaining journey of face-swapping!

Materials Needed:

  • A Computer with Adobe Photoshop CC 2019
  • Imagination
*Note*: These instructions are for recreational use only. Please refrain from using them for illegal activities such as identity theft and document falsification.

Step 1: Find Some Faces

Find two photos of two people. They do not have to be the same gender, but it is advisable for them to have similar skin tones and facial positioning. Each image should be of similar quality and should be at least 700x700 pixels to ensure good quality. It looks really weird when you have a blurry face on a pristine head. You can find a good image using Google Image search. Save your images to your computer so you can open them in Photoshop.

Step 2: Unlock the Backgrounds

After you open up your two images in Photoshop, unlock the backgrounds on both pictures by clicking the padlock symbol next to Background in the bottom-right layer panel. This allows the photos to be edited without any restrictions. If you do not unlock the backgrounds, you're going to have a hard time getting anything done.

Step 3: Select the Face You Want to Swap

Use the "Lasso Tool" in Photoshop to select the face of one of the photos, tracing around the eyebrows, cheeks, and lips. There are other tools you can use for this step, but the "Lasso"allows you to quickly and easily select the area you need. Staying close to the edges of the eyebrows, cheeks, and lips lets you select only the necessary facial features. Too much forehead or too much chin can look strange across different faces.

Note: If the face you are selecting has a beard, then trace around the full beard.

Step 4: Copy & Paste

Copy the selected area using Ctrl+C and paste it onto the other photo using Ctrl+V. Right-clicking to copy and paste does not work in Photoshop. The picture that the face has been pasted onto will become Layer 0, while the face itself will become Layer 1.

Step 5: Lower the Pasted Face's Opacity

While not a necessity, it helps to change the opacity of Layer 1 so you can line it up correctly. The opacity bar is located above the layers panel in the bottom-right corner. Set the opacity to around 60%. I’ve found through my many face-swapping endeavors that this is a good level of opacity where you can see each face and how they overlap.

Step 6: Resize the Face

While selecting Layer 1, press Ctrl+T and drag the corners of the box in order to resize the image. Do your best to align the features of each face so that they match as closely as possible. The last thing you want is someone’s mouth where their nose is supposed to be.

Step 7: Duplicate "Layer 0"

Be sure to return Layer 0 to its full opacity then duplicate it by right-clicking it in the bottom-right layer and selecting "Duplicate Layer." While it does not matter what you rename the copied layer, I will refer to it as Body. You could name it “McFiddle Rumpysticks” for all it’s worth. Duplicating the layer allows there to be a base reference point underneath what you'll be working with.

Step 8: Create a Clipping Mask

Hold Ctrl+click the thumbnail of Layer 1 to create a clipping mask. Then navigate to "Select," then "Modify," and click "Contract." Set the value to 10 pixels. This will create an overlap between the two faces.

Note: The higher the quality of the photos being used, the larger the value of pixels needed. Too much overlap will drown out the swapped face, and not enough overlap will produce no results. I've found that 10 pixels works out most of the time.

Step 9: Delete the Clipping Mask From Layer 0 and Body

Hide Layer 1 by clicking the eye symbol next to it in the bottom-right layer panel. Select the layers Body and Layer 0 individually and press delete on each one. This will erase the clipping mask from each layer. In its place should be an empty hole.

Step 10: Auto-Blend Layer 1 and Body

Deselect the now-empty hole by pressing Ctrl+D and make Layer 1 visible again by clicking the eye symbol next to it. Once that is done, hold Ctrl and click both Layer 1 and Body. Both layers should now be selected. Once both layers are selected, navigate to "Edit" and select "Auto-Blend Layers." Press "OK" on the dialogue box. This is where the magic happens.

Step 11: Optional: Touch Up Your New Face-Swap

If there are any parts of the photo that look off-base, discolored, or inconsistent, select the "Spot Healing Brush" on the toolbar. Use this tool to click any discolored or troubling areas, and it will automatically even them out.

Note: This step is optional. You may find that you don't need to perform this action!

Congratulations! You should now have a glorious photo of somebody’s face on somebody else’s head. This is only one of the fun applications for Photoshop, and it’s a good first step into learning how to use the program. Hopefully you have enjoyed this process, and I hope this experience has opened your mind to the endless face-swapping possibilities available in the world.