Touch-Up Tuesday: Head Swap!
I completely missed last week’s Touch-Up Tuesday, but I promised that I would share a “head-swapping” experience from my family portrait session with Sarah at Loving My Life. Trying to get a decent family picture where everyone is looking at the camera is not easy. However, you can fake it if you know how to seamlessly swap heads. 
I opted for having both parents looking at the camera (they’re even smiling)…I thought that Dustyn attempting to give his brother a kiss (I promise, he was kissing not biting) added character. However, Sarah is smiling in the shot on the left and her husband is smiling in the shot on the right. Thus…a head swap was needed.
IMG_7611 SOOC RS       IMG_7613 SOOC RS

Before you get started, you should have two similarly exposed and posed shots. I basically took the shots above in Adobe Camera Raw, made very quick adjustments and brought them into Photoshop Elements 7. It’s much easier to fully process the photos after the head swap. I’m essentially using the same technique I’ve used when replacing backgrounds.

With that said, I started with the photo on the left. I used the quick selection tool (circled – top left) to select much of Kenny’s upper half and the surround scenery. This way, we’re not only swapping the head, but also the background – seamless.
Head Swap 1
Once I made my selection, I clicked CTRL+J to move that selection into it’s own layer.
Head Swap 2
I had the photo on the right ready to go in the bin (at the bottom of Photoshop Elements). I used the move tool to drag and drop it right on top of the other photo. I then pulled the corners to align it with the other photo for a perfect fit.
Head Swap 3
I then clicked CTRL+G to group the top photo layer with the previous layer. This moved the new selection right into the space we previously chose to replace. You’ll then just use your healing tool to make sure that no obvious lines are showing (and if you look closely below, this is not a clean finish at all…I quickly recreated it last night just to show the basic technique).
Head Swap 4
From there, I processed normally using Pioneer Woman’s Boost Action (adjusted) and Everyday Elements’ Florida Action (also adjusted to my taste). So, what do you think? I think this is much easier than the PSE head swapping tool.
IMG_7611 RS
If you have questions, just let me know…otherwise, for more touch-ups, go to:
Photography love...

    I have not done anything like this with my photos, exchanging heads – very Halloween!

    I head swapped my Violet last year for the Christmas card :) Great tutorial – thanks!

    Great tutorial!
    Thank you!


    Wow- great job- you wouldn’t even know it!

    WAY easier than the head-swapping tool. That thing always creates too much blur around the edges. I love this – it’s going into my toolkit!

    Wow! Great job! I have never done something like this before. Great job.

    Awesome! Great job!

    That is awesome! I need to do that.

    Oh man! This is a super tutorial. I wish I had CS4 or 5 or even Elements.

    Super job on the head swap!

    So amazing, Ashley. Wow.

    I think you did a great job. I can’t even tell on the big picture. Great tutorial. :)

    That is sooo cool.

    I realy want to try this on a photo I took with 4 kids under 5, so you can emagein how many are looking into the camara at a time there.

    Oh great tutorial ! Thank you Ashley ! :)

    Thanks for the tutorial Ashley! I really need to try this!

    wow that is good i wish i had photoshop. maybe someday.

    Thanks!! I was wondering how to do this! I need to find that ‘healing tool’ though.. it’s probably in another tutorial of yours~!

    You never fail to amaze me! NEVER! I seriously need to try this ’cause I often pass over these kinds of photos and forget about the potential with a little elbow grease and love! I’ve officially bookmarked this tutorial for future reference!

    WOW.. That is so amazing.. well done. I am just trying to learn to work with the layers. Thanks so much for the tutorial.. It is cool to see how it works.. Hope you are having a happy day.. ~Linda

    Wow great edit. I’ve seen some people do that but it never looks as good.

    Nice job! :D

    I did a head swap this summer with a picture of my Great-Aunts. Worked perfectly. :)

    I am beyond impressed! Makes up for the missing touch up last week! You shopped it all in this week girl! XOXO

    Amazing difference, and such a neat process! Thank you for sharing this!

    I’ve been playing around with head swapping. Still not my favorite thing to do.I always feel like I can tell that it’s been altered, but maybe it’s just because I know it’s been done! The head swapping on this one looks seamless!! Great job!

    I have been trying to do this myself with no luck but I was using a different technique. I think I’ll try yours and see if it works better. Thanks for the tips! Yours really looks great.

    I love it when you show us what goes on behind the scenes. This looks amazing! I’m sure the parents were really happy with the final picture.

    oh wow that is so cool! Great job! I’m nowhere near ready to try something like this,but I’m so impressed that you can do it!

    That is truly amazing! :O)

    Awesome! Thanks for the tutorial. I haven’t been brave enough to try this yet…

    holy buckets, that is awesome! Thanks for giving us this little tut – it was very helpful!!

    I’ve never attempted something so advanced. Wow, I’m impressed!

    lol awesome!

    lovely edit Ashley

    That is amazing!!!

    Thanks for this easy tutorial. I have tried to swap some items in photos, but now I realize I may not be taking enough of a chunk out of the photo.

    I will give it a try when I come across another incident such as this.

    Your headswap turned out wonderfully!! I can’t wait to try your technique. I’ve always used the PSE Photomerge Faces guided edit. It works, but it can be a pain. Thank you!!! You are such an inspiration :)

    oh my gees I have been trying to figure this out for a while! totally gonna have to try it now.

    Great tutorial! I’m going to have to find time to try this sometime soon.

    I’ve been enjoying your posts – I still visit regularly, just usually get distracted by a phone call or client coming in before I get the chance to comment.

    Wow, I need to get some new photo editing software. That is a great job.

    This is one of the coolest tutorials I’ve ever read! Thanks so much for sharing!

    That’s wonderful!! Sooo much easier than the head swap tool!

    I’ve tried this out several times today and LOVE IT! You have to have just the right photos but it totally works. THANKS!!! Any chance you might post some tips on using the healing tool to make the merge look more natural?

    Hi there! I’m new to this website and am just catching up on your posts but I do have a q – why do you choose Elements over Photoshop? I’ve been using photoshop to edit my photos and want to get into Elements.

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! So helpful for those shoots with kids!! -Stefanie M. @sMmPhotog

    Perfect! This is just what I needed to fix my expensive wedding photos chock-full of limb and forehead chops. Thanks!

    Oh my how awesome is this….thanks for sharing your knowledge. I wish I felt comfortable with Photoshop as I think I should after having it for over a year. I do open it but I still haven’t conquer much of anything I think I feel intimidated by it and fearfull of damaging my pictures ….I know it’s silly to think like this but I do. I just hope soon I can get over this.