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How to Replace a Face in Adobe Photoshop

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Knowing how to replace a face (headswap) in Adobe Photoshop is useful for every photographer. You can use this technique to fix closed eyes or swap heads and faces for fun.

Either way, here’s an easy way to headswap in Adobe Photoshop.

Will a Headswap Work for Your Pictures?

Whether a face swap will look good depends on a few factors. The most important ones are the positioning of the head and lighting.

The position of the head you want to replace has to be similar to the head you are going to copy. This will get you the most natural result. You can bend and distort a flat surface in Adobe Photoshop but that doesn’t work for a human face.

Once you have to bend and twist a face to make it fit, it won’t look natural anymore. No amount of retouching will help that.

Also, the light on both faces has to be similar. Putting the head or the face of a person in direct sunlight on the body of a person in the shade is very difficult.

It’s impossible to make the image look natural when the difference is too big.

We are using Adobe Photoshop as something like this isn’t easy or possible with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Comparing photos to see if they will work for a face swap in photoshop
The light is too different to replace a face.

Keep it simple when you try to replace a face for the first time. Find photos with faces that have almost the same position and lighting. The best way to start is to use two almost identical photos.

In this example, I’ll swap heads between two photos I took in India. Both have the same evening light.

Replacing a Face in Photoshop: Step-by-Step

Step 1: Open Both Photos in Photoshop

Open the photos and put them next to each other. Zoom in on the image from which you are going to copy the face and head.

I will replace the face of the man on the bicycle with the face of the man in the middle.

Comparing photos to see if they will work for a face swap in photoshop

Step 2: Select the Face You Want to Swap Into Your Image

Start making a selection using the quick selection tool. The shortcut is W. It doesn’t have to be perfect yet and you can use other selection tools too.

There is another way to do this step, but it involves the lasso tool and then the move tool.

A screenshot showing how to replace a face in Photoshop
A screenshot showing how to replace face in Photoshop

Step 3: Improve the Selection With a Mask

Click on the quick mask button to create a mask. Use the brush tool to improve the selection, now shown as a red layer. Painting with white adds pixels and painting with black removes pixels from the selection.

You can switch between black and white using the shortcut X. This is one of the best Photoshop tips to know in general.

A screenshot showing how to swop faces in Photoshop
A screenshot showing how to replace a face in Photoshop

Step 4: Copy and Replace the Face in the Second Photo

Click the quick mask button again once your selection is finished. This will take you back to standard mode editing.

Copy and paste the head on the second photo. Cmd + C and Cmd + V for Mac OS and Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V for Windows.

Position the head to replace the original face. Now you have a new face as a new layer mask. You now have one of the worlds most unique models, as the head and body are from two different people.

Thankfully you thought about the skin tones, so the head swapping doesn’t stick out too much.

A screenshot showing how to replace face in Photoshop

Step 5: Make Final Adjustments to the Face Swap

In this case, it already looked good but I made a few minor adjustments. I erased some areas of his beard with a soft brush and made the head smaller for a perfect fit.

Use Cmd + T for Mac OS to resize the layer. Ctrl + T for Windows.

Sometimes it helps to add shadow to the face when the lighting in both pictures is different.

A screenshot showing how to replace a face in Photoshop
And there you have it. A perfect face swap!

Indian man riding a bike at a flee market - face swapped in Photoshop


Now you can start to fix closed eyes and swap heads for fun. Pay attention to lighting and position of the head before starting the headswap project. You want the result to look natural.

In this example, I also used the masking technique. The masking technique is essential when learning how to edit photos in Photoshop. It’s useful for a dozen different things and is one of the most important techniques to learn.

Practice this technique when swapping faces in Photoshop and master it. You’ll use it in almost all future projects.

Check out this cool video we’ve found on how to swap faces in Photoshop.


Now check out how to clone yourself in Photoshop!

Looking for an even easier way to swap faces? See this article for a list of fun smartphone face swap apps!

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