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How to Replace a Face (Face Swap!) in Photoshop

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Knowing how to do a face swap in Photoshop is convenient for every photographer. You can use this technique to fix closed eyes or just swap heads for fun. This tool is also useful if you own an e-commerce business and want to add variety to your product photos.

Either way, here is an easy way to swap faces in Photoshop.

an image of a man's portrait opened in photoshop

Will a Face Swap 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.

It won’t look natural anymore once you have to bend and twist a face to make it fit. 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 is impossible to make the image look natural when the difference is too big.

If you wish to create a face swap, Photoshop will be your best choice. Something like this is not easy or possible with Adobe Lightroom.

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 nearly identical photos.

I will swap heads between two photos with the same evening light in this example.

two images preparing to do a face swap in photoshop

How to Make a Face Swap 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 will 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.

two images being used 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 the Move tool.

an image of two men on the beach. one man has photoshop marching ants around his face

Step 3: Improve the Selection With a Mask

Click on the Quick Mask button on the left menu to create a mask. Or you can also do it from the Layers panel. After that, use the Brush tool to improve the selection, now shown as a red layer mask. 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.

an image of two men in photoshop used as an example of where to find a layer mask

an image of two men in photoshop with a layer mask applied for swapping their faces

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 face layer on the background layer. Cmd + C and Cmd + V for Mac OS and Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V for Windows.

Position the face layer to replace the original head. 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.

an image of a man on a bicycle and another man's head before face swap in photoshop

Step 5: Use’ Auto-Blend Layers’ if Necessary

If the skin tones from both subjects are different, you can use the Auto-Blend Layers option. This tool works by blending the background layer with the face layer. Go to ‘Edit’ in the Photoshop menu to choose this option. Then, select Auto-Blend Layers. Make sure you tick off the ‘seamless tones and colours option.

a screenshot of photoshop auto blend layers

Step 6: Make Final Adjustments to the Face Swap

In this case, the face layer already looked good, but I made a few minor adjustments. I erased some areas from the 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 layer when the lighting in both pictures is different. You can select ‘Layer Effects’ on the layers panel. Then, select the option to create a drop shadow.

an image of a man on a bicycle with another man's head face swapped

And there you have it. A perfect face swap!

an example of a face swap in photoshop of a man on a bicycle with another man's head

Conclusion

Now you can fix closed eyes and make a face swap in Photoshop for fun. Pay attention to the lighting and position of the head before starting to swap faces. You want the result to look natural.

In this example, I also used the masking technique. This technique is essential when learning how to edit photos in Photoshop. It is convenient 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 will use it in almost all future projects.

Try out our Effortless Editing course to master all the secrets of professional editing in Lightroom.

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