performing a head swap in photoshop elements

by Melissa Gibson

Oftentimes, during a session, someone is either not looking at the camera or is making a goofy face.  With my little ones?  It’s more than likely a goofy face.  However, no worries!  If you have a good handle on how to swap heads in Photoshop Elements (aka PSE) you’ll have a little less stress when you’re editing the session.  This is a really handy editing tip that you’ll love to use.

Keep in mind, this isn’t just used for head swaps.  You can also use the steps if you need to swap arms, legs, dogs, cats, even eyes.  In this example, I’m going to swap the head of my little girl’s best buddy.

Step 1:  Open the images you are working with (in this case, I’m using two) and determine which head is being swapped.  Select the area you want to use in THE NEW IMAGE.  You do this by selecting the lasso tool.  I over select the area so that it’s easy to blend in.

Step 2:  Once you’ve selected the area, copy it by going to Edit > Copy

performing a head swap in photoshop elements photo

performing a head swap in photoshop elements photo

Step 3:  Bring up your second image.  THIS WILL BE YOUR FINAL IMAGE.  Paste the area that you just copied into this image by going to Edit > Paste.  Use the Move tool to drag the area into the correct spot in the new image.  You can adjust the opacity of this layer if you want to see the OLD head that is hiding underneath.  This is sometimes helpful to do in order to match it up easier.

performing a head swap in photoshop elements photo

performing a head swap in photoshop elements photo

Step 4:  Now you’ll need to add a mask to this layer so that you can brush off the extra area and blend in this new head.  If you are in PSE9, simply go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All to add the mask.  If you are Elements 8 or lower, you will need to download an action that will allow you to add a mask.  You can get a free action from The Coffeeshop Blog.  Just search “layer mask action”.  This action will change your life!

performing a head swap in photoshop elements photo

Step 5:  Now comes the fun part.  You’re ready to brush and blend in the new head by selecting a soft black brush (remember, black reveals what’s underneath) and setting the opacity of the brush to 100%.  Zoom in a bit and start brushing the edges.  If you mess up?  No problem, just select a white brush (remember, white conceals…or covers up) and brush over your mistake.  You can switch back and forth between black and white brushes until you have it just right.

performing a head swap in photoshop elements photo

performing a head swap in photoshop elements photo

Once you have the image looking great, just flatten and save.  I like to save a copy that is NOT flattened as well.

performing a head swap in photoshop elements photo

And there you have it!  How fun is that?  I really love doing head swaps…or foot swaps….or doggie swaps.  I hope this tutorial was helpful and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have!

performing a head swap in photoshop elements photo

performing a head swap in photoshop elements photoMelissa Gibson, Georgia
Copywriter | CMU Instructor | CM Mentor
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Melissa is a proud MWAC who gears up with a Nikon D700, prime lenses, and edits her “fun, childlike, and whimsical” photography solely in Photoshop Elements. Melissa is one of the instructors for CMU’s Mastering Manual Exposure and the new Processing 103: Photoshop Elements and her goal both now and when she first began her photography journey in 2005 is to, in her own words, “remember my girls’ lives for them. They are so young yet growing so quickly. I know they won’t remember it all so I feel it’s my job to document it for them.” She is a self proclaimed goofball that loves reading, giggling, sweet tea, her iPhone, kisses, instagram, and having fun with her small family which includes her husband and three darling girls.

Read all photography tutorials from Melissa Gibson.

performing a head swap in photoshop elements photo

 sponsor giveaway update!

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Thank you to Shaded Studio for sponsoring today’s blog post!  Shaded Studio offers actions, presets, designs, and templates to simplify your workflow and free up your time.  How great is that?! They have also generously giving away a $100 gift card to their store to one lucky random winner!

performing a head swap in photoshop elements photo

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