Give your awkward portraits a Photoshop face lift. Our step-by-step Photoshop Elements tutorial shows you how to swap faces so you can rescue your portrait photography by changing a bad expression into a smile.
Facial expression is one of the most important factors in any type of portrait photography. That’s especially true of group photos and family portrait photography, where a grimace can ruin an otherwise perfect shot.
What’s more, the bigger the group the greater the probability that at any time one or more of them will be pulling an unintentional shocker. Luckily you can use a simple Photoshop face exchange technique and ‘fix’ an expression later on to save your otherwise perfect shot. The key to this, though, is to have the presence of mind to fire off a few similar frames when shooting the group – which is always a good idea.
The chances are that over several frames you’ll record decent expressions from everyone, but if no single shot cuts the mustard, it’s fairly easy to perform a little digital surgery and give someone a Photoshop face lift. To do this you’ll need to assess the images and figure out where the best place to make your digital incisions is.
We’ll show you how in this Photoshop Elements tutorial. Along the way you’ll learn key selection, mask and brush skills that come in handy for all kinds of montage techniques.
Step by step how to make a Photoshop face swap
01 Make a selection
Open your portrait with the bad expression and another version with the face you’d like to swap into Photoshop Elements. Go to the 02 image, then grab the Lasso tool from the Tools Panel and make a rough selection around the right-hand man’s head. Right-click and choose Feather. Set Feather Radius to 5 pixels and click OK.
02 Copy in the head
Grab the Move Tool from the Tools Panel then click and drag the selected head up to the tab of the 01 image. Keep holding the mouse button down as the image switches over, and drag down into the image window to copy the head in on a new layer.
03 Position the head
Go to the Layers Panel (Window>Layers) and lower the opacity of the top layer to about 50%. Drag the head into position with the Move Tool. Go to Image>Transform>Free Transform and use the bounding box to rotate and resize the head until it fits. Hit Enter to apply.
04 Add a mask
Go to the Layers Panel and drag the layer opacity of the top layer back up to 100%, then hold Alt and click the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the panel. This will add a full black layer mask that completely hides the layer. Next grab the Brush tool.
05 Paint to reveal
Choose a soft circular brush tip and set your colour to white, then paint carefully over the head to reveal the layer with the better expression. Use ] and [ to resize your brush as you paint, and if you go wrong, hit X to flip to black and paint to hide the layer.
06 Clone to tidy
Click the Create New Layer icon in the Layers Panel. Grab the Clone Tool. Set Opacity to 20% and check ‘Sample All Layers’. Hold Alt to sample a source and paint to tidy any rough areas. Use the Spot Healing tool with ‘Sample All Layers’ checked to tidy up in the same way.