Replace a Head in Photoshop

by Fred Showker

Replacing elements in photos

free Photoshop tutorial from Photoshop Tips & TricksIn a recent Photoshop 911 forum inquiry, a reader asks how to replace the head of Jack Nicholson in a 1920s black and white photo. The poster wanted to replace it with his own head from a recent color photo... here's the Photoshop tutorial

This is a relatively simple exercise, and just about anyone can successfully complete this operation in little time. You can use just about any image editing software that supports layers. Between all the versions of Photoshop, CS, and Photoshop Elements, the intention of each step would be the same. So you can complete this project in any version of Photoshop running back to v3.5.

The specific areas of focus are 1) Sizing; 2) Slant; 3) Colorization; 4) Exposure. If you focus on those, one at a time, then you'll be successful. It's not magic, and there are no special gimmicks ... just simple cut, paste, size, and adjust. Since the objects of this tutorial may be very different in your scenario, be observant to elements of each step that may need tweaking or adjusting.

1. Size and Position We begin with these photos, posted to the Photoshop 911 forum : The subject, and Jack Nicholson Photo. Obviously, these are very different, and will require some pre-adjustments.

Resolution: Set the resolution of the "host" image to the final output, whether printing or deploying to the web. Set the file up the way you want it to print. This is the time to set the size, dpi resolution, etc. Now go and match those settings with the "donor" photo (the subject you'll be inserting into the "host" photo), even if it requires changes in resolution, size, etc.

Colorization: Since the photo of Jack is very old, in high contrast grayscale, we don't really have to worry that much about precision or high-tech conversion of color to grayscale as we would in some other situations. Since our host photo is in grayscale already, we can just drag over the head of the subject without too much bother of color. It will become grayscale once it arrives in the host photo.

Lasso, select, drag subject into host photo

Using the Lasso tool, draw a tight, (but not touching) selection around the subject. Tap 'V' or get the selection tool, and copy/paste, or drag-n-drop the selection into the host photo. See the results and decide on the next things to be done.

Upon arrival, next step is to SCALE the image to size

You immediately see the size relationship, as well as the conversion to black and white. Next, you'll be sizing the image, and then rotating it into the exact same attitude as Jack's head you'll be replacing.

Note you have selection handles around the image. You may need to zoom out a bit to see all of them, and some may be outside the image area in Photoshop's pasteboard.

Aligning the eyes is the key issue to making this look realistic

2. Alignment & Posture: Aligning the eyes is the key issue to making this look realistic. So I like to do this operation before anything else -- it also gives me a better visual comparison between the before-and-after as I work.

Using the Selection Tool (tap V. if not still selected) -- hover near one of the corner selection handles and begin to gently rotate the image to match the slant of Jacks. I do this visually, but here, I've drawn some guide lines to show the specific element I'm concentrating on.

NEXT: tweak and adjust, the fun part!

... continues on the next page!

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