How to Swap Faces in Photoshop in Four Easy Steps


Our friend Pye Jirsa from SLR Lounge recently teamed up with the folks from Adorama to put together a very handy Photoshop tutorial you may want to bookmark for later. In this video, he shows you how to swap faces and expressions in four easy steps.

We’ve all been there: you’re looking through photos from a fun shoot like Pye’s backyard water balloon portraits above, and you find that the best expression and the best … everything else … are found in two different shots. The simple solution is to paste the best expression from one photo onto the best overall frame for everything else.

While “swapping faces” between two shots might seem like pretty advanced retouching, as Pye explains in the video, it really isn’t that hard.

It takes just four steps:

  1. RAW Process Both Images: If you want consistent results when merging, it’s critical that the overall edit on both images match.
  2. Open and Align Layers in Photoshop: Open the images as layers in Photoshop and use Edit > Auto-Align Layers to line up the two layers if they aren’t already overlapping.
  3. Blend the two Layers Using a Layer Mask: Using a layer mask, “paint” in the expression that you want over the previous expression.
  4. Add a Final Curves Layer: Use a Curves Adjustment Layer to make any final contrast/color adjustments and match the two images that you’re blending.

And that’s it. Those are the basic steps. If you follow these four steps and spend a bit of time getting your mask just right, the result will look something like this:

If you want to practice this using these exact images, you can download both original RAW photos at this link. Obviously listing the steps above probably isn’t enough if you’re just doing this for the first time, so if you want to try this at home, definitely try to follow along with the tutorial.

This is a technique that many portrait photographers—professional and otherwise—will need to use at some point or another. So if you want an easy, step-by-step breakdown that shows you exactly how to swap faces (without using some sort of AI… that is) check out the full video up top.

And if you want to see more ‘Mastering Your Craft’ tutorials, keep an eye on the Adorama YouTube channel.

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