EDIT SKILLS: FACE OFF

LET US GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE PRAC­TICE OF DIG­I­TAL FACE SWAP­PING FOR GUAR­AN­TEED GREAT GROUP SHOTS

Digital SLR Photography - - Contents -

Guar­an­tee great group shots by stack­ing the odds in your favour – shoot plenty and pick the best faces!

IT SOUNDS LIKE a med­i­cal pro­ce­dure, but fear not – the face swap­ping here doesn’t in­volve any sur­gi­cal knowl­edge. All you need is two or more im­ages from the same group por­trait, some edit­ing soft­ware and a few min­utes of your time.

Gen­er­ally, face or head swap­ping comes into its own when pho­tograph­ing groups of peo­ple – in­evitably in any group por­trait there will be at least one per­son who’s blink­ing, sneez­ing, look­ing at their phone or not pay­ing at­ten­tion when you press the shut­ter. There­fore, it’s al­ways wise to cap­ture a se­ries of im­ages, each a sec­ond or two apart, from the same fo­cal length and po­si­tion. Pro­vid­ing you have at least one pleas­ing frame of each per­son, you can carry out this sim­ple tech­nique. The re­sult is a fi­nal im­age in which you’ve man­aged to get ev­ery­one to look nicely at the cam­era at the same time. Let’s get into it.

1 ORIG­I­NAL IM­AGE ORIG­I­NAL IM­AGE 2

6 FI­NAL

TOUCHES Once you’re all done and happy that the trans­for­ma­tion looks nat­u­ral, you can now merge the lay­ers ( Layer> Merge Vis­i­ble) and carry out fi­nal ed­its be­fore sav­ing the im­age. It’s al­ways best to fix pixel- based prob­lems be­fore the rest of your edit­ing, so as not to waste time if the im­age isn’t sal­vage­able, and also to en­sure that the fi­nal im­age has a con­sis­tent look to it.

4 MASK

THE NEW LAYER Add a black Layer Mask ( Layer> Layer Mask> Hide All). Se­lect the Brush tool and, with White as your colour, use a soft brush to care­fully re­veal the ‘ cor­rect’ face. Again, with blink­ing sub­jects this is eas­ily done. If you’re deal­ing with a turned head, then the ideal place to blend the two im­ages is in the hair­line and neck. Take your time and brush care­fully.

5 SHIFT

AND TRANS­FORM The new face might need more tweak­ing to look nat­u­ral. Use the Move tool to re­po­si­tion the top layer, or use Free Trans­form to scale or ro­tate to fit. You’ll prob­a­bly find that you’ll need to go be­tween mask­ing and trans­form­ing a few times be­fore you’re happy. Zoom in and care­fully check where the two frames meet – any in­con­sis­ten­cies will stand out!

2 COM­BINE

THE FRAMES Open your fi­nal im­age and the frame with the head for re­place­ment in your soft­ware. I’m us­ing Pho­to­shop but El­e­ments or Affin­ity Photo works too. Se­lect the cor­rect face, then copy and paste it onto the fi­nal im­age. If you're re­plac­ing closed eyes then you may not have to move any­thing, but if their head has moved, some cor­rect­ing might be needed.

3 LINE

THINGS UP At the top of the Lay­ers pal­ette, re­duce the opac­ity of the new layer to around 50% to al­low you to see through it, then use the Trans­form tool ( Edit> Trans­form> Free Trans­form) to po­si­tion the new face. Try to line up the eyes, nose and mouth by mov­ing or ro­tat­ing the top layer, if needed. Once happy, press the En­ter key and re­mem­ber to re­turn the opac­ity to 100%.

1 PICK

YOUR IM­AGES Re­view your im­ages and iden­tify your favourite shot. De­pend­ing on the size of the group, you might need to swap one or more peo­ple’s faces for more pleas­ing re­sults. It's best to go through all the frames at the time of shoot­ing to en­sure ev­ery­one is look­ing at the cam­era in least one frame to give you a re­place­ment should you need it. With­out it, you might be stuck.

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