EDIT SKILLS: FACE OFF
LET US GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE PRACTICE OF DIGITAL FACE SWAPPING FOR GUARANTEED GREAT GROUP SHOTS
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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%.
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.