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Artful Bodgers Tutorials
Face swapping tutorial 
1st-Apr-2006 05:34 pm
Face swap tutorial for beginners who've had some practice.

This is a tutorial using Corel Photo Paint which is not as popular as PSP or Photoshop, but I'll keep the instructions fairly basic. Both PSP and Photoshop have very similar tools, so adapting this should be fairly straight forward.

The manip I'm taking you through is THIS MANIP, This is what I consider a 'face' swap rather than a full head swap because you use the original hair.

I found this artwork on the Internet some time ago. Very pretty illustration by Victoria Francis:

I thought it was perfect for the 'Gothic challenge' on manippers and that Eliza Dushku's face would suit it perfectly, so I found this photo of her to use:

Obviously the base pic needed to be flipped horizontally to start with to match in with Eliza's face. Much better to swap the base pic rather than the actor's face - it's rare for someone to be perfectly symmetrical, and it does notice even if you're not sure why someone looks 'odd'.

So now we have a flipped version (I've cropped it to show just the face so you can see the process it went through:

The next step was to decide what parts of the face I would substitute. Eliza's hairline is not so different from the base pic. But she does have quite a high forehead, so I wanted to keep that as close as possible (it's another give-away that the face is manipped). So I copied the section on the base pic for use later and set it aside. Then copied Eliza's face as a separate layer and set that aside.

This is what I ended up with on my desktop:

Taking Eliza's face, I made it larger so that it was in scale with the base pic face. It didn't matter that the face was at a slightly different angle - the new angle fitted in with the neck muscles, and the chin line. This was important so that it didn't look 'wrong'. Jawlines and neck muscles are another give-away that there has been a substitution.

The face needed to be rotated to match the angle of the base, and I find a very useful tool is to make the layer temporarily transparent. This means you can see what is underneath and enlarge/rotate to fit in with the base - I could also line up the neck line so that it looked more like this was the original face/head. This is what I saw when I was doing that:

Restoring the transparency to 100% it was now time to trim down the face so that the hairline and extra background was removed. It was also important to make sure that nothing from the original face showed through. In the screencap above you can see that the original face would have been further out than the replacement face. There is a simple solution - the wonderful clone tool!! It does make the base pic look like a strange alien, but it works!

Result was this:

Then it's a matter of matching up the head again, and erasing some of the edges to blend in a little.

Because the face has been enlarged, it's lost some clarity - this can be solved on Corel with a sharpening tool. I usually like to sharpen the irises of the eyes which people automatically focus on. If you do that many people don't notice if some of the face is still a little blurry. The tone of the face also needed to be changed to matching in with the base - I used tone/brightness and contrast adjustments to get it nearer, adding a more yellow hue and desaturating until it looked right.

Next was to do something with the headdress and hair tendrils so they looked like they were part of Eliza's hair. There were already some tendrils coming down onto the neck so I needed to match those. Unfortunately there was a problem if I just used the section of hair I'd copied earlier...

So that had to be sorted out by enlarging the section and slightly rotating it so that it gave Eliza a more 'convincing' hairline that was closer to her own. The manip also needed a texture to resemble the drawing underneath, and this was achieved by using the 'smudge' tool (set to 'detail') which helped smooth out the divisions between 'old' and 'new' face and neckline.


All that it needed then was a frame to match in with the background which I did by using PSP10 and adding borders with texture and filling them with a colour sampled from the manip.

This is how I do it - which is probably very different from someone else, and I'm still learning what works and what doesn't!!

My golden rules are:

1. Flip the base, not the face - especially if you are trying to match the direction the light source is from
2. The clone tool is your friend - it can get rid of bits that 'stick out' from the original pic so when you overlay your new face/head they look convincing.
3. Match the tone/brightness/contrast/hue of the face/head to the base. Everything will then look like it was photographed/drawn at the same time.
4. Smudge tools help blend the 'joins' especially if they are used sparingly. Blend tools can then be used after the 'tone' of the join has been smudged together to smooth it out again. Be careful not to do this too much otherwise jawlines can disappear.
5. Sharpen key areas of the faces - irises, eyebrows, nostrils, liplines, ears, hair can make the face/head look 'sharper'.
6. Don't over blend - unless you are doing for a specific 'style' you can end up with people looking a little too 'plastic', especially with photographs.
7. Add/remove 'noise' to make the texture of the face/head match the body (especially useful if you are using a scanned pic.)
8. Light sources need to match - if the light comes from one direction on the face/head and another on the body it just looks strange.
9. If you can't see what is 'wrong' with a manip - save it and go back to it another time. Sometimes you just need to avoid it for a while and then you can see what you're doing wrong (or delete it if you're still not happy!).
10. Have fun!! It doesn't matter if you make mistakes, and sometimes things just don't work well. It doesn't matter because 'practice makes perfect'... even if that takes a while *shudders at some of her early stuff!*

Hope this was useful!
20th-Sep-2006 07:19 am (UTC)
You are welcome, and I'm pleased that someone found it useful! Like the manip you made - be careful, it can get addictive! LOL!
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