Linda’s Tip

Week of July 30, 2007

What's the Difference?
by Linda Sattgast

Have you ever tried swapping heads in a photo? You might want to do this when you like everything about a photo except the facial expression. Another similar photo might not be as nice overall, but the facial expression is good.

When you swap heads you can use the Opacity slider to help you position one head over the other, but there's another tool that sometimes works better: the Difference mode.

Here's how to swap heads and use the Difference mode to help position the new head so it looks natural.

  • With the Lasso tool, draw a selection outline around the head with the good expression. Include some extra room around the head, if possible.
Difference
  • Choose Select > Feather. When the dialog box comes up, type in around 5 pixels for the Feather Radius. (You may need to use higher feathering for photos with high resolutions.)
  • Choose Edit > Copy to copy the selection.
  • Move to the photo that needs a new head and choose Edit > Paste.
  • Click on the menu at the top of the Layers palette that says "Normal" and change it to "Difference."
Difference
  • Press Ctrl + T (Mac: Cmd + T) to get a transform outline around the new head.
  • Click inside the transform outline and move the new head over the old head.
  • When you're not lined up, you can see the face showing through.
Difference
  • Use the arrow keys to move the face into place, or, as in this case, I want to line up the shoulders and jacket.
  • When an area is lined up perfectly, it turns black. You may not get a perfect match, but get as close as you can.
Difference
  • Double click inside the Transform outline to accept it, and change the Blend mode back to "Normal."
  • If you see some edges, get the Eraser tool, select a soft brush from the Brush Picker, reduce the opacity in the Options Bar to 50% and erase the edges.
Difference

Difference
Before

Difference
After

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