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Thread: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

  1. #21
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Thank you Manfred... I see that I missed that last step...

    Here is my final try using your way which I decided is not that hard to learn, it is just a matter of developing ones skills to be as refined as yours


    Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one


    And here is my edit trying Mark's alternate suggestion which was easier in a way but harder to blend.


    Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one


    I can see why it is important that the photo conditions are alike because I can see the different lighting, colours and even how hard it was to line up the eye glasses to match in the head swap.

    Anyway, far from perfect but I managed to do it. Thank you to all, especially Manfred.

  2. #22
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Well done Christina!

    There are all kinds of different techniques that are used in retouching and the choice of which one you pick often depends on the material you have to work with. As with anything, practice makes perfect (I've been using Photoshop since CS came out (2003), so I've had lots of time to try different things and to hone my skills.

    I use the technique that Mark described very often, but never in this type of retouching. I find it works great for contouring, but as you found out, it takes a lot of time and patience to rework shadows. I find I will use it to lighten shadows, but there are better techniques if you have to eliminate them completely.

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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Hi Christina,

    I took the opposite path from Manfred and put the basic source on the bottom layer and the donors above.
    The layer named Face was aligned on the woman's eyeglasses and the whole face revealed. Note the very black mask with the little dot of white.
    The layer named Wave was rotated to orient the two horizons and then adjusted to the waving man's neckline. As you can see from the white in the layer mask, I revealed quite a bit: from his neckline, down his body (just missing the team device on his shirt) and the forward leg as well as the (camera) left edge of his rear leg all the way to the edge of the frame. These are done with a soft edge brush so there is a deal of blending here.
    At the end of the day, no heads were swapped.
    Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

  4. #24
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Quote Originally Posted by HenkB View Post
    Hi Christina,

    I took the opposite path from Manfred and put the basic source on the bottom layer and the donors above.
    The layer named Face was aligned on the woman's eyeglasses and the whole face revealed. Note the very black mask with the little dot of white.
    The layer named Wave was rotated to orient the two horizons and then adjusted to the waving man's neckline. As you can see from the white in the layer mask, I revealed quite a bit: from his neckline, down his body (just missing the team device on his shirt) and the forward leg as well as the (camera) left edge of his rear leg all the way to the edge of the frame. These are done with a soft edge brush so there is a deal of blending here.
    At the end of the day, no heads were swapped.
    Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    One has to love Photoshop; there are always many different ways to tackle a problem.

    Christina - just to add to Hendrik's comments - There is a saying in Photoshop layer masks; "black conceal while white reveals". This is a technique I use as well, a black mask conceals the front image and by painting with a white brush, one reveals the front image. Holding down the <Alt> key when you click on the mask button creates a black layer mask. He's absolutely right; you can also do a body transplant and leave the head along. Again, not knowing Elements, I don't know the tools that it offers, but in full Photoshop there are some interesting transform tools (warp tool) that can sometimes be used to help fit some objects (hats and glasses, for instance) on the new head or face.

    In the technique I used, the white mask where the image with the mask is totally visible and painting in black allows the layer below to become exposed. It is brought in by clicking the mask button and then painting in black to block the top image and reveal the bottom one.

    Which to choose? That depends a bit on personal taste and what you are trying to do. I generally try to pick the masking approach that results in the least amount of work

  5. #25
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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Manfred....

    Well done Christina! Thank you - your comment means a lot as I struggled with doing this but even though it is not perfect, I managed to do it, thanks to your guidance (and others)

    Yes, I believe Elements has black and white masks because I remember reading (albeit not comprehending) about them in my book. Good to know. I can also see why photographers who photograph people at events would like and need to use layer masks, actually even just for snap shots of friends so everyone is happy with the way they look and has a photo they enjoy.

    Hendrick...
    Your edit looks terrific and I truly appreciate that you have taken the time to show another way that masks can be used. I expect that it will be a while before I tackle learning them as I'm still learning Lightroom.

    A BIG thank you to all. I now understand layer masks and why one might wish and/or need to learn how to use them.

  6. #26
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Christina – there are several other common photography issues that can be solved by using the layer techniques that Hendrik and I have written about. You have noticed that they work best if the shots you are blending together are taken with the same settings, especially with the same aperture. Ideally, if you use a tripod, alignment of the layers is a lot easier; that being said, you can get hand-held shots to work quite well too, if you compose and take them with PP in mind.

    If I’m out travelling and want to take a family shot in front of a well-known setting, I will use this technique to remove other people from the image. Often I will take a shot or two with the family and when they get bored with me taking their picture and move on, I will retake the scene and try to get some shots (ideally with no one there), but at least no one standing in places where I want to get rid of superfluous bystanders. I’ll just blend and mask the images together when I get home.

    I will also use the same technique when taking a picture of a well-known building or scene that always has lots of people getting in the shot. If I carefully shoot, taking repeated pictures so that I get shots to with no people in front of various parts of the scene or building (this can mean taking 8 or 10 shots), I can then combine the shots and mask out the people, letting the building or scene show through.

    That is how I got this shot; built up from many overlapping images where I watched where people were (and weren’t) and ended up with a tourist free shot.

    Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Once you get this figured out, you will find it a wonderful addition to your photographic “bag of tricks”.

  7. #27
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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Hi Manfred. Yes, the first thing I noticed when trying the head swap was how the different lighting and positioning made it exceeding difficult to do well. Yes, I can see that the use of a tripod would allow exact positioning.

    Very interesting... I likely have a few hundred photos of touristic sites full of extra people somewhere. I suspect using layers would likely come in handy for landscapes, too.

    Thank you for sharing. It is a good thing for me to know for future - after I learn Lightroom thoroughly, although I suspect that it is complex and not as easy to do as you make it seem.

    That's a beautiful image. Thank you for introducing me to layers.

  8. #28
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Lightroom is not going to help much Christina - it does not do layers. Elements does, as does Photoshop.

    Lightroom is fine for minor retouching, but was not designed to do heavy duty compositing work. Elements, it seems does have this functionality.

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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Whenever I do portrait images of one or many subjects, my method is to take multiple images in rapid fire to
    allow for changes in an individual's micro-expressions...then pick and choose what I like.

  10. #30
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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Hi Manfred,

    Yes, I know... Right now I'm focusing on nature photography and all I need to do is learn to enhance my nature photos a little, to show them at their best. I'm just now become comfortable with the basic edits in Lightroom and doing some tutorials. Once I have learned everything I need to know here, I will move forward and tackle learning Elements.

    This came up because a photographic studio advised me that they had extra work in the busy season, not setting up props and lighting etc as I expected, but retouching photos, so I had to advise that my skill set was not there. But it made me realize how important it is to learn every aspect of photography, and that if one is photographing people how important it is to know how to edit and that you need to know how to use layers. And your demonstration turned on a lightbulb about other uses. Perhaps, one day I might take a series of bird photos in action, and combine them with layers into a creative, fun print... Right now, I have to tackle the basics but I promise I will learn how to use layers.

    Chauncey, Thank you for sharing that... Yes, I can see why one would do that. If someone were taking my portrait I would want it too be perfect too.

  11. #31
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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    I am just learning layers in CS6. I have a question: Is a mask the same thing as a layer, and the purpose of it is to eliminate ("mask") something(s) in a photo?
    Any information will be greatly appreciated.

    Bruce

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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    If you are looking at doing this work for a studio, you should find out what PP tools they are using.

    The portrait ones that I know use a combination of Photoshop (for larger image and more formal shots) and Lightroom for the run-of-the-mill shots (general wedding shots, for example). I know of a of smaller studio that is Photoshop only, but they are specialist and are more into product / catalogue type photography and they do limited portraiture.

  13. #33
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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital View Post
    I am just learning layers in CS6. I have a question: Is a mask the same thing as a layer, and the purpose of it is to eliminate ("mask") something(s) in a photo?
    Any information will be greatly appreciated.

    Bruce
    No Bruce, a mask is not a layer, but requires layers to work. You apply a layer mask to a layer.

    Let's look at a simple two layer image (assuming that both images are the same size, to keep things simple), and assume that you are using the "normal" blending mode and 100% opacity. In this configuration, you should only see the top image in your layer stack.

    Now, with the top layer selected and you click the "add layer mask" icon on the bottom of the layers pallette, there will be a white rectangle beside the top image and a "link" symbol between them on the top layer. If you paint on the layer mask with a black brush, the bottom image will show through the image.

    With the same original setup, if you hold the <Alt> key on Windows / <Option> key on a Mac, instead of a white layer mask, you will see a black one, and the bottom image of the two will show through. If you now use a white brush to paint on the mask, your top layer image will start showing through where you paint.

    In generally, I will use a very soft brush to paint on the mask, with a low opacity, so it will take a number of strokes to completely expose / hide the image of the mask. The rule to remember is that when you apply a mask to a layer "black conceals and white revels". Also make sure that the layer mask is select, not the image, otherwise you will be apply the brush to the image, not the mask, and likely not get the result you are looking for.

    When you get into masks some more, there are two other types of masks, clipping masks (which I use all the time) and vector masks.

  14. #34
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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Thank you Manfred...

    No, I declined the work because I knew I could not do it well. But yes, I can see that Photoshop is a program that should be learned. (and I will do just that)

    I just remembered that I photographed a wedding in Mexico for a Mexican family that asked me to. I volunteered for the learning experience. It was a most memorable and a very chaotic event to say the least. While I did manage to produce some very nice photos I did not edit them. So one day I will edit that set of photos touching up faces, remove litter and overhead wires, and using layers to swap things and surprise them with a set of perfect photos. Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    If you are looking at doing this work for a studio, you should find out what PP tools they are using.

    The portrait ones that I know use a combination of Photoshop (for larger image and more formal shots) and Lightroom for the run-of-the-mill shots (general wedding shots, for example). I know of a of smaller studio that is Photoshop only, but they are specialist and are more into product / catalogue type photography and they do limited portraiture.

  15. #35

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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Manfred did it the correct way whereas I have yet to really get the hang of layer masks and simply do a rough selection around the person/item I want [ in this case first the woman's and then the man's head ] I do each one separately and copy [Ctrl-C ] the area outlined with 'marching ants'. My editor then pastes the copy as a new layer [ Ctrl -L ]. It always ends up in the middle of the photo so something is hard to find if it is a small area such as a person's eye etc. You then click on the image and drag it to where you want it. In working with layers you need to watch which layer is highlighted or however PSE tells you which layer is 'active' and then erase the unwanted material around the selection.... in this case I did an extra copy of sea and sky from left of photo to cover the hand with beercan.

    If I had spent more time on it I would have been tidier but at screen size and not pixel peeping it is not too bad. From others comments I guess this is not what the firm would want you to do ... BUT Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one
    How easy or how difficult it is very much depends on the match between donor and recipient, as with any transplant What works really is your judgement in overcoming the various things that 'look wrong' skin tone, eye lines etc etc.

    Edit. The most useful thing I think I can tell you is to work with a low opacity brush so that you have to make several stroke to merge things together ... never work at 100% which gives you hard edges. I think Paint Shop Pro is more helpful in this than Photoshop or PSE from my memory when I played with them awhile back.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 26th July 2013 at 10:56 AM.

  16. #36
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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Hi Photo Nut,

    Thank you for sharing and teaching me something new. Truly appreciated. Fun photo which I'm sure this group of people would appreciate

    Yes, I followed Manfred's advice on the brush, although I didn't know the reasoning behind it. Good to know.

  17. #37

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    Re: Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    If you have got your brain around 'adjustment layers' the point of using a layer mask is that it is a form of AL in that you use black to remove the uinwanted and if you stray into the 'wanted' you paint with white and it comes back and you can then try again with the bl;ack brush.. My 'Not 100%' may not be appropriate when using a layer mask but stems from general editing in endeavouring to match things together. As I said I am not with them yet

    Another point about adjustment layers is that while you have black and white as colours you also have 254 shades of varying density between ... so while you can impose a given adjustment with black for the area needing the most adjustment you can by painting with an intermediate tone adjust other areas to a lesser degree ... a wrinkle on this is that if you select an area with the marching ants you can then 'flood fill' with different tones of blackness until it looks 'right'. It is not cumulative but changes according to the density of the 'fill tone'

    A final wrinkle which can confuse, and had me the first time I tried a layer mask*, is that depending on how the programme is set up while I delete with black it can be if the programme is set up the other way that you delete with white and add with black ... something you have to find out by experimenting with your programme. PSP has the option of working either way and I wasn't sure for awhile which was appropriate for my need .... *removing blurred upper layer where I wanted a sharp image from the bottom[ background] layer.
    Head Swaps 101 - Asking someone who is good at editing to do one

    Edit .. relevant to what I was doing here is that I think the layer mask and the blurred layer were in a 'group' above the background layer so what I did with the mask only affected the blurred layer ... it can get dreadfully complicated ... working with multiple layers but does open exciting possibilities

    edit 2 ... and tired eyes late at night can let things through
    Last edited by jcuknz; 30th July 2013 at 11:08 PM.

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