Photoshop is comprehensive in its editing capabilities, but the freeware GIMP can be just as useful. So handy, in fact, that you can merge two people into one and make a brand new creation with nothing but some basic editing skills.
We’re going to look at what it takes to prepare two images for this type of merge. In brief, we’ll align two layers appropriately, remove the background of the top layer, position it atop the bottom one, and then thin the lines between the two to finish up.
How to Swap or Combine Faces Using GIMP
If you don’t have it already, download GIMP here.
Note that this tutorial is done with the “Single-Window Mode,” which you can find in the “Windows” menu.
The first task is to load both the images. Do this from “File > Open as Layers.” Select both the image files, where they’ll then be loaded into GIMP. Adjust which image is on top of the other from the layers dialog box on the right. Drag the layer to the top of the panel that should be used as the topmost image.
Now right-click the top layer and click “Add Alpha Channel.” This will enable a transparent background in later steps, which is needed for layering the two faces.
With the top layer selected, choose the “Fuzzy Select Tool” from the left side of the program. Click and drag this tool in a downward motion over the background of the image. In this example, it would be the blue color behind Eric Schmidt.
If need be, choose the “Free Select Tool” to create a finer selection. This is likely required if the background isn’t as solid of a color like we have here.
Click the “Delete” key on the keyboard to remove the background. As is seen below, the blue background is still present around the hair. This is fine for our task because we’ll be removing his hair anyway.
The top image may present a slightly different perspective that doesn’t match the bottom layer. To create a closer resemblance, we’ll flip the image along the horizontal axis.
Do this from the “Layer > Transform” menu.
Now that the image is facing the same way as the bottom one, we must adjust the form even more so when we begin removing features of the top layer, the facial features of the bottom image can line up accurately.
Scale an image from the “Tools > Transform Tools” menu.
Before you scale the image for a closer match of the bottom layer, constrain the proportions with the small chain link icon, like is pointed out here:
When the proportions are constrained, the image doesn’t get transformed in a strange way, but can rather grow and shrink accordingly. Drag the entire grid form (like you see above) up or down to grow or shrink the overall size of the picture.
Toggle the chain icon back off drag the image to the left and right to make it better fit the background head.
The next thing we have to do is make the top layer transparent, using the “Opacity” level on the right, above the layers. Move the slider to the left to make the top layer easier to see through.
This is needed for the next step.
With the “Eraser” tool, begin painting over the edges of the image so just the face (and glasses, in this example) remain.
Continue erasing the edges, changing the opacity of the eraser itself (using the eraser options to the left of the screen) to make a blending effect.
Sometimes the image just isn’t the correct brightness to match the skin tone of the face behind it. Change the brightness of the foreground image to make a cleaner match.
Change this from the “Colors > Brightness – Contrast” menu item.
Here is the end result of combining Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt into one image.
Yes, the forehead does look a bit big, but it can be adjusted better if you take more time in adjusting image sizes.
Here they are together for comparison:
Here’s another example, but this time we swapped the entire head instead of just the face. This one involves Steve Jobs and Bill Gates:
Here they are compared with one another:
There is plenty of wiggle room when it comes to editing images. Especially for entertainment purposes like we’ve looked at above, you can swap out individual features or entire sections like we did with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
Try one for yourself and post a link to it in the comments.