How to do a face swap.

Fix family photos, replace faces, or create funny, shareable imagery for social media with face swap techniques. Read our guide to learn more about face swapping and how to edit human faces quickly and easily across different devices.

Man and woman ho;ding amazed faces

What you'll learn:

What is face swapping?

A face swap is a digital process in which a person’s face in a photograph is swapped for that of someone or something else. Face swaps are common in internet memes and across social media. However, some professional photographers use face swapping techniques to replace the face in one photo with one from another for aesthetic reasons – for example, when a model has their eyes closed in an otherwise-perfect shot. 

Deepfake concept matching facial movements with a different face of another person face swapping or impersonation

Why face swap?

Sometimes a photo is perfect except for one person’s expression. They might be blinking or making a funny face, ruining an otherwise-amazing shot. But if you have another photo of them, you can swap that part of the image out – producing a better overall result. A face swap is a great way to fix a family photo – this is the kind of edit photographers make all the time. 

 

Swapping faces in a photo allows you to play with the mood of a photo. A simple face swap could turn a sad-looking photo into a happy one. By swapping in new facial expressions, you can make a photo funnier and more shareable on social media.

 

You might want to swap out the faces of your family and friends for those of celebrities or even animals. You could create new photos altogether to be used as social media-ready reaction content or to help drive engagement across your channels. 

Face swapping using an iPhone or Android phone.

You can use a variety of apps to complete simple, good-looking face swaps on iPhone or Android phones. There are also several free or paid face swap apps available for digital download. To face swap on a mobile device, usually you’ll follow these steps: 

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Take several photos of your face or the face you’re swapping.

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Load the two photos you’re swapping in your chosen face swap editor.

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Follow the on-screen instructions to swap faces between your photos 

Face swapping on Photoshop using a Mac or PC.

Swapping faces is easy with the Photoshop app for desktop. If you have photos of a similar size and composition, it’s easy to layer them on top of each other in Photoshop for a basic face swap. Find out how to swap faces on Mac and desktop PC by following these instructions:

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Set the face you want to swap in as a bottom layer and the picture with the face to be replaced as the top layer.

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Line up the faces in the two pictures. Use the Auto-Align feature and make sure that two faces roughly align.

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Add a white mask layer onto the top. Set the Opacity to 100%.

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Select the Brush tool. Set the opacity to 100%. A softer brush style tends to work well for this kind of work.

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Using the black brush, paint over the face you want to swap out on the mask layer. As you paint over the mask layer, the face beneath it will show through.

Face swapping with Object Selection.

Photoshop’s Object Selection tool lets you isolate different parts of a photo and move them around. You can use it to grab a single feature, such as an eye, a nose, or an entire face or head. Using the Object Selection tool you can cut out the face you want to swap into an image. When you do, save it as its own layer.

Face of person standing in front of a wall being selected with Adobe Photoshop

It’s a good idea to work with a face that’s larger than the face you’re trying to swap out. It’s easier to fit a large face over a small one. Also, with a larger, higher-resolution face you won’t have to deal with distortions from pixelation as a result of resizing.

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Drag the face you’re swapping onto the face you’re replacing and gradually resize and line up the features. 

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Turn down the opacity in the face layer so you can see the original features underneath the face you’re using. 

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Match the eyes, nose, and mouth – and gradually move the new face over the original. 

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Once you have it placed to your liking, adjust the opacity back to 100%. 

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The new face should be placed as naturally as possible over the old one.

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Blending and colour-correcting a face swap.

The lighting and skin tones of people’s faces can vary wildly and sometimes one person’s look can change across different photos. You’ll almost certainly have to correct for subtle differences between the two photos if you want your face swap to look convincing.

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Match the multiple skin tones with the Match Colour feature (Image › Adjustments › Match Colour) using whichever image you want to match colours from. 

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Gradually adjust colours to match the skin tones together. 

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Use the Blur tool to match the amount of blur on the head and face.

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Use Auto-Blend Layers with Seamless Tones and Colours selected to merge the face and body layer together.

Image of two people posing with Adobe Photoshop adjustment menu hovering over
Image of two people posing with Adobe Photoshop Match Color options hovering next to them

Depending on your inclination, you can make the face swap subtle and natural-looking or over the top. Regardless of the type of edit you’d like to make, Photoshop provides the tools and flexibility to combine images in whatever way you need. 

How to face swap on After Effects.

After Effects is another post-production tool that lets you edit images. You can replace faces using the software on desktop by following these steps. 

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Upload your chosen photo into the After Effects image editor.

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Select the Ellipse tool and highlight the face you wish to edit.

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Set the Mask mode to None and then track the mask around your facial area.

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Select Face Tracking > Detailed Features.

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Upload the image of the face you want to swap in and find a point in your video where you’ll insert your face.

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Line up your cut out face with that of your new model.

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Add tracking points to the edge of the face. You can remove these when you’re finished.

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Select Holder Layer > Rig. The face swap should match up. You might need to blend the edges a little and play around with your newly created image to make it appear more realistic. 

How do you do a TikTok face swap?

Face swaps are hugely popular on social media sites like TikTok. TikTok doesn’t have an ability to edit photos in the app, so you’ll have to fix your face swaps before you upload them into TikTok. You can use Photoshop, After Effects or your chosen face swap app to replace your faces. Once you’re happy with your photo or video, upload it to TikTok, and post. 

How to face swap on Snapchat.

It used to be possible to face swap by default on the popular app Snapchat. Until recent updates removed this capability, a face swap function was built into the app as a default filter. You can still access the former feature by using an outdated version of the app itself. 

 

To do so, follow the instructions below. (However, process may also reset some the features of your other apps.)

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Have Snapchat already installed on your phone.

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Go to Settings.

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Select Date and Time. Set this to Choose Automatically.

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Select a date and time before and including February 2016. Warning: This may affect the performance of other apps on your device.

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You should now be able to access the face swap filter in your older iteration of Snapchat.

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