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How to Superimpose a Face Onto Another with GIMP

Updated on October 22, 2016


GIMP - custom logo
GIMP - custom logo

I am going to show you how to superimpose one face on top of another. It really helps - if possible - to choose two images that are relatively the same as far as dimensions (or even in texture and style, in other words, the same skin type and hair style). But if not, not a problem. We can work around it.

The two images I will be using to demonstrate in this tutorial are:

Model image
Model image
Yours truly
Yours truly

Open up the image in which you want to superimpose the face with GIMP and then open your second image (so that you end up with two image preview windows opened in GIMP). For the sake of simplicity, let's refer to the latter image as the "model image" and the image who's face you wish to superimpose as the "superimpose image".

First thing we want to do is: transform both our images (if they are not already) into the .jpg image file format. So, go ahead and save each one as a JPEG and then re-open them.

Upon having successfully transformed and re-opened your images, select the Paths Tool from GIMP's Toolbox and then go to the model image and select a path around the entire face. Once you have connected the last anchors, be sure to click Selection from Path in the Toolbox. Afterwards, right click and select Layer > Transparency > Add Alpha Channel. And then go to Select > Invert and then Edit > Cut.

Model image successfully cut
Model image successfully cut

Go to the model image's menu and select Edit > Copy and then in the superimpose image's menu choose Edit > Paste.

Note: At this point, if you experience any problems with pasting model image – such as; image appears invisible after having pasted it – go ahead and save model image and re-open. Then try pasting again.

Move model image so it sits alongside the superimpose image. This way, we get a side by side comparison and we can see what we need to do as far as exacting dimensions, style and texture. In the case of my two images, as you can see, they are relatively the same. Except the hair in the model image is a different style. It is longer with colored streaks and brushed to the front of the face.

side by side comparison of model & superimpose images
side by side comparison of model & superimpose images

Not a problem. We can work with that. For now, let's move the model image onto the superimpose image. However, as in my case, I need to do something with the angle. One face is angled to the right and the other to the left. To fix this, I selected the Rotate Tool and set it straight.

Rotate Tool selected
Rotate Tool selected

Then, I grabbed the Move Tool and positioned the model image on top of the superimpose image like so:

Model image in position
Model image in position

Now, to fix the issue with the hair:

  • Create a new layer.
  • Zoom in your image (if needed).
  • Select the Paths Tool and create a selection around the model image's hairline.
  • Fill selection with the same color as the hair in the superimpose image.

So, I ended up with the following:

Selection filled
Selection filled

Wow! Kind of scary with the similarities. But I swear, we're not related.

But I took mine one step further. I created another layer. Then, I created another path. This time, I placed my anchors around the entire hairline.

Second selection
Second selection

Next, I painted some red streaks across my hair.

Red streaks added
Red streaks added

I selected Filters > Noise > Spread and used the settings- Horizontal: 60, Vertical: 60.

Spread added
Spread added

And then I went back to Filters > Blur > Motion Blur and rendered these settings- Blur Type: Linear, Length: 20, Angle: 90.

Final image
Final image

I found that, another good use for this tutorial would be creating avatars. So that might be something to think about during your next project.

Comments are welcomed (be nice now!)

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    • Danielspages2013 profile imageAUTHOR

      Daniel Baker 

      4 years ago from João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil

      Sure thing. I use GIMP version 2.8.6.

    • GypsyOwl profile image

      Deb Bryan 

      4 years ago from Chico California

      Hello, Daniel. Thank you for this amazing GIMP tutorial. I've been using GIMP beginning in 2005. I have created many tutorials (as I learn and figure things out). I have not been able to figure out several of the tasks you explain here.

      I enjoyed your instructions and following along with your screenshots.

      One question.

      I might have missed it, but, I was wondering what version of GIMP are you using in these instructions?

      Thanks again!



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