How to put a face on a cartoon character

Okay, so last time I did this, I didn't think of a tutorial until after I was done, so there were no screen caps. Today, whilst reading BlogCatalog, I decided that good sport Ekim needed to embrace the cartoon within: Ron Stoppable. (Actually, I wanted to do Snagglepuss, but I couldn't find a really good image to use.)

So, first task: a copy of the victim's face and a copy of the cartoon you want to use. Put the cartoon layer on the bottom and the victim's face on the top layer.

Now, take the magnetic lasso tool and cut away everything that's not the face. Don't go for perfection here - you're looking for a rough cut. We'll clean that up with the eraser next. I'm starting out with a size 19 eraser at full opacity and flow to finish up the rough. Don't get super-close yet. When that's done, I'm selecting a 13 px soft round eraser. This will help the edges not look terribly harsh. Of course, since we're going to blend this face in with a cartoon character that has the face outlined in black, I'm being a little too perfectionist about it. I'm also going to bump the View size up to 1000% to make it a bit easier. Again, I'm probably being a little too careful, but if I use good habits with the little things, they carry over. :)

Don't forget to save often!

Now we're gonna size the face down over Ron's. The first thing to do is to change the opacity of Ekim's face so we can easier see what we're doing. Next, switch to the movement tool and hover over one of the corner's of the face. When you see it turn into a curved arrows, click your mouse and begin rotating the face until it matches the tilt of the cartoon. Then go to one of the squares at the top or the bottom and begin changing the height of the face. Go to a square at either side and again morph the size of the face until it fits. It's okay if it looks a little distorted - it's a cartoon, remember?

Up the opacity back to 100% and check the fit. When it's how you like it, we're going to final stage of fitting.

Now, we're going to hide the face and focus on the cartoon for a bit.

I used the magnetic lasso again and selected the area of Ron's face. Now I'm going to go up to the Select menu and select the inverse. When I've done this, I made the human face visible again and make sure that this layer is selected in the layers menu and hit Delete to get ride of the excess face that we don't need.

In this particular case, I hit Edit>Cut instead of Delete because Ron, of course, has that funky ear that sticks out waaaaay further than any real human ear. So I needed to be able to use Ekim's ear. I'm going to go through the same process I went through with the head to get the ear to fit into this spot as well. I also want to change the Curves of the picture to lighten Ekim up a bit. He's kinda dark (and grim, too).

New Adjustment Layer > Color Adjustment - use previous layer as mask. Colorize.

At this point, I decided I hated the whole darn thing. For this particular style of putting someone's face on a cartoon, the trick is to pick a skin tone that is NOT close to the real person's skin tone. Ron Stoppable and Ekim simply look to much alike for this to work well. I had to switch gears. After all the success with Crpitt and Smurfette, and knowing that Ekim does work as a carpenter, I went looking for a good pic of Handy Smurf. Sadly, Los Interwebz (tm) let me down. The only images were really too tiny to work with and I didn't feel like taking the time to draw Handy Smurf, scan him and then add Ekim's face. (Maybe another day.)

I finally settled on Diego and quickly followed all the previous steps to get us back to the point where I decided I hated the Ron picture. Here we are:

As you can tell, Diego's face is really round and Ekim's face is not. How to fix this? This is a cartoon, so we don't need perfection - we're going to use several tools to "stretch out" Ekim's face. We don't want to just keep re-sizing the face image, because in the only pic I had of Ekim, the eye to our left is at the edge of what we can see of his face. We don't want that eye quite that close to the edge on Diego's face.

First, I'm going to take the clone tool and clone the edges of his face. It will look like kaka - we're not nearly done. This is a tricky decision - there's several ways to do this, but because the light on Ekim's face is so bright on that side and the rest of his face is more shadowed, I don't want to clone from another area or use the patch tool. There's just not enough exposed skin right there to make those choices very viable. So, with the View percentage back up to 1000%, I'm just cloning away to the edges of Diego's face.

Now Ekim has some kind of gross disease. Cool, huh? Now we're gonna use the healing brush. I'm kidding, I'm kidding! The healing brush simply doesn't have enough room to work with any more than the patch tool did. There's just not enough area to sample. Instead, we're going to start with the Smudge tool and the area around that eye.

Why use the Clone tool first? Most people probably wouldn't. I chose to use it so that I could soften the color a bit when I needed to, to blend the very light skin tone with the more orange-y-brown colour as necessary. I'm using the Smudge tool at anywhere from 70% strength down to about 25%, depending on the area. When I'm blending in the lighter colour, I'm using a lower strength. Do be careful around the edges of the face - don't bother around the edges of the cartoon's outline.

Now, of course, the problem is that this side of the face is smooth the other half is realistic and wrinkly. How to fix it? There's not a perfect way, not with this much real estate to cover. But now is the time to bring out the Healing Tool. All we want to do is mottle the skin a little bit so it looks a little more realistic. I'm going to select the highlight area of his cheek and then carefully use the healing brush in the smooth area.

You can see that the area around the forehead and the eye blended very nicely. The rest of the face is okay, but not great. This is largely because the angle of Ekim's face in the original photo just isn't close enough to Diego's. We're just not going to see perfection like we did with Claire and Smurfette.

Now, I'm going to go through the edges of the hair where the bright pixels are and use the smudge tool again. I'll do the same thing in the ear area, switching to the pencil tool and colour match individual pixels around the brighter spots where I erased too much of the original Ekim pic.

Next, I used a combination of the pencil tool, blur, smudge and then the healing tool to add the bag under that far eye. It's not something I can easily demonstrate, as it is simply bumping the View resolution up, working in detail, trying a tool, bumping the View back to 100% to see how it's looking. Definitely a trial and error type process here. However, adding that bit of detail has gone a long way toward making the rest of the face extension a bit more believable.

I also extended the facial hair out just a little bit to help blend the face sections a bit more. The last step is to get rid of the highlighting that was on the chin and blend it into the face extension.

And there we are. Diego as your children have never seen him!