How To… Punch Yourself In The Face

fpcoverThis blog is ostensibly an excuse to regurgitate large numbers of photos online, feeding my ego without worrying too much about looking like I’m doing so. I love rambling about my (mis-)adventures and I love photography, so a travel/photo blog seemed like the healthiest outlet.

In addition to Taking Photos Of Stuff I See as a general pastime, I’ve also got a kink for Photoshop’s surrealist potential. I’ve had one or two (possible even three) people politely mentioning a few of my past PS projects, and figure that, in amongst the Korean stuff, it couldn’t hurt to throw in a few Photoshop tutorials for posterity’s sake.

One of my more well-received older pictures depicted, appropriately, me punching myself really hard in the face. It’s the closest thing to minor Flickr fame I’ve managed and I still harp on about it to anyone who’ll listen.


(click picture for link to Flickr)

Sadly, I can’t find the original files for this particular picture, so I’ll use a pretty similar one I did a little while back. If you give this a go and I’ve missed something glaringly obvious in the How To, write me a comment berating me for my uselessness and I’ll rectify that immediately.

Please keep in mind that Photoshop is an actual beast of a program, and no two people use it the same way. I’ve fiddled with it for years in varying states of destitution and girlfriendlessness, and this is how I muddle along. If you use PS a different way/actually know what you’re doing, feel free to use the following stages as a very basic reference – and, if you make one of your own, I REALLY want to see it so you’d better send me the link.


1 – This is a very simple PS project, in that you’ll need a grand total of 2 photos and maybe 3 PS layers for the finished image. Your two photos are:IMG_6985

ONE shot of your handsome mug, andIMG_6991

ONE shot of you punching the snot out of a pillow. Ideally try to use one which could roughly match your skin tone (I’m like a vampire so ‘glaring white’ is a safe bet) – it doesn’t have to be exact, but try to choose a colour which you can at least lighten/darken to match your complexion.


2 – Open up your photos on PS. Hello, me(s).facepunch1

3 – On the pillow-punching shot, use the selecting-tool of your choice to select the punching hand and most of the pillow, then paste onto your first image. That’s all you need from Image 2, so you can now get rid of it.facepunch2

4 – Select your fightin’ hand with Ctrl-T, and shuffle it about until you get it in the right spot for your image. If you can’t get it exactly right, use the Opacity and/or Fill sliders on the Layers tab to fade the layer and fit it with the picture underneath.

5 – As you’ll be blending the pillow with your own gob, use the eraser tool with a large brush and 0 hardness to lightly ‘feather’ the edges of the pillow, so you can see the edges of the face underneath showing. Make sure A) you don’t feather the punching arm as you’ll look like you’re getting punched by a ghost, and B) that you don’t reveal any actual facial features underneath while erasing. facepunch3

6 – Increase the eraser tool’s hardness a tad and trim the edges of your Pillow Layer so it fits your face like a mask. If needed, boost the eraser’s hardness yet further and remove any floating bits around your punchin’ hand. If needed, again check the hand’s placement on the face using the Opacity slider to make sure you’re getting a nice, centralised thump on the nose.facepunch4


7 – Here, you’re going to want to make a duplicate layer of JUST the arm/hand. Roughly select the arm with the Lasso tool, then tap Ctrl-J to copy the layer. Erase the squiffy bits so you just have the arm without any pillow background. This layer ensures your arm keeps its natural tone, as the next stage will be fiddling with the colour of your pillow:-facepunch6

8 – Now to make it look a little more human. Select the middle (ie. pillow) layer then, via the Image tab, select Adjustments – Photo Filter. Have a play with the different tones; depending on the white balance of your photos, you’ll likely want to use a warming/sepia filter to make the pillow more skin-toned. Repeat the process a few times with different tones to layer colours – by choosing ‘colour’ on the Photo Filter window you can also colour-drop your own skin tone, though you can mix and match colour if it’s not blending quite right.facepunch7


9 – Last of all, using the Burn (darken) and Dodge (lighten) tools, have a play with darkening certain areas (eg. shadow around the fist, pillow wrinkles) and lightening others (depending on your portrait lighting) to make it look more ‘natural’ despite the fact that you’re smashing your face right in.facepunch9

10 – depending on how hardworking you’re feeling, either leave the image as it is or have a fiddle with lighting/contrast to make the overall shot stand out; I can’t really advise here as everybody has different ideals for brightness and colour in their photography.facepunchtutorial

Et voila! You should now have a portrait of self-abuse to worry your loved ones and impress easily-impressed people with.