Deke’s Techniques: Inverting facial features in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

When I first watched this week’s free Deke’s Techniques video, I was mesmerized by the way Deke inverted a portrait but left the eyes and mouth in the right-side up position. ‘Mesmerized’ might be a euphemism, because, really, I was sort of spellbound by the fact that I couldn’t immediately imagine why anyone would want to perpetrate this bizarre effect. Check it out for yourself in the free video tutorial below, then read on.

Arguably, at first, the inverted portrait on the right looks almost normal, even though we know in our human hearts (and eyes, and optical information processing centers) that something is wrong:

Photoshop effect: Inverting facial features in Photoshop.

But when you flip the entire composition, you realize just how wrong the altered face (now on the left, in case it’s not disturbingly obvious) actually is:

Photoshop effect: Inverting facial features in Photoshop image 2.

The truth is, that this is a great demonstration of how our eyes and expectations force us into reconciling a confusingly hard to pin down, altered portrait. More importantly, in the process of flipping the model while restoring the eyes and mouth to their original orientation, you can learn a great deal about creating impeccable Photoshop compositions, including how to tackle duplicated transformations, careful masking, and selective healing. You can also, should you choose, learn to create a flipped portrait that is truly unsettling.

In the end we have a portrait that’s more disturbing than it initially seems, and a technique that’s more grounded in solid Photoshop practices than one might initially suspect—ultimately, it’s a party trick that teaches solid Photoshop machinations.

Deke will be back next week with a more standard portrait retouching technique that will reorient your mind (and skin) back into place.


Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on
• Courses by Deke McClelland on
• All Photoshop courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Fundamentals
 Photoshop CS6 Essential Training

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