Deke’s Techniques 072: Creating an Upside-Down Face Effect

Today's episode of my weekly thing is a bit out of the ordinary. In it, I show you how to create an optical effect in which a person's face at first appears to be normal, but when flipped around does not. When I showed this technique to a few folks at my beloved video publisher, the reviews were mixed. Some said: "That is weird." Others: "How is this a Photoshop technique?" And still more: "When exactly did you start pounding the hard drugs? Please let us know when we should intervene."

Which is why I'm so excited to see what you think. Here's the official description from

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 rightside-up position. "Mesmerized" might be a euphemism because I was really sort of spellbound by the fact that I couldn't immediately imagine why anyone would want to perpetrate this bizarre effect.

The portrait below looks fine. And arguably, at first glance, the one on the right looks almost normal, even though we know in our human hearts and eyes (not to mention our neural information-processing centers) that something is wrong:

Two faces in Photoshop, seemingly normal

But when you flip the entire composition, you realize just how wrong the altered face (now on the left, in case you couldn't tell) actually is:

After flipping the faces in Photoshop, something is obviously wrong

The truth is, 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, and then ensuring that the eyes and mouth are actually still in the original orientation, you learn a good deal about creating an impeccable Photoshop composition: duplicating transformed layers, careful masking, and selective healing. You can also, should you choose, learn to create a flipped portrait that is truly disturbing. Ultimately, it's a party trick that teaches a few solid Photoshop machinations.

So 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 suspect. And Deke will be back next week with a more standard portrait retouching technique that will reorient your mind back into place.

No exclusive movie for members of this week. Just couldn't think how to top this one. Next week, something more practical.

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Reninds me of the flash face effect

I just saw this video on YouTube where they simultaneously flash two celebrity photos side by side while you stare at a point in the middle of the two pictures. Suddenly your brain turns both pics into hideous alien freaks reminiscent of the old Twilight Zone episode "The Eye of the Beholder."

You can see for yourself here:

I wonder how it would work if they flashed two ugly people pictures?