Kids in Space

Step-by-step instructions on how to add a kid's face to a space scene

By Charlie Kerekes, 2/21/2006

When I was a kid, one of my dreams was to become an astronaut. There was no Space Camp for kids at that time; my parents encouraged me by guiding my studies towards topics important to space travel.

Learn how to add a kid's face to this spacesuit photo, hovering above Earth.

Learn how to add a kid's face to this spacesuit photo. Notice the Space Shuttle's reflection on the face glass.

With digital photography, you have another way to encourage your kidsóby putting them into space photos.

In this article I show you how to create this fun photo fakery, by placing a kid's face into a NASA spacesuit floating above Earth. Once mastered, this technique can be used to place photos under any type of glass: behind sports car windshields, in airplane cockpits, inside glass buildings, etc.

I provide step-by-step instructions for creating this project with Adobe Photoshop Elements .

This article uses the "layers" and "selection" features in Photoshop Elements. Step-by-step instructions are provided for layers; however, it assumes that you know how to select objects in photos. If these concepts are unfamiliar, you may wish to start by reading Editing Photos with Layers and Selecting Objects with the Magic Wand .

Selecting the Photos

Astronaut floating in space above Earth

We need two photos to create the space scene fakery. First, we need the space photo into which we insert the kid. Second, we need a photo of the kid's face.

Follow along with this tutorial by first downloading the astronaut high resolution image. Save the image to your hard disk in a place where you can find it, and then return to this page.

Then, select one of your own photos that you wish to place in the spacesuit. This can be an image from a digital camera or a scanned photo.

General Steps

Before diving into the specifics, let's review what we are trying to accomplish. Our goal, of course, is to insert a kid's face into the spacesuit image. The final image should be as realistic as possible.

One way to add realism is to retain the reflections from the glass covering the face. This requires that we separate the glass into a layer of its own, so that we may place it over the kid's face. Separating the glass from the background (in this case a barely visible NASA astronaut's face) is not a trivial task. Instead, we will simulate this by creating a nearly transparent layer.

In the end, the photo composition will have these layers:

Creating the Template File

Now that you have downloaded the space photo and selected another photo to insert, let us create the template file. This file will contain all layers, except for the kid's face.

Tip: Skip the steps in this section by taking advantage of our free template offer at the bottom of this page.

All steps apply to Photoshop Elements 2.0 - 4.0:

  1. Start Photoshop Elements.
  2. Open the original astronaut file you downloaded.
    Commands:
  3. Save a copy of this image as a Photoshop (PSD) file.
  4. Crop the photo to the dimensions of the print. In this article I will use 4x6" photo paper.

    Commands:
  5. The Layers palette, after the original image has been duplicated twice.

    The Layers palette, after the original image has been duplicated twice.

  6. Duplicate the photo into a new layer. This will be our mask layer into which we will cut a hole for the face to show through.
    Commands:
  7. Duplicate the photo once more and name it glass .
  8. If necessary, move the glass layer to the top.
    Command: In the Layers palette drag the glass layer with your mouse above the mask layer
  9. Hide all layers, except the mask layer.
    Command: In the Layers palette, click the small eye to the left of the layer to be hidden
  10. Zoom in so that the astronaut's face fills the screen. This will make the job of selecting easier.
  11. Create a hole in the mask layer, through which your own photo will show. A transparent hole was created in place of the astronaut's face mask.

    A transparent hole was created in place of the astronaut's face mask. Notice that several strong glare areas have been left around the perimeter.
    Commands:


  12. Reduce the opacity of the glass layer so that your photo will show through.
    Commands:
  13. Make the Background layer visible .
    Command: In the Layers palette click the location where the small eye should be
  14. Save your work.

Inserting the Face

The only thing left to do is insert a kid's face into the template.

This is the original photo of the kid's face used in the examples.

This is the original photo of the kid's face used in the examples.

  1. If you have created the template file in the previous section, make sure it is still open in Photoshop Elements.
  2. If you have downloaded one of our templates, open it now.
  3. Open one of your own digital photos containing a kid's face you wish to insert.
  4. Copy the face into a new layer of the template file.
    Commands:
  5. Close the photo with the kid's face without saving it.

    This action closes the photo and makes the template file visible.
  6. Image of the face has been inserted and moved under the glass layer.

    Image of the face has been inserted and moved under the glass layer.

  7. Move the face layer under the glass layer.

    The face layer will eventually have to be under the mask layer, but it is easier to position and size above the mask.
  8. Size and position the face image to fit the opening in the mask layer. Face image has been sized to fit the mask opening.

    Face image has been sized to fit the mask opening.
    Commands:

  9. Move the face layer under the mask layer.
    Command: In the Layers palette drag the face layer with your mouse under the mask layer
  10. Make sure that all layers are visible , including the background.
    Command: In the Layers palette click the location where the small eye should be
  11. Opacity of the glass layer has been set to give a realistic glare on the face mask.

    Opacity of the glass layer has been set to give a realistic glare on the face mask.

  12. If necessary, adjust the opacity of the glass layer so that the kid's face and the Space Shuttle's reflection are visible.
    Commands:
  13. Save your work.
  14. If you have a printer, print the finished image.
Astronaut 1 in spacesuit above Earth

Astronaut 1

Astronaut 2 in spacesuit above Earth

Astronaut 2

Astronaut 3 in spacesuit, waving

Astronaut 3

Nose of Space Shuttle in space

Space Shuttle