Tracy's Creative Image Tutorials
Morphed images (Image morphs are middle transitions between two different images) ree Learning center
Creating a Morph from Still Images
(Morphs are the middle distortion and fade images)
The word "Morph" is from the Greek word morphe meaning shape or form. The word metamorphosis means a change in shape or form. Morphing images is done by registering points on at least two images. The computer creates the middle transitions between image appearances. Morphing distorts one image while fading it into another. It does this through registration or what's called control points on the first and second images.
Half lion and half female this morphed image was created with Popims Animator.
As an example, one can morph a face into an animal's face by marking key points on the first face, such as the contour of the nose or location of the eyes. Then mark where these same points existed on the second face. The computer then distorts and fades the first face to have the shape and attributes of the second face. Usually this makes an entire animation sequence of images. Using the middle transition image one can see what a blend of the two pictures would look like. In this tutorial we are after only the still image in the middle.
Control points are laid down to tell the computer what parts you want transitioned
So how do I morph two images together? Free software is available below for creating your morph. For starters you'll want two images with at least similar look angles or features in common. I've seen some horrible morphed images and animations. I saw one of a boy being morphed into a cake. Since neither had any similar features it looked more like a color smear of one picture into another. The idea to remember is that you are putting down the control points so if one image has someone waving their hand and the next image has nothing even similar where do those parts of the picture with the hand go? It's best when the eyes transition to eyes and the nose transitions to another nose shape and so forth. It's better still when those parts transitioning aren't on separate sides of the image. You could morph an airplane into a bird easily just because they do have similar features like wings.
An interesting thing about morphs is the emotional effect it has on people. What you change the images into has a symbolic feel to it. So if you alter your boss into a donkey you can be sure some symbolism will be interpreted and how you may feel about him implied. This happens even if you had no intention of doing so. Artists may go after a cool appearance or maybe just the best image that fit the viewing angle. However, it is the final symbolism that people will read into it that overtakes the perception of the pictures. Keep this in mind when choosing your images.
Point Location Importance :
It's easy to lose track of control points once you start dropping them. You may be going along laying down points and drop or move a few points to the wrong areas. Even with colored points it's easy to lose track of which ones are going where. This becomes a problem. Fundamentally the computer takes your dropped points and moves the colors and parts of the picture toward where your next control points are on the next image. What happens when the points you have dropped are crossed? Suppose a eyeball outline point was put on a eyebrow or somewhere else? Generally this will mangle your image and make you wonder why it looks that way. In some morphing software packages they show errors like highlighted triangles to point out where problems exist. Turn on the triangle or "Mesh" view so you can see any points that overlap or cross.
The more points dropped the better the transitioning images look. Rather than make the computer guess what in-between parts look like it can follow direction as to where points are supposed to go. Also take time to zoom in and do quality checks before you are ready to finalize. What you may find is that some of the points in the right area should be closer to the lines and features you wanted them to move. When you finally test your transition take a look for sudden mangling or stretching of the image(s) where you didn't expect. This is a sure sign the proper points are missing or in the wrong locations.
The "mesh" view allows views of what areas will move and where.
Once you've perfected basic morphing, go on to photograph your own images with the same background and same subject location on the image. This will no doubt assure an amazing final morph.
It may be more realistic to use two images that are perfect for morphing and simply air-brush out the backgrounds of each. You could use Photoshop or any of your favorite paint programs. In this way you have more control over the final morph and the background doesn't look like a busy blend of two different locations.
Free Morph programs
Try the free software Popims Animator. It is surprisingly easy to create a morphed image. First, boot up PopimsAnimator. This program is geared for Animations and Movies but creates some terrific individual images if you desire. Popims used to be called SmartMorph for those who have seen older versions and some of those were shareware. This version is not a demo or trial. Sweet!
Popims Animator is approximately 3.5MB in size. The above copy has already been scanned for any viruses or problems but you should always scan your system the evening after install of new programs anyhow. Our first couple of steps are setting up the program and our images only.
Its not necessary but I recommend resizing your own images ahead of time. This will simplify your project a great deal. Make both images about 800x600 or 1024x768 in resolution. This is only a suggestion as the tutorial will work without doing this. Also crop off any part of the image that isn't necessary. For instance if you have a head shot of someone in one image and the next image is a full body shot, then crop off the body in the longer shot that will prove extra in the morphing. I'd let Popims handle the fades and morphs as it's not supposed to be a Photoshop project. You'll find getting the best images is the hardest part of morphing.
1) Click on the link provided above and choose RUN when prompted. Accept the next RUN prompt until windows agrees to install it on your machine. A dialogue box for program location will appear with the button at the bottom labeled Install. Just left-click the Install button as default and this will install the program on your machine.
2) There is a really helpful wizard in the Companion window that will guide us through using the main features of the program. To use the wizard left-click the gray HELP button on the top of the Companion window. Then choose Popims Morpher link in the below companion window. . Using the wizard is useful because it will demonstrate how to adjust your image sizes for easiest work flow and gets you familiar with the icon functions.
3) Step#1 in the wizard has you opening up two images or just your first one by left-clicking the link Open 1 or 2 images. If you open one image then Step#2 will come up. If you hold the control key then you can open both images from the first dialog box.
Remember that like any internet browser you can right-click the companion window and choose Back to move you to the previous page once you start getting farther forward in the Popims tutorial.
4) Step#2 of the wizard gives you a link titled Open another one in case you didn't already open two images. Left-click this and open your second image. If you've already opened both images click on the link titled Go to next Step!
5) Step#3 of the wizard lets you left-click the link named Open a second window. Notice that both images are loaded into a single window. Looking at the bottom left of the image window were it says 1/2 or 2/2 (meaning you are looking at one of the two images loaded currently). Left-click that link and also the tile the windows link to align them. Now the link Open a second window will separate your two images. The tile window option simply straightens out your two windows in a side-by-side manner.
6) Left-click the magnifying glass icon and try to make both images about the same size on your computer display. One mouse button zooms in and the other moves outward
7) Use the arrow icon with the cross under it to drag your points around. Additionally the other arrow icon will drag points around too. With the other arrow icon and yellow X, you have to be careful about dropping new points while you are dragging to align old points.
Go to the second image where you have already dropped points and move those to where they should be. In my case they started in the corners of the human eyes. So on the second image I moved them to the corner of the lion's eyes. When you get done with this part you'll want to drop many more points. The icons we've been using from the companion are also at the bottom of the screen. At the bottom of each image you'll find the arrow with the yellow "X" under it.
8) Go to the next step. Step#4 of the wizard is the fancy stuff like reversing your animation and all that. This is all extra options and we will move forward for now. If you wish to perform anything in step#4 saving your animation at this point is a good idea. Choose Go to the next step again.
9) Step#5 of the wizard has redundant links at first. Move down to the link titled Creez les images intermediaires. This link helps you create the middle frames that are crucial for the morphing. If it asks you to resize your images than this is a good way to go. Next the Morph to Frame dialog box appears. This is important because the more frames you choose the smoother your fade will be from one image to the next. Try at least 20 frames and see how this looks to you.
10) When you see problems in your morph the best way to fix it is making use of the Show Morph Mesh option. Go up to the menu titled Animation at the top the program. Choose Show Morph Mesh. These triangle overlays will give you a good idea of where your points might need moved or built up for a more detailed transition.
Whenever you see an empty triangle or pink highlighted triangle then it is a sign of a problem. Usually this is a crossed point or some missing points. First make sure the missing or pink triangles aren't because you crossed points. If they are not it may be un-assigned areas. To fix this click in the middle of these open or pink triangles by adding points and assure they get filled in. Sometimes this creates other assigned areas. Remember you can use the magnifying glass to do quality checks in a more close up view. Left mouse clicks move in and right mouse clicks move outward pretty smoothly.
11) Lastly save your morph as an animation or image. For this tutorial save as a single image. Go up to the FILE menu and choose SAVE. In the last submenu option of This frame only... This will store a single JPG image at the best point in your morph (assuming you are looking at that best frame at the moment you save).
Now for my morphing demonstrated in video form. If you are the type person who learns faster watching videos rather than reading, then the below video may be for you. Here I create the entire morph in about 10 minutes with no rushing around. It may seem lengthy but there are many pitfalls that you encounter and I didn't want to neglect these. Problems with points too close to one another or overlapping areas are good to show. Once you know what the program icons are for you can head straight into the process as shown in the video. Feel free to send me feedback if this tutorial worked for you or perhaps why it didn't? I've just put up a feedback area in the icon at the bottom of the screen. Happy morphing!
Long ten-minute and full morphing demonstration done with Popims Animator
Squrilzmorph is another freeware morphing program. Give it a try and see how programs can approach the same task in a slightly different way.
Written March2008 and finally updated March2010 by Tracy Rose