Types of Morphs

By Brent Ropelato
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So, you've seen morphing in action and want to try it, but do you know your options? Once you take the first step and pick a morph type, you'll need to choose photos that best match that style. In this article we'll show you basic morph types and tell you how to pick good photos for each. (For ideas on funny morph themes, read Hilarious Morph Projects, another article on this site.)

Single Image Morphs

A single morph is the most basic morph you can create-morphing one image to another image. For example, you can morph photos of two brothers; begin with one photo then morph to the other.

Just for fun, you can display a frame halfway between the first photo and the second to project an imaginary but realistic "third" brother.

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Here's an example. Below are photos of two brothers and a morphed image of a third boy. Which image is the morph? (Don't read on until you guess.)

If you guessed that the first image was morphed, you guessed right. Hair color and eye color for the first image are a blend of the two real photos (but the blended shirt color is the real giveaway).

We had several people look at these images and some picked wrong-an easy mistake to make because the morph is so realistic. Why is the morphed boy so convincing? Because the source and destination photos are nearly identical in background, quality, facial size, pose, contrast, color, even lighting direction. Putting together a convincing morph using such similar photos was easy.



 

This example was created in FantaMorph.

If you want to create an imaginary third image like this, choose or stage pictures that have nearly identical features. If your photos don't match as perfectly as these, consider using

photo editing software to bring them into harmony. You can change photo size, trim irregular backgrounds, even alter lighting direction.

Multiple Image Morphs

You can have a lot of fun with multiple morphs (also called "Series Morphs" by some manufacturers and "Morph 2+ Images" on our Morphing Software Homepage). Morphing a flower into a bird then morphing that bird into a child is a multiple morph; more than two images are involved. Morphing a series of photos into a mini-morph movie is a challenging but fascinating project.

For a morph this diverse, pick a common visual theme-such as a similar background or a dark spot that the eye can latch onto during the morph; here's an example.

This example was created in FantaMorph.

You probably noticed that the dark eyes of the eel became the eyes of the white tiger then morphed into festive glasses on the woman. Eyes make a good focal point. Spend the time to add enough anchor points to the eyes to ensure a smooth morph and that's what your viewer will watch.

There were some background similarities too; the backgrounds of the first two photos are both green and muted. The background behind the woman isn't green, but if you find you need more similarity you can edit using photo editing software.

The more parallel your photos are in color, contrast and focal point, the more convincing the morph will be. Why? Because the viewer's mind focuses on the smooth change of your focal point. Your viewers will watch the eyes morph while other characteristics blend and change inconspicuously to the viewer's mind.

Before you tackle a multiple morph, focus on becoming expert at smooth single morphs. Once you are confident you can place anchor points precisely for convincing single morphs, you are ready.

Take time to pick multiple morph photos carefully; you'll want as much similarity as possible. The most impressive multiple morphs have several similarities and a few drastic differences.

Deform Morphs, Distortion Morphs, and Warp Morphs

Most morphing software will allow you to alter a photo in ways that will remind you of funhouse mirrors at the fair, but morphing software manufacturers call these features by different names. On our Morphing Software Homepage, we've labeled warp morphs as morphs you create manually with anchor points. Deform and distortion morphs are morphs that are automated. You can add deform and distort effects by clicking a menu option or by clicking and dragging the mouse.

For this article, we'll stick with the generic term "warp morphing," meaning you can stretch, distort, or twist an image. You can make a photo of your little brother grow tall and skinny in seconds (instead of in years) or turn a friend into a cone head.

This example was created in FantaMorph.

If you are creating a warp morph from one image to another, however, make sure that both images are the same pixel size. Most morphing programs have a resize tool so you can match image sizes closely before distorting.

Mask Morphing

A "mask" will isolate a specific part of an image and keep that part of the image stationary. Mask morphing tools come in handy when you want to warp, deform or animate just part of the picture. For example, you can mask most of the face and enlarge only the nose on a photo. You can even take a picture of an infant, mask all but one eyelid, and then make the baby appear to wink.

This example was created in FantaMorph.

Auto Reverse Morphing

When the morph sequence reaches the end (the target image) it will reverse, morphing back to the starting photo. If your reverse morph is so impressive that you never want it to end, try auto loop morphing.

Auto Loop Morphing

This morphing tool lets you automatically reverse then replay a morph. After completing just one morph sequence, you can morph a photo of a frog into a dill pickle, back to a frog, then repeat the transformation forever.

 

This example was created in FantaMorph.

Beyond these morph types, you can polish your morph with custom backgrounds, custom foregrounds or frames. You can even perform simple edits, such as cropping, rotating, altering color, sharpening focus, and tweaking contrast. Some morphing software allows you to apply filters to your images, such as negative morphing, grayscale morphing, and embossed morphing. For more details on what features each morphing software package offers, in addition to morphing definitions, see our Morphing Software Homepage .

Now that you've got the basics covered, get started in the fun, imaginative world of morphing.

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