• How to morph several pictures

    Article by Ey@el

    Original en français

    The morphing technique is often used for special effects in motion pictures but also to create holograms. Why not use it to created unconventional animated GIF's out of static images? There are many applications available to do this. I've chosen Sqirlz Morph because it's a freeware and it's doesn't hog resources. Besides its ease of use and the quality of the output immediately won me over. Unfortunately, like Sqirlz Water Reflections introduced previously (see Related articles), it only runs on Windows (XP/Vista/7/8?), but the good news for Linux users is that it also runs fine on Wine. To install, unzip the archive then double-click on the extracted EXE file (you might need to have administrator's rights).

    Materials

    - two or more similar (or not) portraits of people/animals with the same dimensions and background

    Sqirlz Morph

    Instructions

    1. Launch Sqirlz Morph and open a copy of each picture you wish to include (green folder icon on the top toolbar or File - Open menu).  In order to reduce the size of the animation, I advise you start with resized pictures according to the what you intend to do with the output. Even though the program will offer to resize the final animation, it will thus save a lot of system resources and speed up processing.

    2. Click on the first image you wish to start with to select it. Use the green cross-hair in the left side toolbar (or Control Points - Add menu) and click wherever you want to add a control point. You need to add these according to the common features between both pictures as they will serve as guidelines to morph from image 1 to image 2.

    3. Select the last picture. Use the black arrow on the left side toolbar (or Control Points - Move menu) and click on any control point to move it to the correct position (see capture below — the control point in image 2 is circled in image 1 so that you can adjust its position).

    4. Once all the control points are set and in synch, click on the inverted dotted triangle in the top toolbar (or Morph - Period menu) to specify the number of frames you animation should have (I've used the default value which is 20). You may click on the yellow arrow to preview your animation. For this picture, I've selected Reverse and Mix1 in the Morph menu. If your pictures are too large, you may choose to resize them automatically upon processing (Morph - Resize on Saving menu).

    5. Now let's save the animation as an animated GIF (you may also chose to save it as an AVI or Flash file or to save frame individually to use with another image editing program. Click on the GIF icon on the top toolbar (or Morph - Make GIF File menu). A dialog box will open requesting a filename and output filepath. Then you'll need to specify your desired framerate (animation speed). For this example, I chose 20 images per second. Click OK to start processing.

    NOTE: Since I was not pleased with the smoothness of the resulting animation, I've change the duration of some frames with Animation Shop (see Related articles).


    The above two examples are not really morphing. I must stress I haven't cheated and none of the images used come from existing videos or animated GIF's. For my lips, I've checked One Way rather than Reverse (Morph menu) and changed the duration of the first image only (there are two). For the sexy guy, I've applied the same processes as for the cats except it turned out to be more difficult to find the correct control points because of the 90° head rotation and several attempts were needed. In order to get the most natural movement with only two individual pictures, I absolutely had to change the duration of some intermediate frames.

    As you can see, this program is very easy to use and the only limit is your own imagination. The only risk you take is to be overwhelmed by the quality of the output. So have fun, morph all the way!

    Ey@el

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