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Morphing Objects

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Detailed Steps

The basic steps are expanded here in more detail to give you more insight into the process and how you might need to adjust it for a specific example. Although more complicated examples might require many more actual steps to detail, you will still accomplish what is set out in the basic overview.

  1. Select two objects to be morphed that have desirable characteristics. In this example, you will be working with the mouse and light meter from Figure 1.

  2. Isolate the objects or image elements you will be working with from their respective backgrounds. To do this, create selections around the elements, save the selections as masks, and copy and paste the elements into their own layers.

  3. NOTE

    It is probably best to feather the selections by one or two pixels, depending on the resolution. The example images were easy to select because the scans were made with easy separation in mind. Selections for other morphing projects may not prove to be so simple if you borrow elements from existing images.

  4. Create a new document that is some 20% larger than the bigger of the two images you will be using (in this example, it is the light meter). This document gives you room to move and shape the objects.

  5. Copy the objects to the new document created in step 3. With the selection active, it is probably easiest to just duplicate the layer using the Duplicate Layer command from the Layer palette menu. Target the new image by selecting it as the destination document when duplicating.

  6. Use the opacity to compare the images. Check comparative size, contour, and detail. The comparison may reveal image similarities that were not apparent during the selection of the images.

  7. Figure 2

    Note that the curve for the mouse button conforms somewhat to the arch of the dial and bottom of the meter window. This was not anticipated, but can be used later to create a better morph.

  8. Make rough general adjustments to the image sizes, shapes, and elements. In this case, the elements are matched for general size. The mouse is scaled larger to about the size of the light meter. Figure 3 shows a comparison between the original mouse size, the larger compromise size, and the light meter. The mouse is scaled using the Scale Transform function (Edit, Transform, Scale).

  9. NOTE

    For best resolution and results, it is usually best just to size down the larger item. In this case, the mouse is scaled larger because there is far more detail in the light meter—and very little that can be lost in the mouse.

    Figure 3

    After comparing the original objects, you decide that the mouse should be scaled larger to grow to the size of the light meter.

  10. The dial is selected out from the light meter and copied to another layer; it is then sized with the Numeric function (Edit, Transform, Numeric) to 90%. The selection is made using the Magnetic and Polygonal Lassos. The Magnetic Lasso does a good job of hugging the dial's ridges, whereas the Polygonal Lasso is easier to use on the broader curve (using very short polygonal segments). Figure 4 shows the result of the sizing overlaid on the scaled mouse.

  11. Figure 4

    The dial is sized down somewhat to scale it to fit on the body of the mouse. Very little fine-tuning is required.

  12. The meter face is selected out of the light meter and placed in its own layer to become part of the mouse button.

  13. To fine-tune the incorporation of the meter window, it is contoured to the front button edge of the mouse using the Shear filter to bend it. See Figure 5.

  14. Figure 5a, Figure 5b

    Reshaping the front end of the meter window makes it look as if it were designed to fit inside the mouse button. This causes other problems, which will be fixed in additional steps and detailing.

  15. Once the bending is complete, the window is fitted to the back of the button. This requires both filling in information (borrowed from the window background) and removal (using the arch of the button as a path for the Eraser tool to define the back edge of the window). First, the open area above the numbers on the meter is copied, pasted, moved into place at the bottom of the window, and merged. Then, a path is created over the arch on the button (using the Pen tool) and stroked with the eraser to reshape the window.

  16. NOTE

    Rebuilding the window ruins the number bar and needle, which are both rebuilt in a later step. See Figure 6.

    Figure 6

    Although fixing the window ruins the finer detail, it is easier to re-create or fill in that detail than to reshape the window around it.

  17. Detail for the meter is replaced by re-creating it from scratch. To replace the number bar, a path is created to approximate the curve; it is then stroked using the Airbrush. Effects are added to create a very slight embossed inner edge and drop shadow. Numbers are added to the bar using a similar type face to the original, which is kerned and scaled to fit the replacement bar. The arch for the numbers is created using the Shear tool with a similar curve as that used to reshape the meter window in step 9. The meter needle is replaced by matching the size of the needle width with an appropriate brush; then, the needle color is sampled and the needle is redrawn in its own layer. Once the needle is in place, the old needle is removed, along with its drop shadow. The results of these enhancements are shown in order (left to right) in Figure 7.
  18. Figure 7a, Figure 7b, Figure 7c

    Left to right, the figures show the addition of the number bar, the numbers, and the needle.

  19. Save the file with all layers so that adjustments can be made later if necessary.

  20. Flatten the image.

  21. Save the final image.

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