Ever look through the pages of TWS and wonder how all those sick sequences get morphed together? Of course you have-I know ’cause I get e-mails every day from readers asking me how to layer sequences together. Normally I ignore you because there just isn’t time to respond when the magazine is in production. But today is your lucky day-I’m going to break it down so you can make some morphs of your own.


You’re going to need a computer that can handle the load. I’m talking something with a ton of RAM and enough storage space to hold a file that’s 200 megs. I prefer a Macintosh G5-that bad boy will cost you around two Gs for the bottom-line model. You’ll also need a copy of Adobe Photoshop-why use anything but the best? If money is a problem, better bust out the scissors and glue stick.

The Right Sequence

Okay, now you need to pick the photos. If you don’t have TWS Photo Editor Nick Hamilton on hand to tell you which sequence to morph, then it’s all up to you. Pick something that doesn’t have drastic camera movement. The less the photographer moved the camera when shooting the sequence, the better. I find that horizontal photos usually work best.

Once you have your sequence picked out, you need to scan the slides in. If you don’t have your own prepress team to help you out, then you might be scanning for a long time. It takes a little bit to scan in a twenty-shot sequence and color-correct it before you’re ready to rock and roll.

Turn It Out

There’re a lot of different ways to build a morph, and every graphic designer has their own technique. Personally, I like to create a new master file-around 30-by-30 inches. This gives you plenty of room to work within the file. I import all the scans in layered order into my master file, then I line them up starting with layer one. This takes turning down the layer opacity and using trees or other static elements within the photo to see where to place it.

After I have the layers placed, I start at the beginning of the sequence, using the first layer as the background and knocking out everything but the rider in the next couple layers after. You still with me? Good, now do that for the next three or four layers, after which you’ll need to add more background. Just use the next chosen background layer as a full frame and blend it with layer one to extend the background. Make sense? Keep doing that until you get to the end of the sequence.

Clean Up

Your morph may not be a perfect rectangle. Most likely it looks like there are blocks missing from the sky and ground. So how do you make the morph into a perfect rectangle? Now that’s the true trick of the trade, and if you think I am going to give that one up, you’re shit out of luck. All I need is someone else competing for my job-best of luck figuring it out. I’ll give you a hint, though: don’t use the clone tool, that’s a tell-tale sign from a mile away. That said, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for my next article: “How To Make It Look Like You’re Working When You’re Really Instant Messaging Your Friends All Day.”-Doug Manson