One typical instance of morphing in animation is the transformation of a face into an elderly one, an animal, or even an alien shape. The method produced some famous moments in popular cultures, such as the liquid metal T-1000 character from Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991).

Morphing in Animation: Detailed Explain and Guide 
Morphing in Animation: Detailed Explain and Guide

However, as technology has advanced, morphing as a technique has grown in popularity and scope. Today, utilizing creative software, people may produce morphing-style effects at home.

What is morphing animation?

In animation and movies, morphing is a special effect that converts (or morphs) one image or shape into another with a smooth transition. Traditionally, dissolving processes on film would be used to create such a representation.

Morphing in Animation: Detailed Explain and Guide 
What is morphing animation?

This was superseded by computer software to produce more realistic transitions in the early 1990s. Audio recordings might use a similar technique, for instance, by switching vocal lines or voices.

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Morphing vs tweening

These days, advanced flash animation methods like morphing and tweening are widely used. Morphing is the more well-known of the two, but inbetweening, also called just tweening, is generating more attention because it enables the user to construct intermediary frames when switching between images.

The two methods resemble one another quite a bit. However, there are some distinctions that this essay will highlight in order to dispel readers’ concerns.

  • Two methods for changing an object’s motion include morphing and tweening.
  • The process of smoothly morphing one face into a completely different one is known as morphing.
  • Graphic designers can adjust an animated character’s size, color, and location by using tweening.
  • When utilizing Flash as the animation technology, tweening has become a crucial component.

Types of morphing in animation

Morphing in Animation: Detailed Explain and Guide 
Types of morphing in animation

Morphing at max speed

This kind of morphing is frequently seen in movies. Things can change while they’re moving. The spacecraft in Flight of the Navigator is one such. It is simpler to cover up any minor irregularities by morphing moving objects because they are moving quickly and are less likely to be observed.

Direct morphing

For simpler animations, morphing is another option. For instance, to change a straightforward line-drawn design into a different shape. To switch from a square to an animated circle in Adobe Animate, use the shape tween tool.

3D morphing

Another strategy is 3D morphing. It is a 3D modeling process, not a film industry approach. These morphing animations are employed to change between various motions. A morph target specifies each gesture or posture. It’s employed to give motion to non-skeletal items.

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History of morphing in animation

Morphing in Animation: Detailed Explain and Guide 
History of morphing in animation

In Hollywood, morphing animation first appeared in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The method evolved as digital technology started to change how movies were made and edited.

Early digital morphing techniques were employed in 1986’s Flight of the Navigator to produce the special effect of a spaceship that transformed from chunky to aerodynamic as it accelerated. A group at Omnibus Computer Animation, comprising Bob Hoffman and Bill Creber, produced this.

In 1989, with its seamless transformation of a goat into an emu, a peacock, a tortoise, a tiger, and finally the human sorceress Fin Raziel, Willow set new standards in visual effects.

One of the most recognizable scenes in the contemporary film was produced in 1991 with the use of morphing for the blockbuster sequel Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The movie’s antagonist, the T-1000, transforms into furniture, objects, and even the ground.

In 1992, an application from Gryphon Software introduces potent visual effects software to the Apple Macintosh home computer. Bringing morphing technology to the general public, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and PC World magazines all published articles about it.

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Examples of morphing in animation

Morphing in Animation: Detailed Explain and Guide 
Examples of morphing in animation

Flight of the Navigator

A digital effects team used morphing to alter the shape of a spacecraft in flight for this 1986 Disney movie. Jeff Kleiser, an effects specialist, had been experimenting with reflection mapping software and technologies.

He oversaw a group that digitally rearranged the polygons in two spacecraft models so that their topographies were identical. The spacecraft’s appearance changed from clunky to sleek as a result of the seamless transition between these two versions.

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Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

James Cameron, the director, transformed what was possible with movie special effects by using morphing. The most famous method used by Cameron in the 1991 movie was morphing.

George Lucas’ innovative visual effects studio, Industrial Light and Magic used morphing technology to depict the T-1000 character’s “liquid” makeup. They constructed computer models to match the many states of the T-1000, from chrome to melting blob, after laser scanning actor Robert Patrick, who played the T-1000. It was the 1992 Visual Effects Oscar winner.

How does morphing work?

Morphing in Animation: Detailed Explain and Guide 
How does morphing work?

Target and source images

Each animation morph has a target and a source picture. The original object, such as Robert Patrick’s face in Terminator 2, is the source image, and the new element, whether it be an animal or liquid metal, is what you wish to transmit to it.

List the features

To establish precise measurements, the precise contour of your original source material, such as an actor’s skull, must be mapped. These are then utilized to make models or locate videos of the target of the morph.

Aligned feature points

A succession of points in both the original and morphed objects will be recognized by specialized software. This makes sure that important regions, like an individual’s eye, match. In-between frames then swap the pixels from the old object for the new one after these places have been corrected.

How to do morphing in After Effects

Morphing in Animation: Detailed Explain and Guide 
How to do morphing in After Effects

Step 1. Split the layers

Have the original object (let’s say a smartphone) and the one you wish to morph into it in a clip first (say, a cushion). Then, create two layers for this clip, one for each object. Just divide the layer into two copies.

Step 2. Trim the clips

There are now two clips available, one for each object. Now, you must precisely trim each of these to the point where the morph transition will occur. To make sure that movements between the two layers are seamless, you might need to conduct some altering.

Step 3. Mask the objects

The morphing between the two shapes can now be set up. Draw a mask around the smartphone using the pen tool; if there is movement, you must also animate it. Give the mask a new name, such as “mask phone.” Apply the same procedure to the cushion. For the mask route, enable keyframes.

Step 4. Add the morph effect

Return to the beginning of the transition, choose “object two masks,” and paste it onto the layer for object one. Two masks on this layer should now be visible in the mask setting. Then, change the cushion’s mask mode to “none.” Select the phone, and then paste it onto the cushion morph layer.

Step 5. Set source and destination masks

Use the “reshape effect” in the tools panel to reshape the smartphone into the shape of the cushion. Set the cushion’s shape as the destination mask and the remote mask as the source mask.

Step 6. Transition the objects

The smartphone mask’s contents will then be reshaped utilizing correspondence points into the cushion mask’s shape. These determine which portion of one thing will be molded to the remainder. This is more accurate in After Effects with more correspondence points.

Step 7. Make it invisible

The smartphone has now undergone a transformation that gives it the appearance of a cushion. You now fade away the smartphone using After Effects tools, causing it to vanish as it takes the form of a cushion. Repeat steps 5 through 7 for the cushion now.

Step 8. Play the transition

On playback, the smartphone will now take on the appearance of a cushion. To make the transition between the two items more seamless, you’ll need to play about with the liquified effect and adjust the opacity.

Morphing in Animation: Detailed Explain and Guide 
Morphing in Animation: Detailed Explain and Guide


How is morphing carried out?

Typically, color interpolation and image warping are used to create morphing. A seamless transition is made from a source image to a target image, and the transition is smooth for the viewer.

What are items that morph?

Similar to tweening in 2D animation, morphing is an animation technique. By interpolating the first item’s vertices to match the vertex positions of another object, a morph object combines two or more objects. A morphing animation is produced when this interpolation takes place throughout time.

What does image processing morphing mean?

An image processing method called morphing is used to transform one image into another. The goal is to create a series of intermediary photos that, when combined with the original images, would show how an image changes from one to the next.

The purpose of morphing in animation

It can be used to combine two or more photos into one new picture. Morphing is mostly used to add special effects to animation and motion films. Additionally, it is frequently utilized in interactive UI design and gaming. Typically, color interpolation and image warping are used to create morphing.


The most well-known use of morphing in animation is in high-end Hollywood productions and special effects. It was utilized to provide previously unseen visual effects for movies like Willow and Flight of the Navigator. Additionally, it is employed in cartoons, advertisements, music videos, and hobbyists.

Using creative tools like Adobe After Effects, you may add morph effects to your videos. However, it’s a difficult process that calls for expertise and experience. 

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