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I have two photos of a group of ten people. Unfortunately, one person has the eyes closed in each photo.

I would like to merge one person from one photo into the other so that everyone's eyes are open in one picture.

Are there any tools or applications that are provided with OS X by default that will allow me to do this?

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2 Answers 2

There is nothing unique to the Mac environment here. You will need a photo editing program in order to do this, which would be the same on a Windows machine or any other platform.

Pixelmater is a very popular image editor, and one that I use. It has many features that rival Photoshop. Acorn is another popular editor, again that I've used in the past. Photoshop is, of course, available too.

There is no magic feature in any of these (or any I didn't post) that will do the work for you. You will need to cut and paste portions of one picture into another and hope they line up... or do additional manipulation on the images to make them appear natural.

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You don't need anything special at all, you already have the tools you need to give it a go - frankly it's worth a pop in Preview.

I'll have a quick and dirty go in this answer and see how we go. I've taken 2 photos, one with my eyes open, and one with them shut. I will transfer the eyes from one to the other to create a composite picture of the two. Excuse the poor quality, but they are taken from my webcam in a dimly lit room:

Eyes Open: Open

Eyes Shut: Eyes shut

Opening the picture I want to copy from (just double clicking it should use Preview as the default app on most systems) ensure first that you have the correct edit tool bar showing, and select the elliptical select tool:

Toolbars Toolbars

Now, draw a nice oval around one eye, starting in the top left and moving right and down. If you get it wrong, just single click anywhere outside the selection and start again. Repeat until you have got a good outline of the eye. You can fine tune by grabbing the handles on the selection tool and moving them a little:

Eye selection

Now simply copy this selection, open up the other picture, and paste it in, moving it to the required position (and potentially resizing a tiny bit if required). To remove the selection marks, click anywhere outside them to "set" the paste. If it's not in the right position, click undo, and paste again:

New eye

Repeat with the other eyes, and here is a finished composite:

Done

Top tips:

  • This works better with smaller snippets, obviously the more closeup it is, the more accurate your cropping has to be and the more obvious the effect is.
  • Your photos need to be pretty similar in terms of lighting, zoom levels etc to get a consistent look.
  • Zoom in if required to get more accurate selections.
  • If it's a group shot as you say, then chances are everyone's face is quite small unlike my full face image example, and any imperfections are less likely to be spotted
  • Keep your selections as small as possible, copying a couple of eyes is going to be easier and look better than trying to move a whole head, or person.
  • Other software will provide for more complex features like smoothing the joins over to reduce any hard lines where the colouring is marginally different etc
  • If you had to copy say a piece of eyebrow in order to get the whole eye, and it will not line up in the new picture, then use an intermediate empty picture file, paste it in, cut out the bit you don't want, re-copy it and carry on.
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Nice! Good to know that Preview has some basic tools. I had forgotten the new tools in 10.8, or was it 10.7? –  Evil Closet Monkey Oct 31 '12 at 0:57
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It's not perfect, I have given myself some attractive lower eyelashes, but it was a quick and dirty, and would probably not be noticed if I were to ask someone. To be honest, the cool stuff in Preview came in Tiger, which I think brought in Instant Alpha (maybe Leopard, but I don't think so) - Never underestimate the built in tools. Preview is also cool as a quick and dirty annotation tool for circling, pointing arrows, and blocking out sensitive bits in screenshots etc. –  stuffe Oct 31 '12 at 1:05
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