Mona Lisa vs. Leonardo's Selfie



The Mona Lisa morphing into Leonardo's self portrait. 
More about this on my site - HERE


I received a comment on my discoveringdavinci tumblr about this gif that made me realize I needed to explain it better. 
"Okay I have been hearing about this for years but finally seeing this gif makes me think that you can just morph any face into any other face.
I AM NOT ON BOARD WITH YOU, DA VINCI WEIRDOS." - Random internet person

I think that particular misunderstanding was with the actual morph that I used to compare the face of the Mona Lisa and Leonardo's sketch. I should explain that and then also address those who will discount the faces being the same as coincidence.
"Of course you can ‘morph’ any face into any other face with morphing software. That is what Morphing software does and what I used to make this gif. Obviously Leonardo did not have any morphing software 500 years ago so this was used as a demonstration. The significance of Leo’s self portrait and the Mona Lisa’s face being compared is that he personally created both faces and each face has nearly identical features. Normally that would not be ‘weird’ but in this case it calls into question the identity of the Mona Lisa since his face aligns so well. Why would his face align with that of a woman? (Especially Lisa G) The biggest curiosity isn't even that they are so similar it’s that they seem to be designed to be viewed together simultaneously while being superimposed over each other- like a mask. The same effect could be shown without ‘morphing software’ but instead simply placing the faces over each other (without a change in proportion) and changing the transparency. Or place both images side by side and cross reference the parts that correspond. In other words he didn’t design both ‘people’ (how they look) to be compared or for them to appear similar but for the actual painting and sketch to superimpose, again like a mask.




In the gifs above that show the actual comic book super hero's being morphed into their 'real life actors' you can understand what 'morphing' does. In that case the creator of the gifs had to find specific poses/ angles of the face/ of both the actors and the comic art. I would imagine that was not an easy task in itself and much more difficult than the morph.

The difference between those and the Mona Lisa/ da Vinci sketch is that they were both created by the same person but they are not seemingly of the same person. Yet if you put a dot on the pupil of Mona and then trace her eye - and do the same for Leo's sketch - they are nearly identical. There are obviously just as many differences as similarities but that is not the point. In the same way that someone wanted to show both the differences annnd the similarities between the comics and the actors - the Mona/Leo combo is reminiscent but has one very significant difference. Intention and design. They are not brought together by rummaging through various comics to find the right angle or pausing a movie just right to get a screen shot to hopefully align - they are already set in place and ready. It would be like Marvel scanning in all of the pictures of comic Thor and then creating a "Thor Mask" and whoever fit in it best got the part. They are pre-designed coordinates. You can imagine it like star - constellations and then including the same one in two images but instead of stars they are facial coordinates. We have computer software that can do "Facial Detection" that recognize people's faces like finger prints - even when they are wearing facial hair or a different style haircut. That same type of "software" is how our minds and vision system do the same thing. It's how we can recognize people we haven't seen for years or since childhood even though they have changed a lot.

In the gifs of the comic characters morphing into the real life actors the gif creator found random cartoons (sketches) and then found photographs of the actual actors - then used those to make the morph. The Mona Lisa/ da Vinci sketch combo is as if the comic book illustrators and the real life actors collaborated. So instead of someone having to mix and match - they would take a photograph of the actor in a specific pose and then the illustrators would sketch the comic book character in the exact same pose with the INTENTION of both the photograph and the sketch combining.

So what i'm alluding to is that the face of the Mona Lisa and Leonardo's self portrait were not the "same person' or happen to be similar but that the IMAGES - the actual painting and the sketch - were designed to be combined. The difference between those ideas are very interesting.

An easy explanation for the faces being so 'similar' would be that Leonardo used his own face as a model to help guide him in finishing up the face of the "Mona Lisa' so that it would inadvertently share his characteristics and facial features.  That is not only very plausible but also only part of the story. You could also think of it as if someone were to trace the Mona Lisa and then erase some parts of it and re-draw their own face. If you did that you would have something very similar to Leo's sketch. Is that "weird" or crazy? Or even remotely difficult to do or conceive of?

For Big Brother last season they had a veto competition that demonstrates what I mean:


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They used a photograph of Nick and then superimposed/ replaced it over the face of the Vitruvian man. They did the same thing with another house guest -Helen and the Mona Lisa. 


Hundreds of people do it to "Mock Mona" all the time.






There is more to it than "meets the eye" and requires a preface and additional information about each image and Leonardo to appreciate. He worked on the Mona Lisa for almost 20 years so you can imagine that for one of his only known 'self portraits to be able to be superimposed over it - it probably not a coincidence.

Ask yourself. If you spent years painting the same painting over and over with thousands of layers - and then you sketched yourself - how likely would it be for your sketch to align with the face of your painting? Now imagine you are someone considered to be the greatest genius/ artist who has ever lived. Coincidence or carefully constructed  puzzle?

"If  liberty is dear to you may you never discover that my face is the prison of love." - Leonardo da Vinci
 
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The gif was created with photo-morphing software that lets you ‘merge’ two pictures. It works by letting you select a point on one image and then it puts a point in the same spot on the next image. Then you can move that second point and the software morphs those two points together in the final animation. So if you were using the exact same picture then if you put a point on one it would automatically go on the exact same point on the other. If you used two different pictures of two different people you would select the pupil in image 1 and then move that point to the pupil in image 2 - then the software would morph them. 

In the case of the Mona Lisa and Leo’s sketch I used the morphing software to show how similar each image is to each other. The dots on Mona’s face do not have to be altered much to fit right over the same spots on Leo’s sketch. The significance is that he designed these faces to be superimposed or placed on top of each other - like a mask. To do this without any kind of software you could trace the face of the Mona Lisa and then trace the face of the sketch and then compare. 



video





It should be noted that Lillian Schwartz originally noticed that Leonardo's Self Portrait aligns with the face of the Mona Lisa. My research into this particular mystery started when I wanted to test out if the faces actually aligned.
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