ModiFace: Better Living Through Photoplasty


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This was an article I did for Asylum back in 2010. I don’t think it ever ran. These folks had developed software that would paste your photo on celebrities’ skulls, without any regard for how giant your face was. And then they sent a stunning redhead to demonstrate it to me because someone told them what my kryptonite was. 

So if you ever wanted to know what 18 varieties of douchebag you would look like if they suffered from hypocephalus, there’s an app for that.  


ModiFace makes facial-recognition software that tinkers with a person’s appearance. Originally developed for plastic surgeons, and now in use throughout the fashion & magazine industries, they’ve made HisMakeover.com, a website where you can play with your own facial features. If a man does it, it’s not technically a makeover, though, so for the purposes of this article I’m going to call this process a “Face/Off,” after the ludicrous 1997 Nic Cage/John Travolta film that put two celebrities’ faces on one other.

Click that pretty “Keep Reading” button before we modify its cheekbones beyond all recognition.

Often, as I work at my computer, my gaze will rise to the 11′ x 8′ mirror bracketed to the wall so that wherever I am, I can admire my own majestically sculpted features.

“Self,” I ask myself, “Could myself be any more self-beautiful?”

“No,” I whisper back adoringly, lovingly, perhaps even erotically. But probably just lovingly.

Then…I hesitantly admit, “But you could use an entirely new face.”

Perfidy! I’ve worked years to perfect my “cockeyed deer in headlights” image. I make looking bad look good. And now, to throw it all away? Thankfully, we live in the future, which means if I want to know what I’d look like with my face Photoshopped onto Tom Cruise’s skull, the internet will do that for me, free and instantaneously. And if I like what I see and want to actually steal his face, well, that’s why there are websites where I can hire Balkan mercenaries. But one step at a time.



I send a straight-on headshot to ModiFace, then await the havoc struck upon my delicate Blue Steel. The next day I meet with Jen and Parham, two fresh-faced employees in no need of a makeover or Face/Off. Dammit, they sent beautiful people to show me how horrible I look. This is exactly like the time Willy Wonka took that kid around his chocolate factory to show off how much better he lived than anyone else. The only difference is I can’t hope for the happy ending of turning into a giant blueberry. Unless…is there a ModiFace feature for that?

Sadly, no. But I can turn into several celebrities almost as smart and charming as produce, since Parham and Jen stuck my visage onto some famous gentlemen to model possible haircuts. If I’ve learned anything, it’s how to give myself a haircut over a toilet. But if I’ve learned two things, it’s that I should never style that haircut after Tom Cruise. Like so:



The software also skews, pinches, and blurs my face into presentable appearance, so I can find out whether I should get a nose job to look my best, or something less dramatic, like bathing my skin in the blood of virgins. If that sounds more dramatic, remember that in the case of the nose job, you’re paying someone thousands of dollars to break your face with a hammer and chisel. At least the virgins get a fresh orange and a doughnut after their donation.

Going back to celebrities, I do slightly better as Brad Pitt. At least there I look like the kind of slightly sketchy guy women only hook up with on tropical vacations so they can leave their guilt on foreign sands.



Of course, this isn’t supposed to be a perfect photo touch-up. Rather, it’s a way to see how new features look in the context of your face. Nowhere is this more evident than the hairstyles, where the angles or size of your face might not fully line up to the one in the photo. For example, Pierce Brosnan’s hair and chin redeem any man’s pug-ugly mug…



…whereas this Matthew McConaughey picture answers all your questions about how a muppet would look if made flesh by vengeful gods.



Plainly, that would work better in real life, but it gives you a decent idea as well as a laugh.

I go home and log into HisMakeover.com (sadly, no one has registered HisFace.com/Off yet) to try this out for myself. Doing the only scientifically acceptable thing, I push nearly every element to its extreme. I pout my lips, tan my skin, raise my eyebrows…





…and I’m all set for The Jersey Shore. Now that’s fame.

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