Fun With Faces

Symmetry – or more correctly, line symmetry – is where you can flip a shape or image on a line (the line of symmetry, mirror line etc.) and it remains unchanged: both sides of the line of symmetry match exactly.

We are used to seeing symmetrical shapes all around us – or shapes that we expect to be symmetrical.¬† Man-made objects are often truly symmetrical, but nature can be a little ragged around the edges, and what we think may possess perfect symmetry often doesn’t.

Like the human face for example.

Are faces really symmetrical? Well using modern technology we can easily see, and have a little fun with faces at the same time!

Here’s How:

Take an picture of a person – here’s a pic of a fellow maths teacher (looking a little stressed out …):

Using some image editing software – you could use, for example, Photoshop, GIMP (a free image editing software that is similar to Photoshop – it’s what I use), Paint, if you’re a teacher your Smart Board software can be used¬† – copy and paste one side of the image:

Duplicate the image, flip one copy horizontally (the image editing software makes this all a breeze) and move it until the two sides match up, to give you something like this:

or this


As you can see, we get two very different looking images, so our maths teacher is not, perhaps, as symmetrical as we first thought.

Maybe, though, it was because our subject wasn’t looking directly at the camera. So lets try with another pic – this cheeky little chap clearly has the answer (either that, or he desperately needs to go to the loo!)

Original Picture

So lets have a look at his left side and his right side:

The Left Side

The Right Side


Similar – but you can see the differences.

And what about our hero, Einstein?




Have a go yourself – its great fun!

Take a snap or two of friends or family and see how symmetrical they really are. If they are looking a little left or right and not straight ahead you can make your subject really thin or rather wide, with a neck that a pro-boxer would be proud of!

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