Adobe Photoshop’s Liquify filter is a powerful utility that lets you expand, contract, nudge, or alter selected areas to reshape subjects in an image. It’s especially useful for making subtle alterations to face and full body portraits. In this tip, I’ll cover the basics of how to use Liquify to do some quick nip and tuck liposuction work that your model will thank you for.
Open the image you want to make adjustments to, and access Liquify by going to Filter → Liquify. You’ll see a tool bar with tools that are specific to this filter. Here are some of them and how you can use them for touching up images for microstock:
- Forward Warp Tool – This is the top one and is the most useful option. This tool works by pushing image pixels in the direction you drag the tool. This is great for reducing the size of hips, thighs, arms, legs, or anything where you can gently nudge the edges inward. It’s also great for straightening or reshaping a nose. Change brush size and click and drag the area you want to adjust.
Note that using the tool to nudge into an area to decrease its size also stretches the outside of that area to compensate. So be sure to work with gentle, small brushstrokes so that you don’t get a noticeably blurred and warped result. This tool works great when your subject is against a white or other solid background, because the stretching of the solid color isn’t visible.
- Pucker Tool – This one is great for easily reducing the overall size of an area, such as a tummy. It’s also useful for minimizing jowels and double chins. This tool works best by clicking in place without dragging.
- Bloat Tool – This tool behaves just the opposite of the Pucker Tool by expanding the image area clicked on. I’ve found this to be useful for slightly widening eyes when someone is caught halfway to blinking or is squinting due to the sun, and in evening out the eyes when one is noticeably wider than the other.
- Freeze Mask Tool – Use this tool to isolate the areas to be impacted by painting a mask that will protect parts of the image from any Liquify effects.
In the example above, I used the Forward Warp tool to slim the model’s hips and the Pucker Tool to tighten her stomach and waistline. The difference is very subtle and would hardly be noticeably except when comparing them side-by-side.
As with most Photoshop adjustments, a little goes a long way. You can end up with some pretty strange and unattractive effects if you’re not careful. But used skillfully and gently, the Liquify filter tool can give results that make a huge difference to your overall image. So if you haven’t tried using the power of Photoshop’s Liquify filter, then now’s a good time to jump on in and try your hand at face and body sculpting with digital lipo.
Do you have an interesting suggestion on how to use the Liquify Tool? Let us know by leaving a comment below.