Photoshop Top 40
Illustration by John Hersey

29. Liquify


Photoshop Top 40

with Deke McClelland

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Video: 29. Liquify

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #29 is Liquify. Now, if you have seen any of my Deke pods and you've seen me demonstrate Liquify ad nauseum. I have done a lot of videos on it lately. But here's another one and this is a slightly different take on the program. Now Liquify is an independent utility that runs inside a Photoshop. It allows you to paint in distortion so you can perform digital nips and tucks. You can slim people down. You can actually perform structural work.
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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop Top 40
7h 13m Intermediate Dec 21, 2009

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There's nothing people love more than lists, and Photoshop Top 40 offers a great one, highlighting the best features in Photoshop. Deke McClelland counts down to #1, detailing one great feature after another in this popular digital imaging application. The videos cover tools, commands, and concepts, emphasizing what's really important in Photoshop.

Topics include:
  • Assembling multiple pieces of artwork with layer comps
  • Creating a black-and-white image from a color photograph
  • Merging multiple channels to create an alpha channel with calculations
  • Selecting images with the Pen tool
  • Masking images using the Brush tool
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

29. Liquify

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #29 is Liquify. Now, if you have seen any of my Deke pods and you've seen me demonstrate Liquify ad nauseum. I have done a lot of videos on it lately. But here's another one and this is a slightly different take on the program. Now Liquify is an independent utility that runs inside a Photoshop. It allows you to paint in distortion so you can perform digital nips and tucks. You can slim people down. You can actually perform structural work.

So if somebody has a dent in their head or something along those lines, you can take care of the problem. You can even it out. You can make people look their absolute best and here's a case in point. This image comes to us from Serg Zastavkin. This woman is perfectly good looking. It's just that her pose is so darn frumpy, she is sort of got her head inclined in as a result her entire body is at an angle, so she has this shoulder raised up and this one sort of drooping downward and as a result her elbows aren't even. Notice that it looks like she's got a gorilla arm over on this side and then she's got a slightly shorter arm on this side here, even though they're both looking a little orangutan-ish.

And then finally she is sitting on this narrow stool, which is playing out her hips. I'm not sure that's the most flattering pose and down here at the bottom we could stand to do a little bit of work on the ankles and this is all stuff that's just perfect for Liquify as you're about to see. And we can perform really radical modifications as well. By the end of this exercise, I'm going to go ahead and tilt her head upwards so that's she sitting erect. So I'm going to click with my Selection tool to deselect the entire image, just so that we can work on the whole thing at the same time. I'll go up to the Filter menu and choose Liquify to bring up the big old Liquify window here.

As I say, it's an independent utility. It has a bunch of tools over here on the left-hand side, a bunch of options over here on the right-hand side. Most of your work though is going to be done using the Default tool, which is called the Forward Warp tool, but most people just call it the Wrap tool, which is why it has a keyboard shortcut of W for Warp. All right, let's go ahead and zoom in a little bit here and the first thing that we need to do is drag up those elbows, just kind of bring up the entire body. So she does look quite like such a flat tire here. If we just go ahead and sort of raise up the entire thing, I think things will look better.

So I'm going to increase the size of my brush by pressing and holding on the right bracket key. That's going to increase the size of the brush. If it's going too slow for you, as it is for me then you can press Shift along with right bracket and that will increase the size of the brush that much more quickly. And then I'm just kind of drag these elbows upwards. So I'll start with this one, drag it up and notice as I'm dragging it up the hip raises along with it and then I'll drag this elbow up as well. Now, I'm creating this sort of compressed torso here, I'll work on that as well.

And my rule of thumb where Liquify is concerned is to apply a slight of modifications as you can afford to. In other words, as you have the patience to applying. However, the way I tend to work when I'm going at an image is I tend to work big at first, so I apply great big modifications initially and then I'll back it off and apply smaller modifications in the end, in order to just sort of firm things up. All right, so I just went ahead and dragged both of those elbows up significantly. Might as well drag up that shoulder as well. On squish interface, don't worry about that.

We'll come back to that. And now I'll decrease the size of my brush by pressing and holding left bracket key, while I compress Shift+ Left bracket for quicker results like so and I'll go ahead and drag this area up and I'll drag these hips up as well. Scoot them upwards so that we get something that looks a little more appealing I think. A little more flattering and then I'll drag this portion of the arm down. Watch this stuff. You can end up with very unfortunate modifications, if you're not paying attention to what you're doing. So go ahead and take the time to evaluate each brushstroke as you apply it. I'll go ahead and undo that one by pressing Ctrl+Z, Cmd+Z on the Mac.

You can also back-step multiple operations by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Z or Cmd+Option+Z on the Mac. That's exactly how it works in the larger world of Photoshop. All right, I'll go ahead and increase the size of this arm, just a little bit, tuck this part in as well and I want to raise this hip, just a little bit more. Now, what you'll find is when you're compressing an area it tends to look okay. For example, I'm compressing the hips and the pants here, but the area that you dragging, you're always dragging out one area. So you're always increasing the size of one area of the image and decreasing the size of another area in the image.

So everything has an equal opposite reaction, don't you know and what that means is the area that you stretch, which is the white here in my case is going to end up looking stretched. So, we will actually have stretched pixels, sort of motion blur pixels going on. That's something to watch out for because I'm working against a white background. This image is quite forgiving. So as long as I keep squishing things inward, I'm going to be okay. I'm not going to end up with any stretching because there is nothing to stretch out there. All right, I might also go ahead and reduce the size of my cursor some more, drag these sleeves down a little bit. I know that's the blouse is suppose to be but I don't like it, so I'm going to drag it down, ever so slightly here just to sort of even things out.

Maybe drag this up. One of the things that you are going to have to keep an eye out for as you drag things in is sort of lumpy areas. Notice if I drag in these portions of the arm a little bit they are starting to kind of lump up right there and we don't want that lumpiness. It's an entirely bad thing. So you can switch to one of the other tools. And the next most useful tool I think inside Liquify after Warp that is to say is this guy right here, Pucker. Very useful tool. For example, if I grab that Pucker tool, it's great on tummies, incidentally. I'll increase the size of the brush fairly significantly here and I'll just click a few times inside the tummy region right there and notice what a terrific job it does of just liposuctioning away that area.

All right, we might go ahead and drag these areas outward a little bit, in order to sort of reduce the size of the arms and increase the size of this blouse region right there. All right, but having done that another use for the Pucker tool is that it's great for straightening out the lumps. So I'll go ahead and grab the Pucker tool and watch this. I'll reduce the size of my cursor significantly right there to about that size and then I'll click at this location and nothing really happened, nothing of merit happened there but that just establishes a click point and then I'll drop down to the elbow region and I'll Shift+ Click like so, and what Photoshop does is it goes ahead and draws a straight line between a Click and a Shift+Click point and it draws the line of Pucker and that line of Pucker ends up straightening things out quite nicely.

I will go ahead and click here and Shift+Click on that arm, this side of the arm as well to straighten it out. So you just want to Click and Shift+Click right on the edge, is how that works out for you. So try that out. It works great on arms and legs. Also by the way we'll find that the Pucker tool is going to work out nicely on these ankles. So I'll go ahead and increase the size of my cursor, a fair amount there and then I'll just click. Notice that I'm just clicking here inside of the leg. I'm not doing any click and drag action because if I do a click and drag we will get this number which isn't going to look at all. So undo that.

We just want to do a couple of clicks here and there and by a couple about 20 or so. You want to click sort of all over the place in order to get this looking right. And then same thing over here on this ankle. Not quite so much because this one's pointing directly on it so it's bound to be a little thicker. But we do want to go trim things up and have them still look reasonably good and I think this looks pretty darn nice. Now I'll go ahead and get my Warp tool, my Forward Warp tool if you will and I'll drag these knees down a little bit, just to extend the fabric. And at this point, you can see what I am talking about with the stretching.

You're going to get some stretched details once you start dragging inside your image and that's just something keep an eye out for. You just want to compensate for to the best of your ability. Now finally, what I'm going to do. Let's say I want to apply something quite a radical modification. I want to bring her head upward. Now, I have already kind of squished her head a little bit and I want to now twirl it in order to raise it and that's a decent use for the Twirl clockwise tool, which either twirls clockwise or if you press Alt or Option it twirls counterclockwise.

Now I don't use this tool then often but for big image rotations I do find it helpful. Thing is first we're going to have to mask off some of the image in order to protect it. So I'm going to grab my Freeze Mask tool and I'm going to paint in the areas that I don't want to mess up, like so and I'm going to have to paint actually quite a bit of the image in order to protect it. So I'll just keep painting around this area here and obviously it doesn't have to be a beautiful mask but we do need to protect the lower region so that we don't end up messing them up. You'll see why, in just a minute because we are going to have to go with a very large brush indeed.

All right, having done that, I am now ready to grab my Twirl Clockwise tool, check this out and I'm going to increase the brush size to its absolute maximum, which is 1500 pixels, and then notice where the cross is. Right there at the base of the neck. That's going to serve as the fulcrum for my rotation and then I'm going to click and hold and I'm going to rotate her head more or less upright. Now let's go ahead and zoom in. Now you can see that we have a few problems. We might have to go at this area right there, that messed up shoulder with a Reconstruct tool. We would also have to push her head over a little bit using -- when I say a little bit, I mean a lot bit using the Warp tool.

All kinds of other stuff we need to do. I will go ahead and reduce the size of my brush now. Let's go ahead and get rid of the mask by clicking in the None button. It served its purpose and you might want to take a look at the Reconstruct tool here just to get a sense of how it works. Go ahead and reduce the size of my cursor even more and notice that you just kind of want to click here and there with a tool in order to reconstruct those details and now we'll go ahead and incrementally back step your operations. All right, I am going to grab my Warp tool once again, because I still want to move that shoulder up, lot of work still left to do, I would have to sort of drag her head over here.

I might find that the Bloat tool by the way would be useful for getting those eyes to be the same size. So Bloat is exactly the opposite of Pucker and in fact you can switch their behavior. So if you're painting with a Pucker tool and you want to bloat something, that is increase the size as opposed to reduce it, then you would Alt or Option click with the Pucker tool. If you're working with a Bloat tool and you want to Pucker something, then you would Alt+Option click as well. All right, finally let's say I'm pleased as punch with the job I've done so far, technically not of course but perhaps I might want to see how the effect looks inside of Photoshop before I revisit Liquify.

Before you ever leave this filter, I really want you to get in a habit of doing this. Go ahead and click on the Save Mesh button. Because everything you do inside Liquify is a Mesh distortion and you can see that Mesh by turning on the show Mesh check box. Notice that I have gone ahead and painted in this sort of Web style Mesh distortion here and that defines the distortion effect that I'm applying. But I want to save it out, so go ahead and turn off Save Mesh. You don't need to see it, in order to save it. Click on Save Mesh in order to save out that effect.

You can see that I've already saved one in advance here. Go ahead and give it a name, My liquify settings or something along those lines, and then go ahead and click Save. In that way, if you click on OK as I'll do right here, to apply your effect and then you do sort of the before and after versions of the effects here. Let me press Ctrl+Z or Cmd +Z on the Mac to look at the before, and then you press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac to look at the after and you go. Well I'm getting there, but I'm not done. Then you would undo your modification.

You would go back into Liquify and you would see that you lost all your settings. It doesn't go ahead and bring up your last settings and there's no way to do it by option clicking on a button here or there or anything like that, what you have to do is save your settings in advance which we've done and then you click on Load Mesh in order to load and backup. Then I would say my Liquify settings, I will load those back up and now I can continue to work on the settings or I could go ahead load some even better settings that I've saved in advance here. I'll click on Load Mesh.

These guys are here, Head upright.msh. These were the last best last settings that I came up with. I'll click on Open and I end up getting this effect right here. Pretty darn nice. All right, so I'm going to go ahead and scroll the image downwards so that we can see what it looks like. Good. I'll go ahead and click on OK in order to apply that modification. All right, so this is the before version of the image, the frumpy version as it shall henceforth be known and this is the after version so much better in terms of posture don't you think. Thanks to the power of feature # 29 Liquify, here inside Photoshop.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop Top 40 .

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Q: Is there a way to batch convert an entire folder of photos from the RBG color mode to the CMYK color mode without having to open and convert each individual image?
A: In the Actions panel in Photoshop, create an action that converts an image from RGB to CMYK. Then link to that action from File > Automate > Batch inside Photoshop.
Next, in the Bridge, select a folder of images. Choose Tools > Photoshop > Batch. Select the action inside the ensuing dialog box.
Or, in Photoshop, select File > Automate > Batch, and select the action and the folder inside the dialog box.
See also: Photoshop CS2 Actions & Automation, Chapter 2 “Action Essentials.”
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