Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Imagine the photo you're working on in Photoshop is not a photograph but a painting. A real life painting sitting in front of you. One that you can touch with your hands, and one where the paint is not yet dry. So, you can actually smear the image around if you wanted to. That's exactly the sort of capabilities we have with the Liquify filter in Photoshop. Let's take a look at how we can use this very interesting filter. I'm going to start by creating a copy of my background image layer. So, I'll drag the thumbnail for that layer down to the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel, and then I'll go to the Filter menu and choose Liquify. That will bring up the Liquify filter dialog as you can see here. And at a very basic level we can use the Warp tool that's the finger icon you see here on the toolbar, and this one allows us to literally smear the paint around. We can adjust the brush size if we'd like using the control over on the far right side or using the left and right square bracket keys on the keyboard. I'll go ahead and keep the brush size moderately small, and then I can simply paint across the image to smear that liquid paint. I'll go ahead and click and drag, and you'll notice it's like I'm dragging my finger around the image taking the paint with me to some extent so that we get this smeared sort of warped effect.
In addition, we have a Pucker tool, and this one's interesting in that we don't really necessarily need to paint. We can click and hold the mouse, and that area of the image will get smaller and smaller, it's puckering inward essentially. I'll go ahead and zoom in a little bit so we can see that effect a little better. And clicking and holding once again, as long as I'm holding that area will continue to pucker inward. The opposite of that is the Bloat tool. So, if I choose that tool next and then click in a nearby area, you'll see that it has essentially the opposite effect, it's spreading out those pixels.
And of course, I could paint across the photo and the speed with which I paint determines how bloated or how puckered areas are going to get. I can hesitate in one spot, for example, to make that area bloat or pucker a little bit more. Or I can move relatively quickly to have less of an effect as I'm painting. We also have the Push option, it's a push left option by default, but that actually can be variable based on the direction we paint. If I paint upward you'll notice that the pixels get pushed over toward the left, if I paint downward the pixels get pulled over toward the right.
If I paint to the left the pixels get pushed downward, and if I paint to the right the pixels get pushed upward. So, a little bit of variable behavior depending on which direction we're painting. In addition to these tools, there are a couple of other options available in the Advance Mode. I'll turn on the Advance Mode check box, and that will bring up some additional controls, one of which is the Twirl tool. I'll go ahead and choose that tool from the toolbar on the left. And now if I paint on the image, once again click and hold, and I'll get a twirl effect. And if I paint, that twirl effect will follow my brush, and the speed will determine how much of that twirling effect is going to be evident in the areas that I'm painting over.
So, anytime I pause that twirl effect will continue, so I can create these little spiral twirl areas within the image. We can also work on selective areas of the photo if we'd like to. I'm going to click the Restore All button over on the right hand side, so that we can reset the image here, and then I'll choose the Freeze Mask button from the toolbar. And this allows me to freeze specific areas of the image. In other words, to have them not be affected by the various warping tools. I'll just paint an area here for example, and then I'll select the Warp tool for example, and just paint across the image, and so we see that warping effect.
But when I paint across the area that's been frozen, you'll see that we don't get any effect in that portion of the image. So, we're able to protect specific areas of the image. Such as protecting a key subject if we'd like to while impacting any other areas that are not protected. The Fall Mask button is essentially an eraser for that masking. And so I can erase portions of areas that I had protected in order to enable the warping of those areas. I'll go ahead and paint across this image, now and you can see the areas covered with red.
The areas that are masked are not being affected whereas any areas not covered with that red mask are being affected. If you'd like to get a sense of what's going on in the image, you can also turn on a Mesh, and that shows us a grid pattern that indicates the shape of the warp that we're applying to our photo. So, that can sometimes be interesting. We can also reveal the underlying image. If we turn on Show Backdrop, we can adjust the Opacity, revealing the original image in place of the warped image. But of course we can also adjust the Opacity of the background copy layer that we're working on after we're finished with the Liquify filter.
I'll go ahead and turn off that Mesh. There are some other options available here, for example, the ability to save a mesh, and then load that mesh for another image. But generally speaking I'll just work with the various Warp tools on the toolbar. I do tend to leave the Advance Mode check box turned on, so that I have access to that Twirl tool, just in case I want that. I'll go ahead and click Restore All in order to get back to the original image, and I'll also click the None option for Mask to get rid of the Mask. Then I'll zoom out on the image, and I'll just paint a few sweeps of the Warp tool here just to kind of add an interesting element to the photo.
And maybe I'll add a few twirls here and there for areas that don't have quite as much texture. Mostly, to be honest, I'm just having a little bit of fun at the moment, but that's half the idea of the Liquify filter, I think, is just having fun, creating interesting effects for the image. But any time, if you decide that you're not happy with a particular effect that you've painted into the image, you can also use the Reconstruct tool. This essentially erases the effect, so if I decide that these little twirls are not all that interesting, I can simply paint over those areas.
And the effect, once again, builds up over time. So, I need to paint over the area for a duration of time in order to eliminate the entire effect. But that also means that I can just tone down the effect a little bit if I want to. Just by painting for a very short duration in a particular area for example. So, you can see there are all sorts of possibilities for liquefying your image and warping various areas of it to create interesting textures and patterns. I tend to use this filter when I'm working with an image that simply has a pattern, a texture to it. Rather than a photograph of an actual subject but, that said you can certainly put this tool to use in a variety of different photographs. It can be a lot of fun to play with and I think it's definitely one of those filters where experimentation can certainly pay off. And of course, once you're happy with the result, you can click the OK button in order to finalize that effect.
And as I mentioned, you can also reduce the Opacity for the background copy layer to blend the Liquify version with the original image, and apply all sorts of other adjustments and filters as well, if you'd like to.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
164 Video lessons · 54371 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 86324 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 55725 Viewers
148 Video lessons · 93082 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.