The Liquify Tool is great for smoothing out clothing and hair, but it can be easy to end up with an overdone, unrealistic effect. Learn how to apply the Liquify Tool in subtle ways that make a big impact on your images! And get helpful tips to work non-destructively and avoid liquifying areas of a photo that you don’t want to warp.
If you want to learn even more about the Liquify Tool and professional retouching, check out our PRO tutorial Master Retouching Hair. We show you a wide variety of powerful techniques that will take your retouching skills to the next level and beyond!
Liquify Filter & Smart Objects In Liquify Tool
You know that we always preach the value of working non-destructively–that is, working in a way that allows you to remove any edits or adjustments at any time or go back to your original, unedited image.
Converting an image to a Smart Object is the best way to ensure you don’t permanently change the original pixel information of a photo. As a Smart Object, you can apply Smart Filters which can be disabled, adjusted, or removed at any time!
This is perfect for the Liquify Filter, as it allows us to Liquify as much or as little as we need to without ever having to worry about making permanent changes.
Forward Warp Tool & Brush Size
The go-to tool within the Liquify Filter is the Forward Warp Tool. How does it work? It’s a brush that allows you to ‘push’ and ‘pull’ the pixels that you paint over. It seems simple, but it can be very easy to overdo the effect or create unrealistic shapes in an image.
To avoid unwanted effects, we recommend always working with a brush size that is about the same size as the area you’re working with. And, in general, it’s best to aim for larger brushes than smaller brushes. Remember, painting over the edges of your subject with the Liquify Tool will also warp the background. Larger brushes will make it easier to hide and compensate for changes to the background.
Short, concentrated brush strokes are much harder to blend into an image. Keep the brush large and you should be good to go!
The Reconstruct Brush and Reconstruct dialog might be the best parts of the Liquify Filter. Think of Reconstruct as a flexible undo option. Did you liquify too much, but don’t want to undo everything and start from scratch? Use the Reconstruct Brush to paint over that area and it will gradually undo the changes, allowing you to dial in the effect.
Freeze & Thaw
Some things were not meant to be liquified. Take faces for example. Chances are if you accidentally liquify part of a person’s face, the changes will be extremely noticeable and unflattering to the subject. Fortunately, the Liquify Filter has a built-in tool that will ‘lock’ an area of an image, preventing those pixels from shifting.
Use the Freeze Brush to paint over faces, limbs, or background elements to protect delicate shapes from warping.
Give a person a new look by changing eyes, mouth, and other facial features with Face-Aware Liquify Tool in Photoshop CC.
Use Face-Aware Liquify to change a person’s face
Face-Aware Liquify in Photoshop automatically detects facial features and helps you adjust them to enhance a portrait or add creative character to a fun shot.
In the sample image, we’ll exaggerate this man’s surprised expression by adjusting his eyes, mouth, and other facial features.
Open an image
Open an image in Photoshop, and select a layer that contains a photo of a face.
Optional: If you want the flexibility to re-open this face in Liquify later to make further adjustments, right-click or control-click the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object before opening it in Liquify this time.
Go to Filter > Liquify… to open the photo in the Liquify window.
Enlarge the eyes
In the Liquify window, click the triangle to the left of Face-Aware Liquify.
Tip: If there is more than one face in a photo, go the Select Face menu in Liquify and choose the face to adjust.
Click the triangle to the left of Eyes to reveal sliders that affect just the eyes. Drag those sliders to adjust the size, height, width, tilt and/or distance of the eyes until you get a look you like.
Alternatively, you can make adjustments by clicking and dragging directly on facial features in Face-Aware Liquify.
Select the Face Tool in the Toolbar on the left side of the Liquify window.
To adjust the size of the eyes, hover over one of the eyes in the photo until your cursor changes to a double-pointed diagonal arrow. Then click, hold, and drag outward to increase the size of both eyes.
Tip: As you hover over a facial feature, on-image icons and tooltips appear to let you know which feature and property will change.
Adjust the shape of the nose
Click the triangle to the left of Nose to view sliders you can use to change the shape of the nose.
Drag the Nose Height slider to the left to elongate the nose. Drag the Nose Width slider to the left to narrow the nose.
Widen the smile
To access sliders for adjusting the mouth area, click the triangle to the left of Mouth.
Drag the Smile slider to the right to increase the man’s smile.
Drag the Lower Lip slider to the left to make the lower lip thicker. Drag the Mouth Width slider to the right to expand the mouth horizontally. Drag the Mouth Height slider to the right to expand the mouth vertically.
Enlongate the face
To change the shape of the man’s face, click the Face Shape triangle. Drag the Forehead Height slider to the right to make the forehead taller. Drag the Jawline slider to the right to expand the jaw. Drag the Face Width slider to the left to contract the width of the face.
To also change non-facial parts of the photo, like the man’s shoulder in this photo, you can use other tools from the Toolbar on the left side of the Liquify window.
Close Liquify and Save
Click OK to close the Liquify window.
Chose File > Save to save the photo with the changes you made with Face-Aware Liquify.
Give Face-Aware Liquify a try to get creative with your fun shots and polish your more serious portraits.