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Transform a portrait from pretty good to perfect with the Liquify filter

Added on Friday 19th of March 2010 03:54 am EST


Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3/CS4

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

Glance through any magazine and you may wonder if there really are that many flawless faces out there. Don’t be fooled—those perfect features are far from reality. We’ll show you how to use the Liquify filter in Photoshop to create similar high-end results that will help you improve your average portrait shots.

To help you use the Liquify filter for a portrait makeover, we’ll:

• Explain the Liquify filter options to give you a better understanding of the tool.

• Enlarge some facial features on a stock image to create more symmetrical eyes.

• Minimize some facial features on the same image by shrinking their appearance.


Using the Liquify filter, you can adjust facial features for amazing results. For example, you could adjust the size of someone’s nose or lips, open or enlarge her eyes, thin out her cheeks, or literally turn a frown upside down. And, if you’re feeling a bit punchy, you can even make someone look alien-like, as shown in Figure A. Either way, this filter offers a fun house of tools designed exclusively for image retouching or contortion, so let’s tap into it.


Get liquified

Before we start manipulating photos to create the ideal portrait, let’s begin by reviewing the Liquify filter’s tools. Launch Photoshop, open an image, and choose Filter > Liquify. Photoshop presents you with the Liquify dialog box. From this dialog box you can transform your image into a whole new entity. First, we’ll look at each tool on the left side of the dialog box and explore each one’s functionality:


• Forward Warp tool Forward Warp. This tool drags the image pixels in the same direction that you drag the brush.

• Reconstruct tool Reconstruct. This tool moves the pixels that you already warped back into place.

• Twirl Clockwise tool Twirl Clockwise. This tool spins the pixels around in a clockwise direction. You can move the tool around to create minor distortions, or you can click on one place and hold down the mouse button to create a twirling effect.

• Pucker tool Pucker. This tool pinches all of the pixels into the center of the brush area. You can drag the brush around the entire image or click on the image and hold down the mouse button to affect a specific area.

• Bloat tool Bloat. This tool, the reverse of the Pucker tool, pushes the pixels away from the center of the brush, enlarging areas of the image. As with the other tools, you can drag the brush around or just click on part of an image and hold down the mouse button to affect a specific area.

• Push Left tool Push Left. This tool moves the pixels perpendicular to the direction of your stroke. Simply drag the brush to move the pixels to the left and [option]-drag ([Alt]-drag in Windows) the brush to move the pixels to the right.

• Mirror tool Mirror. This tool reflects the area perpendicular to the stroke of the brush. If you want to reflect the area in the direction opposite of the stroke, [option]-drag ([Alt]-drag in Windows) the brush.

• Turbulence tool Turbulence. This tool jumbles up pixels, but leaves a smooth effect. You can use it to create special effects such as clouds or waves.

• Freeze tool Freeze. This tool allows you to mask areas of y...


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