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Liquify your way to perfect portraits

Added on Friday 2nd of March 2012 05:04 am EST

by Amy Gebhardt
Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5
Operating Systems:
Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

Not every picture’s perfect but most of them have potential! Push that potential with the Liquify filter and kick your portraits up a notch.

To explore the ins and outs of portrait retouching using the Liquify filter, we’ll:

  • Enlarge features by adjusting the model’s right eye.
  • Minimize features by shrinking the model’s nose.
  • Push pixels around to enhance facial expressions.

Portrait retouching is without a doubt an art form in itself. Just glancing through a magazine, you have to wonder whether there really are that many perfect people who always photograph without flaws. The perfect smile, both eyes equally open, smooth skin—it’s rather intimidating to the average person who on occasion might say, “Now that’s a great picture of me!” Of course, with the help of Photoshop, you could potentially make every portrait taken of you or that you’ve taken of someone else look like pages in a magazine.
Using the Liquify filter, you can adjust facial features for amazing results. You can adjust the size of someone’s nose or lips, open or enlarge her eyes, thin out her cheeks, or literally turn her frown upside down. And, if you’re feeling a bit punchy, you can even make someone look a bit alien-like. Either way, this filter offers a lot of razzle-dazzle to Photoshop users, so let’s tap into it.


Part by part
To begin, open a portrait to work with, or if you want to follow along with our example, shown in Figure A, download the original image girl.jpg from the URL listed at the beginning of this article. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.) Make a copy of the file to work on by choosing Image > Duplicate. Name the new file and click OK. Now we’re ready to perform our digital face-lift.