Liquify Tool in Photoshop (Basics)

Everyone knows how powerful Photoshop is in manipulating images and graphics. There is so much depth to it that it would take a long time of dedication and trial and error to become really familiar with all that it is capable of.

In this post I will introduce one of the tools that can be used to change the shape of a particular object, and was one of the techniques I used to change the following first image to the second. It is actually one of the more complex Photoshop tools and takes some getting used to.

Overview

With any document open, go to Filters > Liquefy. The following screen will pop up.

Liquify screen

On the left toolbar are the many actions that can be done in Liquify. From top to bottom, these are Forward Warp, Reconstruct, Twirl Clockwise, Pucker, Bloat, Push Left, Mirror, Turbulence, Freeze Mask, Thaw Mask, and the general Hand and Zoom. I will only be going into detail on Forward Warp, Pucker, and Bloat in this post.

Forward Warp

Forward Warp can be used to push and pull parts of an image around. This is the most common tool to use if you want to deform a particular object but still have it look like what it is. For example, with enough practice you can make a person look fatter or thinner without making the photo look too “fake”.

Fat to Thin

Forward Warping will warp all parts of the image under the cursor. In order to make the warping look natural, it is usually a good idea to make your cursor large so there won’t be sudden unnatural bumps and pits on your subject, like this.

Warp tool bumps

Pucker

Pucker will make whatever is under the cursor shrink towards the center, like a black hole sucking in whatever’s around it. This can be used to make things smaller or thinner, such as my mouth in my manipulation.

Pucker tool

Pucker needs precise control over the amount of puckering you intend to apply. Just holding down the button will end up with your subject literally disappearing.

Bloat

Bloat is, not surprisingly, the opposite of Pucker. It expands the parts under the cursor outwards, making it appear larger. This is what is used to make eyes huge and doll-like. An example in the industry today:

Though this was edited on video, the concepts are likely the same.

When using Bloat, keep your cursor size to a maximum of how large you want your final product to be. Like Pucker, precise control is needed if some measure of realism is desired in the final product.

As with most Photoshop techniques, the best way to learn is to have hands-on experience, so play around as much as you want and happy practicing!