Tips and Tricks for the Liquify Tool in Photoshop

On this video tutorial, Aaron Nace from Phlearn gives some useful (ethical) tips and tricks for using the liquify filter in Photoshop.

The liquify tool in Photoshop is a powerful tool, however, it is one that got possibly the most amount of “fire” when it comes to unethical use of the software especially when retouching models (using it for making unrealistic looking figures of models, etc.). Nace is very aware of this and suggests being very careful about what and how you use this tool for. One useful application suggested by Nace is fixing clothing (wrinkled or otherwise) using the Liquify tool.

Let’s dive in. When possible always try and work non-destructively so start by converting your image into a smart object. Possibly the most used (and useful) Liquify filter is the Forward Warp Tool – this tool is a brush that is used to push or pull pixels. The key point in using this tool is minimalism. Overuse it and you are likely to get an unrealistic mess on your hands (unless this is the look you are going for of course).

Use larger brushes instead of smaller ones and always remember that if you use it over edges it will liquify your background as well so be careful and use the larger brushes and be careful around the edges of your image.

There are things which you typically not want to use the filter on and so Adobe added a built-in function that will ‘lock’ an area of an image, preventing those pixels from shifting. This is called Freeze Brush to paint over faces, arms, legs, or background to protect delicate shapes from warping.

We have looked at the liquefy tool several times in the past including a video by Nace himself “How to Use the Liquify Tool in Photoshop”, “How to Style Hair in Photoshop“, as well as “Creating a Porcelain Doll Effect in Photoshop” by Howard Pinsky.

You can find many more Photoshop video tutorials on LensVid’s Photoshop section (you can also find a lot more Phlearn videos on our special Phlearn subsection).