advanced photoshop

Tool focus preview: Liquify tool

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Magazine previews, by Julie Bassett

Explore the professional abilities of Photoshop’s underrated, creative warping filter

The Liquify filter gets a bad reputation for producing cheesy and unrealistic effects, which explains why many digital users are sceptical about its application in their workflow. However, it can seriously benefit retouch techniques, as well as excel in photo illustration projects when used effectively, as we will show you over these two pages.

The Liquify tool’s dialog box has a list of tools down the left-hand side and your properties for these tools on the right. The toolbar is where you select different tools for many effects, whereas the main panel contains their variables, which are split into four sections: brushes, reconstruction, masking and image viewing. Once you understand what each of these does, you’ll learn that coupling them with the filter’s tools makes for better results.

First, Tool Options includes all brush values, which will affect the strengths of your tool effects. Brush Size is obvious, with Brush Density working much like the Hardness slider in standard brushes. Brush Pressure works with opacity, as Brush Density controls the speed that distortion is applied. The Turbulent Jitter value determines the random spread of your effect. Understanding the value of these core brushes will make it much clearer what you can, can’t and should do with the tools in your toolbar.

Each tool has a definable visual result, but putting these into a context will make their usefulness more apparent. For example, the Mirror, Turbulence and Twirl tools all seem constrained individually. But apply them together and creating fun water-reflected skylines is feasible, as well as painterly effects, for example.

Read more in Advanced Photoshop 96, on sale now.

Tool focus preview: Liquify tool