How to Use the Liquify Tool in Photoshop

February 21, 2013

in Before & After, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop

How to Use the Liquify Tool in Photoshop


Lumps, bumps, bulges. We all have had pictures where either you, or a client, wishes to have areas of an image modified to enhance appearance. The Liquify filter in Photoshop is a fabulous little tool for helping to eliminate some of these undesired areas in an image. Essentially, it allows you to ‘push’ or ‘move’ pixels around to manipulate the shape of something. While there are quite a few ways to use the Liquify filter, I am going to show you how to use the ‘Move Left’ and ‘Warp’ tool to achieve the same result.

“Before” Photo

I Heart Faces Using the Liquify Tool

I really liked this picture of my daughter, except for the bulge in her blousy dress at her shoulder blade. While I know it is the result of a bulge in her dress, it gave the appearance of an extremely protruding shoulder blade, so I wanted to fix it. To do this, I turned to the Liquify tool.

I Heart Faces Using the Liquify Tool

How to Remove Distracting Elements with the Liquify Filter

1. First, I duplicated the background to create a new layer (Control-J). This was NOT a necessary step, but one that I typically do to preserve the integrity of the background whenever I am making changes to a photo.

I Heart Faces Using the Liquify Tool

2. Then I selected the Liquify tool from the Filters Menu.

I Heart Faces Using the Liquify Tool

3. I selected the Move Left tool, and set my brush options (In this instance I used brush size 400, brush pressure 80).
Brush size controls the size of the brush, which determines the how much of the area is fixed. Since this is a rather small area of the photo, I kept the brush size relatively small. Brush pressure control the speed at which the changes are made. For very precise changes, you would want to use a very low pressure. In this case, used a higher brush pressure because the modifications do not require a high degree of precision.

I Heart Faces Using the Liquify Tool

4. Using the brush, I started from the top of the area that needs fixing, and swept the brush straight down, until I reached the bottom of the problem area.

I Heart Faces Using the Liquify Tool

This automatically moved those pixels to the right. [Note: If I were to sweep the brush in an upward fashion, it would move pixels to the left.]
At this point I would click OK to close the mesh and return to the layers palette.

However, I am going to show you a different method in Liquify to achieve similar results. This method works particularly well when pixels need to be moved in a less linear fashion. To do this, I would select the Warp tool . The Warp tool will move pixels in the direction you ‘push’ them.

5. I would select the Warp tool, and brush size and pressure (In this case I would use about brush size 800, brush pressure 80).

Starting with my brush just to the left of the area I want to fix, I would gently sweep to the right to push in the bulge in her shoulder. I may have to do this several times, re-positioning my brush each time. When I achieved the desired look, I would click OK.

I Heart Faces Using the Liquify Tool

6. Now, my duplicated layer reflects the image with the Liquify fix.

I Heart Faces Using the Liquify Tool

7. Click Control+Shift+E to merge the layers, and your done!

Compare the Before & After Photos


I Heart Faces Using the Liquify Tool

Melanie Weyer profile photo

Melanie Weyer is a natural light photographer in the Richmond, VA area. She owns and operates Melanie Weyer Photography, specializing in High School seniors and children. She is also the full time mother of 3.  You can follow her most recent work on Facebook.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy Bernard March 11, 2013

I have to admit, when I saw this on FB I couldn’t tell the difference betw. the before and after without reading the comments. I love Melanie’s work and was interested in anything she would advise on editing – so I clicked! And it’s funny, now when I look at the before/after I am really bothered by the bulge on the before! HA. The comparison has it just look sloppy whereas the after doesn’t change the overall look – just cleans it up a bit.

Thanks for the tutorial!

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Amy Locurto February 22, 2013

I love this tool. Thanks for the great lesson!

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