171. "Melt" an Image
99 Move, Resize, Skew, or Distort a Layer
184 Bend Text
If you want to give parts of an image a Salvador Dali lookthe famous artist who loved melting clocks, violins, and other household objects, surreal, almost faceless people, and leafless, lonely treesthe Editor provides you with the Liquify filter. With the tools the filter provides, you can paint various warp effects directly onto an image, swirling, pushing, and pulling pixels in any direction. That way, you can liquefy small areas of an image, or the entire image if you like.
The Liquify tools include Warp (pushes pixels in the direction you drag), Turbulence (slowly mixes up the pixels under the brush tip), Twirl Clockwise (rotates pixels clockwise around the center of the brush), Twirl Counter-Clockwise (the opposite of Twirl Clockwise), Pucker (pulls pixels inward), Bloat (the opposite of Pucker), Shift Pixels (pushes pixels in a direction that's perpendicular to the direction in which you drag), Reflection (copies pixels to the left or below the brush tip, to the place under the brush tip, creating a reflection), and Reconstruct (removes the Liquify filter's effect if it has not yet been applied, a little at a time, based on how long you hold the brush over a spot).
There are many other distortion filters you can try, such as Wave, Glass, Ocean Ripple, and Shear; you'll find them on the Filter, Distort submenu. The filters work on a selection or a layer. In addition, you can have fun with the Smudge tool on the Toolbox, which acts like a finger smearing pixels of paint.
Choose Filter, Distort, Liquify
Open an image in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. In the Layers palette, select the layer you want to warp. You can limit the effect to a specific area by making a selection on the chosen layer first. Choose Filter, Distort, Liquify from the menu. The Liquify dialog box appears.
To zoom in on the image, click the Zoom tool in the toolbox and click the image. To zoom back out, press Alt as you click the image with the Zoom tool. You can also select a zoom level from the list box in the lower-left corner of the dialog box. Drag with the Hand tool to scroll the image.
Select a Tool
Click a tool from the toolbox on the left side of the Liquify dialog box.
In the Tool Options pane on the right side of the dialog box, adjust the Brush Size for the chosen tool as desired. To make changes gradually, lower the Brush Pressure. To make changes more rapidly, increase the Brush Pressure. If you're using a pen tablet, enable the Stylus Pressure option.
To increase the smoothness of the blending effect caused by the Turbulence tool, raise the Turbulence Jitter in the Tool Options pane.
Liquify Layer or Selection and Click OK
Position the brush over an area and click. The effect gets stronger the longer you hold the brush over the same area. With some tools, you must drag with the brush to liquefy. Change from tool to tool to apply different liquefy effects as desired.
The Shift Pixels tool normally pushes pixels to the left or downward; press Alt as you drag to push pixels right or upward.
The Reflection tool normally copies pixels to the left or below the brush; press Alt as you drag to copy pixels to the right or above the brush tip.
You can also use the Liquify filter to warp text, but the text layer must be simplified (changed to raster text) first. Select the text layer from the Layers palette and choose Layer, Simplify Layer to convert the text from vector data to raster (bitmapped) data that can then be liquefied.
When you've warped the image as you like, click OK to accept your changes. To abort your changes and close the Liquify dialog box, click Cancel. To abort your changes and keep the Liquify dialog box open so that you can try again, click Revert.
View the Result
After you're satisfied with the result, make any other changes you want and save the PSD file. Then resave the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers (if any) intact so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want.
This photo of my daughter playing on a mound of snow after a recent blizzard was wonderful, but the snow was so white and bright that the background was a bit featureless. A few minutes with the Liquify filter helped me spark up the background and create an interesting portrait. I refrained from using any of the tools on her face so that she would be easy to distinguish from her liquid surroundings, although you can apply the tools on a face just as easily as you can a tree branch. Look for this image in the Color Gallery.