Distorting with the Liquify command

'J Photoshop 6 introduces the Liquify command, which offers boundless opportuni ties for image distortion. With Liquify, you can drag in your image to warp, shift, twirl, expand, contract, and even copy pixels. Unlike filters, which apply a uniform distortion across a selection, Liquify enables you to distort pixels by pushing them around with a brush.

You might expect to find Liquify on the Filter menu, but those expectations are wrong. This command instead appears on the Image menu. When you choose the command, Photoshop displays the immense Liquify image window shown in Figure 11-40, which tops even the Extract window (explored in Chapter 9) in terms of icons and options. You also can display the Liquify window by pressing Ctrl+Shift+X.

Distortion tools

Brush cursor

Distortion tools

Brush cursor

Liquify Filter Pinch Icon
Figure 11-40: Choose Image ^ Liquify to shove pixels around in your image by dragging them with a brush.

The miniature toolbox on the left side of the window contains seven tools for distorting the image. You drag or click with the tools as explained in the upcoming list. (You can select the tools from the keyboard by pressing the keys indicated in parentheses). But before you begin, take in the following Liquify facts:

♦ All tools respond to the Brush Size setting on the right side of the window. Press the right and left bracket keys to raise and lower the brush size from the keyboard by one pixel. Your cursor reflects the approximate brush size, as shown in Figure 11-40. Note, however, that most distortions affect the pixels at the center of the cursor more quickly than those on the perimeter.

♦ The Brush Pressure option controls the impact of the tools; higher values produce more pronounced effects. If you work with a pressure-sensitive tablet, select the Stylus Pressure check box to make Photoshop adjust the tool pressure based on the amount of pressure you put on the pen stylus.

♦ To speed up the performance of the Liquify filter, Photoshop distorts the image in the dialog box using screen-resolution data. When you click OK or press Enter, the program applies the warp to the full resolution image. Unfortunately, this design means that you can't zoom in or out on your image in the Liquify window. So if you need to get a closer look at your image, exit the dialog box and select the area you want to alter. Photoshop then displays only the selected area at a larger size inside the Liquify window.

♦ Any deselected areas are considered frozen, which just means that they're unaffected by the distortion tools. You can freeze and then thaw — make available for editing — portions of the image as explained in the next section. You can even create partially frozen or thawed areas, which further limits the impact of the distortion tools.

♦ By default, frozen regions are covered with a red translucent coating, just like masked areas in the quick mask mode. (The coating appears around the coin in Figure 11-40.) You can change the appearance of the overlay by selecting a new color from the Freeze Color pop-up menu at the bottom of the Liquify window. If you don't want to see the coating at all, deselect the Show Frozen Areas check box.

♦ Select the Show Mesh check box to display gridlines on top of the image. You can use the gridlines as a guide if you want to apply very precise distortions. If you want, you can even apply your distortions while viewing only the grid by deselecting the Show Image check box. Set the grid size and color by selecting options from the Mesh Size and Mesh Color pop-up menus.

The next section goes into more detail about freezing and thawing image areas as well as how to reconstruct the original image or a distortion. But because I can see that you're itching to start mucking around in your pixels, the following list shows you how the distortion tools work:

Warp tool (W): Drag to shove the pixels under your cursor around the

. image. In the top right example in Figure 11-41,1 used a small brush at

100 percent pressure and dragged slightly upward on the corner of Miss Liberty's mouth, giving the icon a slight smile — or is that a smirk?

■v^:. Twirl clockwise (R): Click or drag to spin pixels under your cursor in a

" clockwise direction or, if you prefer, to the right. In the lower left example of Figure 11-41, I centered my brush on Miss Liberty's eye and moused down for a few seconds until I got the result you see in the figure.

Original Warp

Original Warp

Figure 11-41: Here, you see the distortions I achieved by using the warp, twirl clockwise, pucker, and bloat tools inside the Liquify window.

: ;■-■/■ Twirl counterclockwise (L): The opposite of twirl clockwise, this tool "'■■'' spins pixels counterclockwise (left).

Pucker (P): Drag with this tool to send pixels scurrying toward the center * of the tool cursor. The effect is similar to applying the Pinch filter with a positive Amount value. If you mouse down instead of dragging, Photoshop steadily increases the extent of the distortion until you release the mouse button.

Bloat (B): When you drag or mouse down with this tool, pixels under v neath the brush cursor move outward, like a stomach after too many trips to the buffet line. As is the case with Pucker, the longer you hold down the mouse button, the more bloating you get.

To create the lower-right example in Figure 11-41, I moused down with the pucker tool over the mouth area and then moused down again on the eye area, this time with the bloat tool.

Shift pixels (S): As you drag with this tool, pixels underneath the cursor :: ::: move in a direction perpendicular to your drag. For example, if you drag down, pixels flow to the right. Drag straight up, and pixels move to the left.

T-r/, Reflection (M): The M, it appears, stands for mirror; dragging with this ^ tool creates a reflection, albeit one you might see in a funhouse mirror. As you drag, Photoshop copies pixels from the area perpendicular to the direction you move the cursor. So if you drag down, you clone pixels to the left of the cursor onto the area underneath the cursor.

Tip Theoretically, you can create a mirror image of an object by using this tool. But unless you're really going for a distorted mirror image, duplicate and flip it using the ordinary Duplicate and Flip commands. Dragging with the Reflection tool is too unpredictable for this purpose (remember, this is a tool intended to distort, not duplicate). You can, however, limit the distortion by freezing the area that you're going to copy, as explained in the next section. Then Alt-drag from the edge of the frozen area into the unfrozen region.

After you drag with any of these tools, you can undo the effect by pressing Ctrl+Z. If you want to go further back in time or explore some additional reversion options, read the next section.

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Photoshop Secrets

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