HOW TO RETOUCH: Pt. 2 Liquify & Removing Something from your Photo – Photoshop Tutorial

In this part 2 of the “HOW TO RETOUCH” series I will focus on making any big “pixel pushing” changes to my image before we do anything else in terms of skin retouching, tonal adjustments, sharpening, or dodging and burning. We will cover using Liquify on a Smart Object non-destructively and also removing a large object from the background of the image as non-destructively as we can. This tutorial builds the foundation which we’ll build off of in the next 10 tutorials, check it out!

See All 12 Parts!

1. What We Want To Do

how-to-retouch-liquify-background-01 In part 1 of the “HOW TO RETOUCH” tutorial series we talked about opening our image as a Smart Object and this allows us to apply smart filters like Liquify or Lens Correction and they will be non-destructive! I want to liquify this image and push her hair out a little bit and also slim her hips a little bit. Typically I like to create a new layer above my Smart Object and use the Brush tool (B) and circle areas that I want to change with Liquify.

2. Working With Liquify

how-to-retouch-liquify-background-02 Once you know what you’re doing, shut off the top layer to make all the markings go away and select the Smart Object layer and go Filter>Liquify. I like to use the Forward Warp tool initially most of the time. The trick with this tool is that you want the brush area to be larger than whatever you’re pushing or pulling with it. I’ll use my square bracket keys ( [ & ] ) to make the brush tip larger or smaller. In the screenshot I have pushed her hips inward just a little and tweaked her sides as we had marked with our brush tool earlier.

3. 16-Bit Liquify Bright Box Glitch

how-to-retouch-liquify-background-03 For some of you, you may experience an odd glitch when working with a 16-bit image and Liquify. In one of Adobe’s updates something went wrong and 16-bit images get a bright box around the liquefied area when you commit the Liquify change. To correct this problem you can convert your image to an 8-bit image or update to the latest version of Photoshop (anything newer then Photoshop CC 2015.1.1 will have that glitch fixed.)

4. Making Moves with Liquify

how-to-retouch-liquify-background-04a how-to-retouch-liquify-background-04b Jumping back into the Liquify dialog box, we can adjust her hair, but we want to be careful not to mess up her face by smashing it together or pulling it apart. We can use the very helpful Freeze Mask Tool (F) and paint over her face to “lock” those pixels and prevent us from shifting them when we use the Forward Warp tool. Use the Forward Warp tool to push and pull the hair as we wish. Check out the full tutorial at the top of this written post to see all the detail and watch exactly how I execute all of these steps and SO much more!