This excerpt is from Adobe Photoshop CS4 One-on-One. How can you master the fundamentals of Photoshop CS4, with all of its incredible features? Deke McClelland's proven One-on-One learning system offers step-by-step tutorials, five hours of DVD-video demonstrations, and hands-on projects to improve your knowledge and hone your skills. Read about features such as Photoshop's new Adjustments panels in the book, and see how they're used first-hand in the video. The combination is uniquely effective.
If commands like Smart Sharpen and Reduce Noise represent Photoshop's most practical filters, the award for the most powerful filter goes to Liquify. Except, it's not a filter at all. Like Camera Raw (“Correcting with Camera Raw,” page 83, Lesson 3), Liquify is an independent program that runs inside Photoshop. This particular program lets you distort an image by painting with a collection of tools. One tool stretches pixels, another twists them into a spiral, and a third pinches them. These and other tools make Liquify ideally suited to cosmetic surgery. Whether you want to tuck a tummy, slim a limb, or nip a nose, Liquify gives you everything you need to do the job.
In this exercise, we'll do something radical. We'll take a photo of my mild-mannered little boy, Sammy, and transform him from side kick into superhero, complete with square chin, rugged jaw, cocky sneer, and eyes bright with righteous anger. In all Gotham City, only one filter can aid us in this goal, and that filter is Liquify.
Pearl of Wisdom
Be forewarned: Unlike other exercises, in which my instructions are concrete and easy to replicate, these next steps are subject to more interpretation. I'll be asking you to paint—not inside lines, as in Lesson 6, but completely free-form. You don't necessarily need heaps of artistic talent, but a little doesn't hurt. And regardless of how talented you are, your results and mine will be different. Don't sweat it. Even when all you're doing is making a big mess, this is one entertaining function. In fact, I've never once demonstrated the Liquify filter—whether to a few family members or an audience of five hundred professionals—that it doesn't inspire giddy laughter. So don't be frustrated; be amused.
Example files: Gold Hero.jpg | Sammy start.jpg
Many of the same navigation techniques that work outside the Liquify window work inside it as well. You can zoom in or out by pressing Ctrl+ or Ctrl+ (⌘- or ⌘- on the Mac), respectively. Press the spacebar and drag to pan the image.
As with the other tools in Photoshop, you can change the brush size by pressing a bracket key. But the shortcut behaves a bit differently. Press the or key to scale the brush by 2 pixels. Press and hold the key to scale more quickly. Press Shift+ or to scale the brush in 20-pixel increments. (In Liquify, there is no such thing as brush hardness.)
If you make a mistake, you'll be glad to learn that Liquify offers multiple undos using the same keyboard shortcuts available elsewhere in the program. Pressing Ctrl+Z (⌘-Z on the Mac) undoes or redoes a single brushstroke. To revert multiple brushstrokes, press Ctrl+Alt+Z (⌘-Option-Z). To redo a brushstroke, press Ctrl+Shift+Z (⌘-Shift-Z).
For the present, be careful to avoid painting the eyes. We'll edit them in the next steps with a different tool.
Raise the Brush Size value to 200 pixels. Then click each of Sammy's eyes. Click quickly and do not drag. If one click doesn't do the trick, do another one. The finished eyes should look like those shown in Figure 8-32 on the facing page.
To slant the right eye (his left) in the opposite direction, you could switch to the twirl counterclockwise tool. But as it turns out, both tools do double duty. To twirl a detail opposite to the direction in which the tool usually works, press the Alt key (Option key on the Mac) and click. The results of both twirls appear in Figure 8-33.
Center your brush cursor somewhere along the hairline. Then press the Alt key (Option on the Mac) and click for a half second or more. The Alt key reverses the behavior of the tool, swelling with the pucker tool or, in our case, pinching with the bloat tool.
Continue to Alt-click (or Option-click) along the hairline until you get an effect similar to the one pictured in Figure 8-35. For the best results, move the mouse at least slightly between (not during) clicks. This varies the center of the distortion and keeps your pinches from resulting in sharp points of converging color.
Pearl of Wisdom
Unlike the other filters in Photoshop, Liquify does not remember your last-applied settings the next time you choose the command. So if you apply the filter, think better of it, undo the operation, and decide to take another stab at it, steel yourself to start the Liquify process over again from scratch. My advice: Be sure you've completely finished distorting an image before clicking the OK button. And don't even think about clicking Cancel unless you're content to trash everything you've done since you chose Filter→Liquify. If you're really in love with a distortion, you can save a wireframe mesh that reflects your brushstrokes by clicking the Save Mesh button and entering a filename. But be sure to click Save Mesh before you click OK or you will lose your mesh forever.
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