To Liquify, or not to Liquify?

April 03, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

The Liquify Filter in Adobe Photoshop is such a fun and powerful tool! BUT, there are some important considerations to make before opening the filter...

Is the final image representing a real person?

For portrait retouching, I believe you should represent the client as they would look at their best. So, I only retouch temporary issues such as blemishes, stray hairs, etc. In this case, I only use Liquify for objects such as hair and clothes.

Ethically, transforming a person into something other than what they look like can cause misrepresentation and body image issues among viewers. In fact, some of the most epic Photoshop fails comes from the misuse of Liquify.

Photoshop Fails

Case in point, here is the infamous ad by a major brand. On the left is the overly retouched version of the model on the right:

Thigh gaps are caused by genetics and bone structure but overzealous retouchers have been behind the perpetuation of the unrealistic expectation that having a thigh gap is a sign of health and femininity.

Want to see more? Here is a blog post from shefinds.com about the above fail and more!

Is the image the basis for creative manipulation?

As artists and illustrators, we often start with an image of a real person then manipulate it to further our communication. This is where I find it perfectly okay to play with Liquify and create a whole new person. I liken this to painters who interpret their models in their paintings. 

For example, Dora Maar, who was an artist in her own right, modeled for Picasso for this painting:

The Weeping Woman, 1937 by Pablo Picasso

Girl with a Robot Earring

This brings me to my image created as an example for my Photoshop class. It's named after the Dutch master Vermeer's famous painting Girl with a Pearl Earring. Although it's not the same pose, lighting, etc. that name is the first that jumped out to me so I went with it (as an over-thinker, this was harder for me to do than it sounds!).

Girl with a Robot Earring, 2021.

Technical Information

 

  • Global edits were done in Adobe Camera Raw.
  • Once in Photoshop, I used Frequency Separation for retouching, the Liquify Filter to distort my features, the Paint Daubs Filter for the skin, and the Watercolor Filter for the rest.

Photoshop Time Lapse

Check out the time-lapse video below to see the transformation before your very eyes! 

Love this image and need it in your life? Check out my shop where you can buy this image as a Fine Art Print, Canvas Wrap, Metal Print, and more! Note: When you go to the artwork page, click on "Visit Shop" to see ALL of the available print options!


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