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How to Use the Non-Painting Tools in Photoshop CS6’s Liquify Window

At first glance, the Liquify window in Photoshop CS6 is a little daunting. It’s a little daunting on second, third, and fourth glances, too. But when you quit glancing and dive into this versatile filter, you’ll find that the tools and options make a lot of sense.

In order to access Liquify’s full cadre of tools and options be sure and check the Advanced Mode option. In addition, you’ll be happy to know that Liquify got a nice performance boost in this newest version of Photoshop. Whereas there used to be lag between using the tool and seeing the result, now the two are in sync.

Like with Photoshop’s main Tools panel, you can activate each tool by pressing a letter associated with its name.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/NinaMalyna Image #6845747]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/NinaMalyna Image #6845747

The non-painting tools in the Liquify Tools panel are

  • Reconstruct (R): This tool lets you reverse or alter — completely or partially — the distortions you’ve made. You can retrace your steps if you went overboard in your warping activities.

  • Freeze Mask (F): Use this tool to protect areas from changes. It paints the frozen area with a red overlay, just like Quick Mask mode.

  • Thaw Mask (D): This tool unprotects areas by erasing the red protective “freeze” tone. This is a lot like erasing areas you’ve painted in Quick Mask mode.

  • Hand (H): The Hand tool works exactly like the standard Photoshop Hand tool. Click and drag the image to move it around within the Preview window.

  • Zoom (Z): The Zoom tool works exactly like the standard Photoshop Zoom tool. Indeed, you can also zoom in and out by using Ctrl and the plus sign (Command and the plus sign on the Mac) and Ctrl and the minus sign (Command and the minus sign on the Mac) shortcuts.

Separate from the Liquify Tools panel and in the lower-left corner of the Liquify window is a magnification box with a drop-down menu (pop-up menu on the Mac) that you can use to select magnifications from 6 percent to 1600 percent. Or, if you like buttons, click your way to magnification by using the +/– zoom control buttons.

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