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How to Use the Options from the Liquify Window in Photoshop CS6

On the right side of the Liquify window in Photoshop CS6, you can find some menus and buttons that let you specify options for the tools, for reconstructing and freezing, and for viewing. Here is an introduction to these tools:

  • Load Mesh, Load Last Mesh and Save Mesh: Liquify lets you show or hide a crisscross area called a mesh. The mesh provides a visual map of the distortions you’ve applied. The mesh starts out as a square grid and changes while you apply distortions.

    The mesh lets you clearly see exactly what you’ve done to the image and, even better, provides a way to save those distortions on your hard drive so that you can load and reapply them to the same (or a different) image later.

    [Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/NinaMalyna Image #6845747]
    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/NinaMalyna Image #6845747
  • Tool Options: You can use the Tool Options area to apply parameters to the painting tools.

    • Brush Size: Specifies the width of the brush from 1 to a whopping 15,000 pixels. You can now also increase or decrease the brush size by 2 pixels at a time by using Ctrl (Command on the Mac)+] and Ctrl (Command on the Mac)+[, respectively. Increase the brush size by 20 pixels at a time by also holding down the Shift key along with Ctrl (Command on the Mac).

    • Brush Density: Specifies how fast the brush effect levels off at its edges.

    • Brush Pressure: Specifies the speed at which you distort while you drag. Lower is slower.

    • Brush Rate: Specifies the speed at which you distort while you keep a tool, such as the Twirl tool, stationary. Again, lower is slower.

    If you have a pressure-sensitive stylus tablet, you can also choose to use the amount of pressure you apply to control the width of your brush stroke.

  • Reconstruct Options: Here, you can select one of two Reconstruct modes. Reconstruct and Restore All buttons let you reverse all changes made on unfrozen areas (a little at a time) or revert to your last set of distortions.

  • Mask Options: Consider freezing and masking one and the same when you’re immersed in the Liquify dialog box. The mask options let you freeze areas from existing selections, layer masks, transparent areas, or alpha channels in your image.

    You can also invert the frozen area (thawing frozen portions of the image and freezing the previously thawed areas), and thaw all the areas that were frozen with one click.

    • Replace Selection: Allows you to freeze or mask areas of your image based on an existing selection, transparent area, alpha channel, or layer mask.

    • Add to Selection: Displays the mask in the image and then enables you to add to the frozen areas by using the Freeze tool. Adds pixels to the currently frozen areas.

    • Subtract from Selection: Subtracts pixels from the currently frozen areas.

    • Intersect with Selection: Masks only those pixels that are selected and currently frozen.

    • Invert Selection: Inverts selected pixels and currently frozen areas.

      Click None to remove frozen areas. Click Mask All to freeze the entire image. Click Invert All to exchange frozen and thawed areas.

  • View Options: You can show or hide frozen (masked) areas, the mesh, or the image. Also, if you select the Show Mesh option, you can select the mesh size and color. If you select the Show Mask option, you can select the color that indicates frozen areas.

Finally, you can also apply a backdrop that shows how the image being liquified will appear when merged with other layers. To view your distorted image along with other layers, select the Show Backdrop option and then select the particular layer you want to view, or select All Layers from the Use drop-down menu (pop-up menu on the Mac).

You can now choose whether you want the backdrop in front, behind, or blended with the distorted image. Specify an opacity percentage for the displayed layers so they won’t obliterate the image being distorted. The default (50%) allows you to see both your image and layers well so that you can keep track of your distortions.

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