How to Freeze and Thaw Image Areas in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

Liquify’s capability in Photoshop CS6 to protect areas by freezing, and unprotect areas by thawing, deserves a closer look. Consider freezing the equivalent to masking. Here’s a summary of the things you need to know:

  • The easiest way to freeze/unfreeze is to use the Freeze Mask and Thaw Mask tools to paint the areas you want to protect or unprotect. Use the brush controls to modify how either tool paints or erases. When you set brush pressure to less than 100 percent, the opacity of the mask you’re painting determines how frozen that area is.

    For example, if an area is only 25-percent frozen, using a distortion tool on that area produces only three-quarters the distortion you get in an area that’s completely thawed.

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

    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/NinaMalyna Image #6845747
  • You can use active or saved selections to define a frozen or masked area. This is a great capability; you can use all the selection tools in Photoshop to define frozen/unfrozen areas before you invoke Liquify.

    You can, for example, select a portion of your image by using the Magic Wand or Quick Selection tool, another portion by using Quick Mask mode, and then save them all (choose Selection→Save Selection) as alpha channels. Then, when you use Liquify, choose any of those saved selections, or alpha channels, to freeze an area.

  • Select the basis that you want to use for your mask from the drop-down menu (pop-up menu on the Mac) of the Replace Selection command (the far-left icon under Mask Options).

    You can also select a layer mask to define your mask. This is a great way to apply your distortions at varying degrees of intensity. Where the mask reveals more, the distortion is more prominent. Where the mask hides more, the distortion is subtler.

  • To thaw all frozen areas, click the None button in the Mask Options area.

  • To freeze all thawed areas, click the Mask All button in the Mask Options area.

  • To reverse your frozen/unfrozen areas, click the Invert All button. That which was frozen is thawed, and that which was unfrozen is frozen. Amen!