The Photoshop team has made a significant number of enhancements to the Liquify feature over the years. In Photoshop CS6, they added larger brushes, faster performance (by doing the calculations on the GPU instead of the CPU) and the ability to load the last created Mesh (so that you can apply it to multiple layers or documents). But the icing on the cake happened in Photoshop CC when they made Liquify a nondestructive filter by enabling it as a Smart Filter. This means that not only can you re-edit the filter at any time, but you have access to the Smart Filter mask to selectively show and hide the filter, the Smart Filter Blend Modes and Opacity options and, since you can create a smart object from multiple layers, you can now apply Liquify to all of those layers at once. This video will show you how:
In addition (since the video above was created), Photoshop also added the Smooth tool to help “smooth out” the mesh when moving a portion of the image using many small warps. In the past, many small strokes applied to the mesh could result in scallops or discontinuities in the warp. The Smooth Tool will remove the scallops but leave the overall warp undisturbed. I think of it as if the Smooth tool runs a Gaussian filter over the warp mesh vectors. Note: to view the mesh, check Advanced Mode, then under View Options check Show Mesh.
Another new addition is the ability to “Pin Edges” when using Liquify. This can help eliminate any gaps near the edge of the file when warping the image. The video below shows a quick demonstration:
And don’t forget you can also apply Liquify to a video layer if you convert the video to a Smart Object first.
In addition, here are a few shortcuts when working with Liquify:
• “W” – Forward Warp tool
• “R” – Reconstruct tool
• “C” – Twirl Clockwise tool
• “S” – Pucker tool
• “B” – Bloat tool
• “O” – Push Left tool
• “F” – Freeze Mask tool
• “D” – Thaw Mask tool
• “H” – Hand tool
• “Z” – Zoom tool
In addition, Option + (Mac) | Alt + (Win) toggles between the:
• The Twirl Clockwise and Twirl Counter Clockwise tools
• The Pucker and Bloat tools
• The Freeze Mask and Thaw Mask tools
And, when working with the Push Left tool, clicking and dragging up pushes the content under the brush to the left. Dragging down pushes the content to the right.
If you have an active selection in your image and choose Filter > Liquify, the Liquify filter will automatically turn the selection into a mask allowing you to manipulate the area within the original selection while masking (or freezing) the unselected area. If you need to manipulate the area outside of the original selection (instead of the inside), in the Liquify dialog, be sure to have the Advanced Options showing and click the “Invert All” button under the Mask Options.
Control + Option-drag (Mac), Right click + Alt-drag (Win) resizes your brush in Liquify. Depending on the size of the change needed, this shortcut might be much faster than using the left and right brackets
With the Brush Size, Density or Pressure or Turbulent text entree box targeted, use the Down/Up Arrow or Left/Right Arrow keys in order to decrease/increase brush size by 2, (or density, pressure, rate, or turbulent jitter by 1). Add the Shift key to decrease/increase the values by 10.
Clicking and dragging up with the Push Left tool pushes the content under the brush to the left. Dragging down pushes the content to the right. Dragging up with the Mirror tool will sample information from the left of the brush, dragging down will sample from the right.
Here are the shortcuts for the Liquify tool:
Forward Warp tool W
Reconstruct tool R
Twirl Clockwise tool C
Pucker tool S
Bloat tool B
Push Left tool O
Mirror tool M
Turbulence tool T
Freeze Mask tool F
Thaw Mask tool D