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How to Use Pixelmator's Liquify Tools to Make an Eye Popping Portrait

This post is part of a series called Introduction to Pixelmator.
How to Work With Layers in Pixelmator
How to Use the Type Tool in Pixelmator
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Pixelmator is an easy-to-use, fast, and powerful image editing app for the Mac. In this tutorial, I will show you how to use the Liquify Tools in Pixelmator. Let's get started!

Tutorial Assets

The following photo was used in this tutorial. Feel free to follow along using any photo you like.

1. The Warp Tool

Step 1

Let's dive right into the action with the Warp Tool. On the Tools Palette, there is a section for the Liquify Tools. Click and hold the mouse button on the Liquify Tools and select the Warp Tool from the drop down list. 

Step 2

The Warp Tool is the tool that a lot of photo-editors use to adjust the body-curves of models so they look better than in reality. Some editors go so far that the models are all out of proportion. And that’s exactly what we are going to do with the warp tool on this guy.

In the Tool Options Bar we can see that the warp tool has two settings. The diameter of the brush, which is always round, and the strength of the warp effect. The diameter of the brush depends on the size of the image and the size of the features you want to adjust.

You can see the strength as the strength in which you are pushing the pixels around. The default is 50% which will do fine in most situations. Use less strength for adjusting small details and a higher setting for the bigger work. 

Duplicate the original background layer. We will work on the duplicate. In our example image we're going to use the Warp Tool to make the man's torso look smaller, by pushing the pixels on the borders of the image downwards. Here we can safely use 100% strength for the brush.

Step 3

In the same way we will make the neck thinner by pushing the pixels inward. Lower the strength and the diameter of the brush, because this is more detailed work. 

During this process you'll most likely want to adjust the collar of the suit, and some facial features like the cheekbones and the chin as well.

Step 4

Let's give him a new haircut, as well. Push the top part further down and tuck the top left and top right parts of the hair inwards. We're aiming for a younger look here. 

2. Bump Tool

The bump tool will enlarge the part of the image that is inside the brush. We're going to enlarge the eyes with this tool.

Step 1

Select the Bump Tool from the Tools Palette. The bump tool doesn't have a strength setting. Only a diameter setting. We can enlarge the part inside the brush by clicking and holding the mouse button and releasing the mouse button when we're satisfied with the result. We can also click several times to apply the enlargement. Note though, that this will quickly make the part you are enlarging unsharp. 

Step 2

Use a large diameter brush that will also cover most of the eyebrows and make sure to centre the brush in the middle of the pupils. Click and hold the mouse button and release the mouse button when the eyes are large enough. Go to the other eye and try to enlarge it equally. Use Command-Z to undo any mistakes.

The eyes will get quite round. We can use the Warp Tool in order to push the corners of the eyes more outwards. 

3. The Pinch Tool

Step 1

Pinching is, as you might have guessed, the opposite of bumping. Select the Pinch Tool from the Tools Palette and click with the brush on the nose to make it smaller. In this example I used a smaller brush that will only cover parts of the nose.

4. The Twirl Tool

Step 1

Select the Twirl Tool from the Tools Palette. The Twirl Tool moves pixels around in a rotating fashion. Again you'll see the diameter and strength settings in the Tool Options bar. By default the pixels will be rotated to counterclockwise. To make the pixels rotate clockwise we'll have to hold the Option key before clicking with the mouse. Use the Twirl Tool to rotate the corners of the mouth. 

5. The Smudge Tool

Our businessman starts to look more and more like a kid with a beard. To give him a shave would require another tutorial, but we can do something about his enlarged adams apple. 

Step 1

Select the Smudge Tool from the Liquify Section in the Tools Palette. The first thing we notice is that the Smudge Tool uses the standard Pixelmator brushes from the Brushes Palette. Click on the Brushes Button in the Tool Options bar to open the Brushes Palette and select a suitable brush shape with a suitable size and hardness. 

Step 2

The Smudge Tool smudges colors around just like you would do with a finger or a brush over wet paint. Use the Smudge Tool to cover over the adams apple of our model.

6. Sharpening

Due to all these pixels being pushed around you'll most likely have created areas that have become less sharp. Especially the eyes are unsharp and need some sharpening. 

Step 1

Pixelmator comes with a Sharpening Tool. Select it from the Tools Palette

Step 2

The settings in the Tool Options Bar for the Sharpening Tool are the same as for the Smudge Tool. The strength will determine the amount of sharpening. Keep this value low, preferable under 50%. You'll notice that every time you paint with the brush over the same area the area gets sharpened and setting the strength too high will over-sharpen such areas very quickly. Use the Sharpening Tool on the eyes and other areas of your image that need more sharpening. Also zoom in to 100% to more clearly see the effect of the sharpening. 


We're done. We've used all the Liquify Tools in order to turn our handsome looking business man in a funny looking business-kid. 

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