Adobe introduced one of the coolest features available into Photoshop back in 2016. This feature is called the Face-Aware Liquify Filter and what it can do is simply outstanding. There aren’t many tools this intuitive and powerful out there and I have to say, I’m more than impressed by it.
Basically, this filter can recognize most faces and sets them up for editing. It’s rather remarkable what it can do. Have you ever wanted to make someone’s eyes larger or smaller? Perhaps tilt them slightly, spread them apart or squeeze them closer together? Have you ever wanted to make someone smile a bit more or make them frown? What about narrow or widen someone’s face? Well, if you answered yes to any of these questions and if you have an up-to-date version of Adobe Photoshop, you’re in luck. In just a few seconds, you can pretty much do anything in regards to what I just mentioned. And the best part is, the process is so painless. Photoshop sure makes it easy.
In today’s post, I’d like to show you exactly what you’ll need to do to set a photo up inside of Adobe Photoshop to properly take advantage of this filter. Then, I’ll simply walk through many of the options contained therein. Since using the filter comes so intuitively, there’s not a lot for me to show you, but I’ll give plenty of example images to make up for that. This is going to be fun.
Today’s Demo Photo
This is the photo I’ll be using today. As you can see, it’s of a girl’s face. As I alluded to above, Photoshop does a fairly good job at recognizing faces with its technology, but those faces need to be clear of obstruction and they need to be facing the camera when captured. Anything else may give unpredictable results. I tested the filter with this face and it worked perfectly.
Converting to a Smart Object
We know by now that we don’t apply filters to layers that haven’t been converted to Smart Objects. We don’t want to do this because if we did, any changes we make to the layer will be permanent and we’ll be unable to change any edits later on. In other words, the filter will be etched in stone and that’s that. So, the very first thing I’ll do today is right-click on the thumbnail of the photo layer in the Layers panel and then I’ll click on the Convert to Smart Filter option. That will convert the layer and I won’t have anything to worry about later on.
Accessing the Face-Aware Liquify Filter Palette
Next, I’ll head up to the Filter > Liquify menu item and click.
Doing this will bring me into the Liquify palette, which is sort of overwhelming at first glance. After looking around for a bit though, it actually seems rather simple. If I look over to the right, I’ll see a few different drop-down panels indicated by small triangles. I’ll go ahead and click on the Face-Aware Liquify triangle to open up that panel. When I do that, I”ll see a few sub-panels indicated by more triangles. Currently, these sub-panels are named Eyes, Nose, Mouth and Face Shape. I can click any one of these triangles to open their respective panels and have all sorts of fun with the sliders contained therein. First though, I want to mention one other thing.
If I look over to the left of the Liquify palette, I’ll see a vertical toolbar. Inside of that toolbar is a neat little feature called the Face Tool. It’s appropriately shaped like a human head. If I click that tool and then roll over the face I’m working on, I’ll notice small white dots and/or lines appear around specific parts of the face that have been allocated to the panels on the right. For instance, I can roll my mouse over the eyes or mouth or cheeks or nose and these little white dots will appear. Take a look. This is the tool icon.
And here are some control points located around the girl’s right eye.
If I click on one of those control points and drag, I’ll make an edit to the image. I’ll also see the related slider move by itself over on the right. If I hover my mouse pointer over the eye (or mouth, nose, etc…), I can click and drag to reposition the eye itself. If this case, no slider will move by itself on the right.
If I ever go too far and royally screw something up, which actually isn’t very difficult to do, I can simply click the Reset button in the right panel to erase all of my edits and to bring me back to the beginning. I’ve used this button quite a bit as I’ve experimented with this photo for this post.
Be Careful With This Tool
While this tool is extremely intuitive and easy to use, I do have a word of warning for you. As you make subtle changes to someone’s face, you may not notice that you’re making them look very strange. This sort of thing creeps up on editors and it’s only when someone else sees what you’ve done do they ask, “What in the world???” So, my advice is to go very easy with the edits. Unless you see something that absolutely needs to be changed on someone’s face, it’s often better to leave well enough alone.
Example Face-Aware Liquify Edits
As I said, this tool is intuitive. Because of this, you’ll be able to figure it out in about ten seconds. Simply click and drag the control points on someone’s face to enlarge, shrink or twist something or click right on the feature itself and drag to reposition it. This is for when you use the Face Tool. When using the sliders, simply drag the slider back and forth to make your edits. Each slider is labeled clearly, so there won’t be any ambiguity when it comes to using them.
As you make your changes, you’ll notice that the area you’re working on will become very blurry. This is just the preview in action. When you click on the OK button down at the bottom of the palette to accept your changes, you’ll see the image become clear again with your edits applied. Let me show you what I mean. I’ve gone ahead and edited this eye. I made it as large as possible. This is the “in edit” stage while still in the palette.
This is after I’ve clicked the OK button and have exited the palette.
For this next edit, I used the Eye Distance and Eye Tilt sliders to bring the eyes closer together and to tilt them inward. This is the editing stage.
This is the photo after I’ve applied the changes.
As I said, you can dramatically change the appearance of someone, so care needs to be taken. But you can certainly see the high quality of the edit. No one would ever know that one was made, which is somewhat scary.
I’ll let you do some experimentation to get used to the power of this filter, but before I end this post, I do want to bring the Smile slider to your attention. This one is located inside of the Mouth panel. You have to see this.
I’m going to push the Smile slider to the right, so the neutral lips curve upwards into a smile. How this is accomplished, I’ll never know. This is the editing stage.
See the blur? Now here’s the final product with the girl smiling a bit more than she originally was.
Isn’t that crazy? So I could basically take a photo of someone’s face and completely transform it with this filter and the outcome will be of such a high quality that no one would be the wiser. Perhaps I could take some photos of me to make myself appear a bit happier. Nah.
Open a picture of someone and experiment with this filter. You can’t break anything, so have fun with it. And remember, when you really need it, it will be there, but be careful in the meantime.
I hope I clearly explained how to access and use the Face-Aware Liquify filter in Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions regarding this post, please ask down below or in the Adobe Photoshop discussion board. Thanks for reading!