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Liquify faces with Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo tutorial
(Image credit: James Paterson)

Watch video: Liquify faces with Affinity Photo

Editing images for comedic effect is wonderfully fun and can help you get used to some useful editing tools. In this tutorial we’ll look at how to transform a portrait, exaggerating features and enlarging the eyes to form an eye-catching caricature.

Affinity Photo’s Liquify Persona offers the tools we need for this. It lets us push, pull, expand, contract and reshape pixels in almost any way we like. Whether you need to make a subtle adjustment to the shape of a person or object, or transform a portrait like this, the Liquify Persona is the place to do it.

We’ve supplied a portrait for you to use but if you’d like to shoot your own then it’s best to place your subject against a plain backdrop, so that the backdrop won’t warp. We’ll use the Liquify tools to enlarge the eyes, bulge the forehead, slope the shoulders and stretch the nose. We’ll also make use of the Freeze and Thaw tools, which allow us to protect parts of the face while reshaping others. Once done, we’ll add a vibrant backdrop and boost the colours to finish off our over-the-top portrait, perfect for sharing on social media or as a joke for your friends.

Read more:

• Affinity Photo 1.8 review

Step 1: Enlarge the eyes

You can click on the gadget in the top right corner of these screenshots to zoom in on a full size version. (Image credit: James Paterson)
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Open the portrait into Affinity Photo and duplicate the bottom layer with Cmd/Ctrl+J, then click on the Liquify Persona at the top left. Next, grab the Liquify Pinch tool from the toolbar on the left. Using a fairly large brush, click over the eyes and nose several times to enlarge them.

Step 2: Shrink the pupils

(Image credit: James Paterson)
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The pupils look too large now, but we can shrink them back down. Grab the Freeze tool from the toolbar and paint around the edges of the irises, then use the Punch tool to make the pupils smaller without affecting the surrounding eyes. Once done, use the Thaw tool to remove the ‘frozen’ area.

Step 3:  Push and pull

(Image credit: James Paterson)
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Paint over the eyes and mouth with the Freeze tool, then use the Push Forward tool to reshape the head. Pull the forehead upwards and out to make it bigger, squeeze in the chin to narrow it down, then enlarge the cheekbones and ears. Keep reshaping until everything comes together.

Step 4: Reshape the shoulders

(Image credit: James Paterson)
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Next, we can reshape the body. Use the Push Forward tool to slope the shoulders and make the neck smaller (freeze the chin so it’s unaffected). Use a large brush tip and nudge the pixels gradually in short increments, rather than trying to push them too far in one go. Once done, hit Apply.

Step 5: Select the face

(Image credit: James Paterson)
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Grab the Selection Brush tool and check ‘Snap to Edges’ in the tool options, then paint over the subject to select it. Click the Refine button then increase the Border Width to include the edges of the hair. Set Output: Selection and hit Apply. Go to Select>Invert Pixel Selection.

Step 6: Recolour the backdrop

(Image credit: James Paterson)
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Click the Adjustment Button in the Layers panel and choose Recolour. Use the settings to recolour the backdrop, then hit Cmd/Ctrl+D to deselect. Add any final touches; we dodged and burned the face to boost the eyes and added a HDR effect using the Tone-Mapping Persona.  

Quick tip

Often used for images of politicians and movie stars, a caricature is a depiction of a person in which their most striking features are exaggerated for comic effect. So think about which features you want to exaggerate. Here, for example, our subject has striking blue eyes and a strong jaw, so it makes sense to enlarge those eyes and accentuate the jawline. 

About N-Photo magazine

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N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine is a monthly publication that's entirely dedicated to Nikon users. As a 100% independent magazine, you can be assured of unbiased opinion from a trustworthy team of devoted photography experts including editor Adam Waring (opens in new tab) and Technique Editor Mike Harris (opens in new tab)


Aimed at all users, from camera newcomers to working pros, every issue is packed with practical, Nikon-specific advice for taking better photos, in-depth reviews of Nikon-compatible gear, and inspiring projects and exciting video lessons for mastering camera, lens and Photoshop techniques.


Written by Nikon users for Nikon users, N-Photo is your one-stop shop for everything to do with cameras, lenses, tripods, bags, tips, tricks and techniques to get the most out of your photography.