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How to Use the Liquify Persona in Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo provides five dedicated workspaces to help you focus on a single editing task. They are Photo Persona, Liquify Persona, Develop Persona, Tone Mapping Persona, and Export Persona. The default workspace is Photo Persona, which gives you full access to Affinity’s tools. The others address more specific tasks such as RAW editing (Develop Persona), HDR editing (Tone Mapping Persona), artistic effects (Liquify Persona), and exporting edited images (Export Persona).

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The toolbar of the five Affinity Photo’s Personas, in order, Photo Persona, Liquify Persona, Develop Persona, Tone Mapping Persona, and Export Persona

This article is dedicated to the Liquify Persona, which provides tools for distorting photos. Liquify tools are controversial. Most of the time, they are used to adjust a person’s look based on editorial requests and this led to unhealthy and unnatural beauty standards. Liquify tools can make a person thinner or taller, increase or decrease the volume of different body parts, shape a person from head to toes. It’s what makes you look like a Barbie. And it’s what gave the term “to photoshop” bad notoriety and raise awareness on health and mental health problems issued by photo manipulation. As a result, some photographers use these tools too much and others completely overlook them. In this affinity photo manipulation tutorial, we show you how you can use the Liquify Persona. How and if you use it, is up to you.

Almost all photo editors provide more or less detailed liquify filters. Affinity Photo has chosen to create a dedicated workspace for this activity and provide refined liquify tools. It takes some time to learn to use them and some moral principles to use them for the right purposes, but Affinity Photo’s Liquify Persona is one of the best tools of its kind on the market.

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When to use the Liquify Persona

You can use liquify tools in a very subtle manner or a very obvious one. They’re helpful when you need to fix a less good photo or you want to create an artistic effect. While they’re widely used for portraits and fashion photography, liquify tools work very well with other types of photography too such as fine art, commercial, still life, and landscape photography. And the controversy is smaller when you manipulate landscapes than people.

However, no one can deny the benefits of liquifying tools in portraits. But the secret is in proportions and purpose. If you need to enlarge a person’s eyes because of an unfortunate pose, go ahead and do it. If you need to adjust a person’s hair because of a bad hair day, again, feel free to do it. But don’t create impossible beauty standards and make sure your adjustments are subtle and natural.

The Liquify Persona provides tools for pushing, pulling, rotating, bending, bloating, and distorting an image in any way you like. These tools work perfectly for creating fine art photography, atmospheric photos, and pictures that look like paintings. They provide endless paths for creativity. The Liquify Persona is something any photographer should use from time to time to broaden the horizon and create amazing photos.

The features of Affinity’s Photo Liquify Persona

Before starting editing with the Liquify Persona, decide what you want to do. Based on this, you may want to adjust the image before or after using the Liquify Persona. Usually, liquify tools change the geometry of elements, in which case is better to apply color and exposure adjustment after using the liquify tools.

To open the Liquify Persona, you can use the Personas’ toolbar from the top left or the File/Personas/Liquify menu entry.

The Liquify Persona can be accessed from the main menu as well as from the Personas toolbar

The Liquify Persona has a toolbar on the left with all the tools available. On the right, it has panels with settings for mesh and brush, color channels, masks, the histogram, and the usual Affinity Photo’s navigator and history panels. As with all Affinity’s panels, you can reconfigure the workspace and move them anywhere you want. Don’t forget about the Hand Tool and the Zoom Tool, which helps you move the photo and make it as large or small as you wish. Liquify tools require precision and a steady hand, so you’ll use them for sure. Like with all Affinity’s Personas, the menu is also limited to what you need for liquifying.

The mesh is activated by default. You can set how dense it is, the color of the grid, and the opacity. Also, you can save the mesh for later use or load one created before. If you think the effect you’ve just applied needs toggling, you can adjust the Reconstruct mesh slider from 0% (no effect) to 200% (twice as much effect).

The Brush panel allows you to set the brush’s size, hardness, opacity, speed, and shape at the edge of the brush. It’s also a panel you’ll use a lot as the brush’s parameters need to be continuously updated and adapted to each action you make.

The Brush panel allows you to set the parameters of the brush for smooth and precise effects

Liquify tools

Liquify Persona - Tools panel.jpgThe Liquify Persona provides tools for every distortion you can imagine. You have six Liquify tools: Push Forward, Push Left, Twirl, Pinch, Punch, and Turbulence. Each tool creates an amazing effect, which is cumulative. For Push Left, Twirl, Pinch, and Punch effects, the opposite effect is also available.

Liquify tools
  • Push Forward – pushes the area in the brush in the direction of the dragging
  • Push Left – pushes the area in the brush to the left or right
  • Twirl – creates a vertex effect
  • Pinch – makes the area in the brush look larger
  • Punch – makes the area in the brush look smaller
  • Turbulence – distorts the area in the brush

If you have to apply the same effect on different parts of the image, use the Mesh Clone Tool to copy the effect from one part of the mesh to another. For removing an unwanted effect, you have the Reconstruct Tool, which removes the effect from an area of your choice.

How to use masks in Liquify Persona

Applying liquifying effects on the entire image is something you’ll rarely do. Most of the time, you need to selectively apply the effects on a specific part of the image. To protect the rest of the image from distortions, use masks.

Masking tools

To apply a mask, use the Freeze Tool and define the area you want to be masked. You will see the mask on top of the image, colored in red. To remove individual masks, use the Thaw Tool, otherwise use the Clear Mask option from the Mask panel. From the same Mask panel, you can mask the entire image or invert the existing masks.

The mask prevents an area from being modified


Don’t forget that any action you take can be reversed. Affinity Photo preserves the history of your actions. Furthermore, you can compare at any time the altered image with the original one. This is extremely important for keeping the natural-looking feel of the image and avoiding over-processing. And, like will all Affinity’s Personas, you have to press Apply in order to commit the changes you’ve made. So you have an entire workspace for creativity and sensitive photo adjustments.

In conclusion

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Liquify tools aren’t easy to learn and use. Some photographers use them for mischievous purposes and others avoid them altogether. However, it isn’t the tool to blame but the hand that uses it. You can create amazing compositions and artworks using the most extreme tools and still be truthful to your art and heart.

The Liquify Persona offers all the tools you need in one place and allows you to be creative and efficient. Probably the biggest advantage of the Liquify Persona is the possibility to apply effects only on a specific area of the image. Also, it gives you full control over the intensity of the effects and their parameters. With the Liquify Persona, you can supervise changes and compare the results with the original image anytime.

Don’t limit yourself to using the liquify tools for portraits only. You can find a wide range of purposes for these tools and many of them come with a large dose of creativity and inspiration. The best thing about these effects is that they don’t have to pass by as reality. You can create photos that look like paintings, inspired by Surrealism and Cubism. You can transform people into cartoons or add an interesting pattern to an object. Twisted branches, twirled waves, puffy clouds, and twisted objects create a fairytale atmosphere that won’t remain unnoticed.

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