Face-Aware Liquify in Photoshop CC 2015.5

Adobe just released Photoshop CC 2015.5 today with several new features (update:  I’ve created a list for photographers of all new features in CC vs CS6).  The best of them for photographers is the “Face-Aware” Liquify tool.  Adobe previously introduced facial recognition in Lightroom to help find photos, and now they’ve taken a massive leap forward to use facial recognition to help you retouch portraits in Photoshop.

Portrait, beauty, and fashion retouchers have been using the Liquify filter in Photoshop for years to enhance photos of people.  But the new Liquify filter recognizes people and gives you simple ways to adjust facial features.  You can now just move a slider to add a smile, make the nose slimmer, or open up the eyes.   You can even interactively click and drag on control points right on the face.  Want to make the lips look more full?  Just click and drag on the lips. In this demo, I’ll show  you how it works.


How well does it work?  I’ve tested it with a variety of scenarios, and I’ve been very impressed:

  • The quality of the adjustments is very impressive.  Facial hair, skin texture, and other details continue to look natural after adjusting.   I don’t think I could make some of these adjustments with the legacy liquify tools.  And if I could, it would take much more time.  It’s a game changer.
  • It generally handles glasses very well, even when making adjustments to the eyes.  Not perfect necessarily, but truly quite impressive.
  • It will detect multiple faces in a group photo.  I’ve pulled up photos with about ten faces and had great results and accurate detection.   When you want to work on a different face, just use the drop-down to control which face the sliders will adjust.  I have found a couple of minor areas where the tool falters a bit.  If someone has their head tilted quite a bit, Face-Aware may fail to detect that face (but it should work if you rotate the layer to make the face vertical).  And if someone’s face is partially blocked by another face, you probably won’t be able to select it either.

There are a couple of scenarios where you may have problems with Face-Aware adjusting things that should be left alone.  For example, you may need to prevent glasses from getting warped when adjusting eyes.  Or you may have a subject with one eye larger than the other and need to independently change the eyes (something Face-Aware does not support).  There are a few ways you can help address these issues:

  • Convert your layer to a Smart Object and mask out the areas that should not be warped.
  • Use liquify on a copy of your layer and blend it with the original.
Greg Benz Photography