Enhancing Landscapes with the Affinity Photo Liquify Filter

by Oct 26, 2021Photo Editing Tutorials

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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Enhancing Landscapes with the Affinity Photo Liquify Filter

Photographers have long used different lens focal lengths to distort perspective and enhance landscapes photography. A long lens can compress perspective, making distant objects appear closer. A wide-angle lens can increase distance whilst making the foreground loom large. Unfortunately using lens perspective alone might not be enough which is where the Affinity Photo Liquify filter can help.

In this article, we look at editing your landscape photography using a couple of tools in the Affinity Photo Liquify filter.

Why the Liquify Filter

If you’re an experienced Affinity Photo user, you may already be familiar with the Liquify Person in Affinity. The Liquify Persona is probably most associated with portrait and fashion editing. It has a selection of tools you can use to warp and smooth areas of an image in a natural looking way. But we can also apply the Liquify Persona tools to landscape photography to distort objects.

As well as applying perspective distortion across the entire frame using only a lens, we can selectively adjust areas of the image. For example, we might want to make the mountains on the right of this photo larger, or perhaps enlarge the rock in the foreground.

Example landscape photo before applying the Affinity Photo Liquify filter

Whilst the Liquify Persona can help you achieve these points, I don’t recommend using it. Any changes applied in the Liquify Persona are destructive. They are applied directly to the pixels of the layer and can’t subsequently be adjusted.

A better alternative is to use the Affinity Photo Liquify Filter. Or to be more accurate, use the Liquify Live Filter. This provides the same tools as the Liquify Persona, but because it’s a live filter your adjustments are saved. If you later reopen the live filter, you can make changes to those adjustments.

Let’s have a look at how to do this.

Applying the Liquify Live Filter

Start by opening the image you want to edit in the Photo Persona of Affinity Photo.

In the Layers Studio Panel, duplicate the Background image layer. You can do this by right clicking on the layer and selecting “Duplicate” in the popup menu. Alternatively, you can select the layer by clicking it in the Layers panel and then pressing Cmd + J (Mac) or Ctrl + J (Windows) on your keyboard.

When you see the new layer in the Layers Studio Panel, select it by clicking with your mouse.

With the layer selected, choose “Layer | New Live Filter Layer | Distort | Liquify…” in the Affinity Photo menu. This applies the Liquify Live Filter to the layer and opens the Liquify interface.

Affinity Photo Liquify Live Filter interface

If you’re familiar with the Liquify Persona in Affinity Photo, you will probably recognise the Liquify live filter interface.

Over on the left of the interface are several tools you can use to distort the image whilst the Studio Panels are on the right. For the example in this article, we will use two of the tools:

  1. Liquify Pinch Tool.
  2. Liquify Push Forward Tool.

Using the Affinity Photo Liquify Pinch Tool

Click the Liquify Pinch Too in the tool bar to select it.

Position your mouse pointer over the image and size the brush so that it covers the area you want to distort. You can change the size of the brush using the square bracket keys on your keyboard. Press the left bracket [ to make the brush smaller and press the right bracket ] to make it larger.

Now click and drag with the brush on the area you want to distort. Using small circular brush strokes over the area usually produces a good result. As you move the brush around you will see the area become enlarged and “bloated”.

By making several brush strokes in different areas you should be able to create a natural looking effect.

Here you can see the original image on the left and the distorted image on the right.

before and after using the liquify pinch tool

If you find you make a mess of the adjustment and want to start again, click the “Reset Mesh” button. You will find this on the right of the interface in the “Mesh” studio panel. The Mesh is a grid that covers and divides the image into small squares that help control the distortion. You can change the granularity of the grid using the Division slider which is also in the Mesh Studio Panel.

Another useful Studio Panel on the right of the interface is the Brush panel. Here you will find a control to size the brush as well as change other features like the hardness and Opacity.

Using the Affinity Photo Liquify Push Forward Tool

Select the Push Forward Liquify Tool in the tools panel on the left of the interface. Again, this is a brush-based tool which you can control using the sliders in the Brush Studio Panel.

After selecting the brush, position it over the area of the image you want to adjust, then click and drag with your mouse. This distorts the image by stretching the pixels.

Here is an example where the mountain in the top right of the image have been distorted.

Distorting the mountains with the liqufy push forward tool

Notice how the mountains in the image on the right are taller and meet the edge of the frame. This was done using the Push Forward Liquify Tool.

After making your changes, click the Done button in the top left of the interface. This applies your changes to the layer. You can though still reopen the Liquify live filter in the Layers Studio Panel by double clicking it.

See the Affinity Photo Liquify Live Filter in Action

Now watch this video to see the Affinity Photo Liquify Live Filter being used. The video explains how to use the Perspective filter initially and then continues to edit the image using the Liquify filter.


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Summary

The Affinity Photo Liquify live filter provides great tools you can use to enhance your landscape photography. In this tutorial we’ve looked at the Pinch Liquify and the Push Forward Liquify tools. Use both tools together to produce natural looking distortions to landscape photos but don’t expect to master them immediately. They take a little practice to use effectively, and you will need to use the controls of the Mesh and the Brush studio panels to achieve the best results.

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