By now, I am sure that you have seen the demos of Photoshop CS5’s new Puppet Warp stretching limbs like a marionette. Well, how about something a little more practical like putting a smile on your face … literally. Spend enough time shoot portraits and you will come across the uncooperative subject. When tweaking a smile in front of the lens doesn’t work, now you can use Puppet Warp after the fact. Puppet Warp is really a powerful precision manipulation tool that is a welcome addition to the existing Photoshop Tools.
1. Puppet Warp requires a selection with no background.
The demos glaze over this point. Puppet Warp can not work on the entire image. It requires you to isolate your subject on a blank Layer so that Puppet Warp can build its polygonal mesh. Translation – knock out the background. Here, I duplicated the original iStockphoto image as a new Layer to start. I used the Quick Selection Tool to build a quick selection around the frowning woman. Then, I used the new Refine Edge Tool to great a smooth realistic selection around her. (More on the Refine Edge tool in future articles.) With the selection complete, I inverted the selection (Control/Command+I) and deleted the background.
2. Use Spot Healing Brush with Content Aware to remove frown lines.
You can stretch an image as much as you want, but it will not remove frown lines. In particular, the lines between her eyebrows are very deep. But, using the new Spot Healing Brush with Content Aware makes this a quick task. If your results are still a little dark, you can use the Dodge Tool to brighten the area.
3. Convert Layer to Smart Object.
Puppet Warp was made for Smart Objects. Just right click on the Layer and select Convert to Smart Object from the menu. In doing so, the Puppet Warp becomes an Adjustment Layer which can be editing even after you have completed the warp. You can even turn off the Puppet Warp to see the original image pre-warp.
4. Start adding the Puppet Warp pins for manipulation areas and anchors.
Puppet Warp is located under the Edit Menu. The cursor will change to the new pin tool. You will need to add pins to areas that you will manipulate and the areas that need to stay put. Think of it this way — one pin will pull an entire surrounding area that is not locked by another pin. Just try moving a pin and you will see. You can always add additional pins as you go. At some point, Photoshop may say that you have maxed then number of pins. If this happens, just go to the Density drop-down over the image and select More Points which will build a denser mesh and allow more pins.
5. Start with the touched-up forehead.
I already removed the frown lines on her forehead, but the eyebrows still do not look happy. I selected the first pin with my cursor and then held down the Shit key to select the second pin. With two pins selected, I used the Up arrow to lift the eyebrows up a little. I also pulled each pin individually towards the center of the eyebrow area just a little.
6. Start with lifting the cheeks.
It takes more muscles to smile than to frown. Creating a realistic smile means manipulating more than just the mouth. Here, I am starting with these two pins to lift the cheeks. The rest of the mouth is locked in place by pins. I moved both pins Up to raise the cheeks. I also tweaked each pin individually to give a nice stretch.
7. Flattened the upper lip.
When you smile, the lips are stretched. Even over-plumped lips require less curves in the upper lip. With these three pins selected, I used the Down arrow to remove some of the curve. I also tweaked each pin a little individually to flatten the upper lip more.
8. Pull the corners of the mouth to start the smile.
I selected these two pins one at a time. I pulled each pin up and away to start stretching the pout into a smile. Just compare these pins to the closest neighbor pins here and in Step #7 to see the before and after.
9. Stretch the bottom lip too.
The bottom lip will also need to be stretched to round out the shape of the mouth. I pulled each pin individually up and away to shape the smile. Remember to try for a realistic look. Stop before your subject looks like the Joker from Batman!
10. Duplicate this Layer and Rasterize it for final touch-ups.
As good as Puppet Warp is, you will still want to fine tune the effect using your traditional Photoshop techniques. Since this Layer is a Smart Object, you will not be able to directly paint on it. Simply duplicate this Layer and right click to Rasterize it.
11. Final touch-ups.
To fill in the gap in her lips, I used a regular Brush in Lighten Mode with a 60% Opacity. I selected a dark pink from her lips to use as the color and started to paint away the dark gap. At this point you may also want to use the Liquify Filter to gently tweak the mouth and eyes for the final results. (For example, a mouth smiling is actually a little higher than a mouth frowning. Liquify makes nudging the entire mouth up easy.) I also used the Burn Tool to give a slight shadow and color to the edge of the checks near the nose .
Once you start manipulating with the Puppet Warp, you will see how precise it can be to isolate and manipulate areas. Remember to convert the image to a Smart Object, and you will be able to apply and further tweak the Puppet Warp effect without degrading the image resolution. You can even delete the entire effect and start over which is ideal for experimenting. Just add plenty of pins 😆