How Do I Bend or Curve an Image in Photoshop?

By David Weedmark

Any child knows that you can make a pencil look like rubber just by waggling it in your fingers. With Adobe Photoshop CC, you can create the same illusion with any image, turning solid objects into rubber to bend or curve them at will. For objects within a photo, use the Liquify filter or the Warp tool. If you want to bend an entire image or photo, the Warp works well for that too, as does Perspective, Distort and Skew.

Liquify Solid Objects

Step 1

Open your image in Photoshop. If the image has a plain solid background, create a copy of the image layer -- usually the "Background" layer -- by dragging it onto the "New Layer" button at the bottom of the Layers panel. If you don't have a plain background, isolate the object you want to bend by selecting it with the "Quick Selection Tool" in the Toolbox, then press "Ctrl-C" and Ctrl-V" to copy and paste the object into its own layer.

Step 2

Click the "Filter" menu and select "Liquify." Adjust the brush size as needed and use the default Push Forward Tool to push the object in any direction using smooth, even strokes. If you overwork the object -- which can easily happen if you're making large bends -- parts of the object may appear too thick or too thin. To correct this, click on those spots with the Pucker Tool or the Bloat Tool. Click "OK" when finished.

Step 3

Select the "Smudge Tool" from the Toolbox to fix any bumps or grooves left in the object's edges by the Liquify filter. Using single, short strokes that are perpendicular to the object's edges, you can push the pixels into line without visibly smudging them. Avoid long strokes or too many strokes in one area, as this noticeably smudges the edges.

Warp Objects Like Rubber

Step 1

Create a copy of your image layer, or select and copy the object you want to transform just as you did with the Liquify filter. Use any of the Marquee Tools from the Toolbox to select the object. Click the "Edit" menu, then "Transform," then "Warp." A grid appears over the object.

Step 2

Drag the square handle on one corner of the grid to pull the end of the object in that direction. This bends the object, but also makes it appear fatter. Drag the second square handle in the same direction until the object's thickness is back to normal. For a mild bend -- like 30 degrees in the case of a pencil -- this should be all you need. For a more extreme bend, repeat this process, but also drag the grid intersection points as needed. Press "Enter."

Step 3

Clean up the background as needed by using the "Eraser Tool" from the Toolbox. Erasing the background around the object you warped makes the layer below it visible. If this also makes the un-warped object visible, use the "Healing Brush" or "Spot Healing Brush" from the Toolbox to hide that second object from view.

Bending Entire Photos

Step 1

Open an image you want to use as a background. Open another image that you want to bend and click the "Layer" menu. Select "Duplicate Layer," then select the background image in the "Document" menu. Click "OK" and close the current window. The image you want to bend is now a new layer in the background image window.

Step 2

Resize the image you want to bend, if needed, by selecting "Transform" from the Edit menu and selecting "Scale." Drag any corner while holding down the "Shift" key, then press "Enter. Select "Transform" from the Edit menu once again. This time, select "Skew," "Distort," "Perspective" or "Warp."

Step 3

Select the "Perspective" Transform option if you want to bend the image to make it look like it's in three dimensions. This is a good option for putting a photo on a wall, in a window or in a frame. Drag the corner handle to bend the object as needed. Press "Enter" to save the changes.

Step 4

Select the "Skew" or "Distort" Transform options to bend an object to a specific shape without being restricted to simply a 3D perspective. While these two tools work similarly, the Skew tool is better for slanting an image, while the Distort tool is better for stretching it.

Step 5

Select the "Warp" Transform option to make extreme bends in an image. Dragging a corner handle towards the center, for example, folds the image over itself like origami paper.