Photoshop: Smudge tool or Liquify feature to simulate Polaroid emulsion manipulation

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  • Updated 12 months ago
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Before it was discontinued I used to dabble in Polaroid SX-70 manipulations a bit.
I've occasionally tried to recreate the technique in photoshop, but I haven't been able to develop an easy way to do it using the existing tools, and what l've tried hasn't been satisfactory at all.
I think it can be accomplished by modifying the smudge tool or the liquify tool, which might be preferable since it records the strokes in the mesh.
For those unfamiliar with it, SX-70 manipulation involves using a tool on the SX-70 print before the paste-like chemical that forms the image has time to harden. The image layer is sandwiched between an opaque plastic backing and a clear plastic cover layer and you can use a stylus or other tool to push the paste around.
There are two things that result that the smudge tool or liquify can't currently replicate.
When you push on the area you're manipulating the paste gets pushed forward and to the side causing the tone to get lighter as you get near the point of contact. Press hard enough and enough paste is pushed out that you see the white under layer at the center of the stroke.
The other thing that happens is that the material being pushed out gets compressed at the edges of the stroke and gets darker.

So I'm basically looking for a pressure sensitive brush for the smudge tool or liquify that creates a gradient that goes from 0% transparency at the center and ends up something like 100% darker at the edge of the brush.
And pushes the image around.
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David Smith

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Posted 1 year ago

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Cristen Gillespie

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Now that sounds really interesting. I wonder if it can be done. I unfortunately discovered the Polaroid SX-70 thing too late to try it—but I got to look at a lot of ones already done and wished that I could try it. This would be even better for me if it came close enough since everything I do in photo manipulation is digital.

I don't know if such a tool is even within reach yet, but more interesting brush tools for manipulating photos would be very nice to have.  The Pattern Stamp tool has caught the attention of several brush makers lately after what must have been years of neglect by most people, so more such tools might be possible to create.
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Rosa

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I love the Pattern Stamp tool and have been playing around with various brushes to get unique effects on my art work. 

I love David's idea.
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eartho, Champion

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The Mixer Brush is where it's at.
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David Smith

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Bumping because I can't believe that isn't generating any appreciable interest at all.
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eartho, Champion

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you might give the mixer brush a try... depending on the settings, it can behave like the clone tool or smudge or regular brush or all of the above.