Melted statues. Warped type. Digital glitches. The new liquify approach to photo-editing and typography adds a surreal, dreamlike quality to designs, giving an offbeat edge to everyday objects and otherwise traditional print layouts.

Here we take a look at how the liquify trend is developing in 2018, and how you can apply the style to your own designs.

Liquify Tip #1: ‘Melt’ Everyday Objects

Trend Report: Delving into the Liquify Design Trend

You can apply a simple liquify effect, which allows you to drag parts of an image to create a stretched, ‘liquid’ effect, in most photo-editing software. By liquifying just one part of an image, you can create a distorted effect which prompts the viewer to look twice. Applying the effect to everyday objects, such as household items, can add a particularly surreal feel to otherwise nondescript photos.

Alternatively, you can try blending photos of liquids, such as these ones on 123RF, with photos of everyday objects to give the illusion of the object melting. This gives a really cool edge to photos, which you can then use on posters or flyers.

Liquify Tip #2: Aim for Surreal and Dreamlike

Trend Report: Delving into the Liquify Design Trend

The liquify effect is nothing new in photo-editing, but we’re seeing the style being used in more offbeat, witty ways this year. Using the effect to distort old-fashioned portraits, such as works by Jose Benitez on Behance. He uses this effect to add a surreal touch to vintage photos and create fantastic branding imagery. Scour archives and antique fairs for vintage photos, or find vintage portraits online on the 123RF library.

Popular across advertising and club promotions, we’re also seeing the liquify trend applied to images of classical statues. For a look that’s completely on-trend, liquify a Greek bust to distort the eyes or mouth, and add a touch of metallic or neon color for a design that’s rave-ready. For inspiration, check out Davide del Chiaro’s ‘Melted Collection’ on Behance. The key lesson to take from here? Maintain an intact version of the image below the liquified effect to give the impression of layers being peeled away. Super cool.

Liquify Tip #3: Blend Images Together for a Dispersion Effect

Trend Report: Delving into the Liquify Design Trend

Dispersion isn’t strictly a liquify effect, but it gives another angle on the trend and can look incredible. More ethereal and dreamlike than liquifying your images, you can blend two or more photos together to give the illusion of a subject disappearing into a plume of smoke or emerging from a stream of liquid. Particularly effective when paired with images that suggest movements, such as photos of dancers or athletes, you’ll see this sort of effect used in editorial work and advertising.

For inspiration on how to combine images, look to Costas Gatsis’ ‘Liquify’ portraits on Behance, which combine images of spills and splashes with human portraiture to extremely elegant effect. You can also learn how to create an autumnal dispersion effect.

Liquify Tip #4: Channel the Look With Backgrounds

Trend Report: Delving into the Liquify Design Trend

The most basic liquify effect uses the existing photo to create the colors present in the liquefied part of the image. However, you might want to add more interest to your design by bringing in metallic textures and more unique colors. This is another sub-trend of the liquify trend we’re seeing across editorial work, with marbling and metallics making liquified effects look more 3D, vibrant and luxurious.

Ready-made blurred backgrounds are a great way of incorporating more luxurious texture and color into your photo-editing process. These downloadable digital backgrounds are quick and easy to incorporate into existing liquified photos by overlaying them onto your design.

Trend Report: Delving into the Liquify Design Trend

Liquify Tip #5: Warp Your Type

The liquify effect isn’t limited to photos alone—we’re also seeing the trend emerge in typography and print design. Teamed with otherwise simple colors and layouts, warped type brings an offbeat edge to layouts. The key is to add a touch of distortion without compromising on the legibility of the text.

Trend Report: Delving into the Liquify Design Trend

Teaming warped text set in stark white against a simple black background is a great way of ensuring your type remains readable and striking, like in this example by supersuper.

Word Art may have been the old-school way of achieving a liquid text effect back in the day. Hence, modern designers are finding new, more experimental ways of creating organic movement and distortion. Designer Bianca Osmond at Shillington One used an old-fashioned method of cutting out letters by hand and gluing them in a warped arrangement onto paper, before digitizing the result.

Trend Report: Delving into the Liquify Design Trend

Image by Aditya Dutta on Behance.

Scattering warped letters across a layout show how taking a liquid approach to typography can add playfulness and optimism to print design.

Liquify Tip #6: Experiment with Glitch Effects

Trend Report: Delving into the Liquify Design Trend

The liquify trend is all about achieving distortion and adding an unusual edge to otherwise conventional imagery. Digital glitch effects are in the same vein and can be merged with liquify effects to create stylish distorted effects. The glitch effect can be used to add a dystopian or retro effect to images, which is immersive and interesting. You can find out more about the glitch effect trend here.

For instance, applying a glitch or liquify effect to old-fashioned paintings are extremely effective. They provide a cutting-edge vibe when paired with super-clean typography. Look to Emily Rose Nazar’s banner designs for The National Gallery for inspiration on how the glitch trend can transform traditional imagery from fusty to futuristic.

Liquify Tip #7: Recraft Photos in Liquid Form

Trend Report: Delving into the Liquify Design Trend

Not satisfied with only liquifying one part of your photo? Why not transform a complete image into liquid form? As with dispersion effects, liquifying a whole image works best with photos that suggest animation and movement. Try blending images of liquid together over an existing image, to gradually transform your chosen subject into a watery design. Experiment with creating liquid versions of people or animals, as in this tutorial which transforms a bird into a liquid interpretation.

Ready to Get Liquifying?

Liquifying is one of the simplest and most dramatic effects you can apply to photos and type. Keep the effect looking relevant and on-trend by observing the tips above.

Ready to take your liquify effects to the next level? Look for liquid photos such as these to blend into your imagery and create more immersive, advanced liquify effects. Above all, once you start ‘melting’ your designs, you’ll never look back!