Black Artifacts from Liquify Tool
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Photoshop CC 2018/2019 and macOS Mojave 10.14: Black artifacts

One can probably imagine the amount of annoyance felt when unwanted black freckles show up on an image you’re cleaning up. Not very long ago, I smashed more than three dollars worth of Hi-Chews in my hand out of sheer frustration over a bug known in Adobe’s Photoshop CC 2018 and 2019. Sadly, it was unknown to me, but known to Adobe.

Adobe has the bug aptly named, “Black artifacts on image after using the Liquify filter.” The issue comes down to having graphics acceleration turned on when using the Liquify Filter when you’re using certain machines running macOS 10.14.0, 10.14.2 or 10.14.3.

The following machines are affected based off the list of graphics cards that Adobe says are affected:

  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)
  • iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2015)
  • iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Mid 2015)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013)

And to be more specific, the bug affects Macs with the following graphics cards:

  • AMD Radeon HD – FirePro D300
  • AMD Radeon HD – FirePro D500
  • AMD Radeon HD – FirePro D700
  • AMD Radeon R9 M290
  • AMD Radeon R9 M370
  • AMD Radeon R9 M390

The worst part is, I’m personally running a 2013 Mac Pro with the FirePro D300 video cards. About two weeks ago, I didn’t experience this problem at all. I had always kept my macOS up to date, but haven’t really updated much of my Adobe products, since I’ve heard of other dreaded bugs, the one scaring me the most was the one affecting the healing brush. I can’t say that I had knowingly updated my machine to a newer version of Photoshop 2018, but I apparently did in January.

Sure enough, after that, black little spots appeared on my images right after using the Liquify Filter. I thought at first that it was due to the file’s corruption, it was “Recovered” by Photoshop, so I had expected to be isolated to that file. Much to my surprise, other images I edited with the Liquify Filter showed consistent results.


Judging by the forums and the notes from Adobe, the bug existed when macOS Mojave was first released and affected those running Adobe Photoshop 2018. The bug was mysteriously fixed with Apple’s 10.14.1 patch, but then reappeared on 10.14.2 and 10.14.3. Kind of strange as to why this is only affecting these certain machines, but Adobe is working with Apple to figure it all out.


Rollback to macOS Mojave 10.14.1.


Run Liquify without graphics acceleration:

  • Hold down the Option key when you select Filter > Liquify to disable the Use Graphics Processor option when launching the Liquify dialog.
  • Disable the Use Graphics Processor option in the preferences.
    1. Choose Photoshop > Preferences > Performance
    2. Deselect Use Graphics Processor
    3. Quit and relaunch Photoshop

Running without hardware acceleration does make things noticeably slower, but it does make it the filter work.

I guess the last option is to edit on a whole new machine.

Between random bugs like this one, Lightroom curves not working correctly, Lightroom not displaying correctly with dual monitors, Photoshop’s blending layers, Photoshop’s healing brush issues and blowing out speakers (Adobe’s Premiere Pro was destroying 2018 MacBook Pro speakers due to a software bug), I can’t help but feel like a guinea pig.

I love Adobe and Adobe products, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like they’re drinking the same water as Apple and Microsoft, as it seems that they all are experimenting with live users instead of testing software past 70% completion.

For now, I’ll just wait to use my main machine along with the many others that own 2013 Mac Pros and 2015 iMacs.

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