Warp type / distort in Illustrator tutorial

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By Andrew Buckle, Updated : 2021

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Learn how to warp type in Illustrator using a variety of warping tools in Illustrator


1. Warp type in Adobe Illustrator

Select type (or create some type via type tool) in Adobe Illustrator and then go to the object menu and then to the envelope distort category and make with warp command.


Set style to warp Illustrator type such as arc, wave, fish etc and set horizontal warp or vertical warp and set bend value for type warp and set distortion (for additional optional warping) and click OK


You can then just keep with the envelope or expand the envelope via the expand command in the object menu. The warp type is still live so the envelope can still be modified by just using tools such as the direct selection tool where the envelope points can be selected and then dragged to further warp the type and this can be used to create ever more complex designs using live type.


You can also edit the content of the envelope via the envelope distort menu and the 'edit contents' command.

2. Warp type with mesh

Select some type and go to the Illustrator object menu and make with mesh command. Set the number of rows and columns for the warp mesh, the default 4 x 4 but it can be 20 x 20 etc. Click OK


Go to the toolbar and select the direct selection tool and then click on the individual points or select multiple points on the mesh with the tool and then drag to warp the type. You can also warp the type by clicking on the anchor points and lengthening and rotating those anchors as well to distort and warp the type.


You can then continue to modify the type and once you are finished, go to the object menu and envelope distort and expand and the type will now be warped. The type is no longer live after this point and you will be just left with the outlines. You can then go to the layers panel and select the individual characters in the design or double click the characters and enter isolation mode (or a few un-groups)


3. Warp type with top object in Illustrator

Create some type and then go to the toolbar and select one of the shape tools or use the pen tool and create a new shape and this will be the top object. Select both objects and then go to the object menu and envelope distort and top object. No panel etc appears. You can now manipulate the type using the direct selection tool by selecting the points of the warping envelope as well as the anchor points and handles.


4. Warp tools and used with type

There are a variety of warp tools available to use with type in Illustrator such as the crystallize tool and the wrinkle tool and others. The type needs to be expanded first via the object menu and expand type. You can now add your warping to the type. It is a destructive effect. Go to the warp tool and double click to display the options such as the width and height of the warping tool and then apply the warping to the type and drag and distort the designs in all kinds of ways. You can also combine this with the powerful repeat radial feature with Illustrator type and continue to manipulate the object inside the repeat object to create an infinite number of radial designs.