How to Create Transform Distortion Effects and Warp an Object in Adobe Illustrator

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Shane Conder
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How to create distortion effects?

This effect is very useful when you are create shadows. By distorting it, it can be tilted on its own horizontal or vertical axis, or on another angle you have chosen with respect to one of the objects. You can also choose to distort one or more objects at the same time. There are at least two ways to create this distortion effect, and here you will learn them.


Distort objects with the Distort tool

First you have to select the object (s) and then the tool "Distortion". If you want to distort the object relative to its center, you just have to drag it in any direction.


If you want to distort it based on another reference point, press anywhere on the artboard to move the reference point. Then move the pointer away from the reference point and drag the object until it is at the desired angle.

To distort the object around its vertical axis you just have to drag it anywhere in the window up or down. Press the letter "Shift" to restore the original width of the object.

And to distort the object around its horizontal axis, you also have to drag it left or right and to re-establish it, press «Shift».

Distort objects (cut) with the Distort command

Start by selecting the object. To distort it using the same center point, select "Object", "Transform" and "Distort".

If you want to distort the object with another reference point, select the «Distort» option and press «Alt» and then click on the point you want to choose as a reference point.


In the window "Distortion", enter an angle between -359 and 359. This will mark the tilt of the object clockwise.

Then select the axis on which the object is to be tilted. If the object has a pattern fill, select "Pattern" to move the object. And if you don't want the object to move but only the motif, uncheck «Objects». All that remains is to click on "OK" or "Copy" depending on what you want to do.


How to create distortion effects with the transform tool?

For this you have to select the objects and then go to the panel "Transform". Once there, enter a digit in the section "Distortion". If you want to change the landmark first, press the white square button on the landmark marker.

Distort objects with the Free Transform tool

Again, choose the object or objects you will work with. Then select the «Free Transform» tool. Then drag a vertex handle of the bounding box. You can hold down the "Ctrl" key until you get the desired distortion level. Or you can hold down the "Shift + Alt + Ctrl" keys to distort the object in perspective.

How to distort an object with the Warp tool?


This free position warp tool allows you to distort parts of the object to give it a more natural look. Distortions can be rotate, add and move to facilitate the deformation work.

Start by selecting the illustration. Then click on the tool "Free position deformation". By default, the application indicates the best positioned areas to be deformed, but if you prefer to do it manually, you can disable this option by going to "Edition", "Preferences", "General" and then uncheck the “Enable default values ​​according to content” option.


Then select a point you want to work on and drag it in any direction. To deform, select a point and place the cursor near the location. When a dashed circle appears, drag it until you get the desired result.

If you want to learn how to draw freehand with the pencil and brush tool in Adobe Illustrator you can read this article.

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