I’ll be writing a lot of posts in the future that discuss how to bend, twist, warp and distort all sorts of things inside of Adobe Photoshop. The sky is the limit when it comes to this topic and Photoshop has tons of tools to make your life progress as smoothly as possible in this regard. In this post though, I’m going to limit myself to one area. That area is the warping of both raster images and vector graphics.
If you aren’t aware of what raster images and vector graphics are, I’ll give you a quick rundown. Basically, rasters are simply a grid of colored pixels. Together, those pixels create the image that you and I see. Each pixel itself is assigned a color and shade. If a raster graphic is bent or twisted too much or to too extreme a degree, it can appear distorted and fuzzy.
Vector graphics don’t use individual pixels that are limited to being assigned a specific color and shade like those above. The pixels vectors use are assigned colors according to a mathematical formula. The primary noticeable difference between raster and vector images for the average person is the fact that vectors don’t lose quality, while the rasters do. You can stretch a vector graphic to oblivion and it will still appear crisp and clear.
In today’s post, I’m going to quickly show you how you can use Photoshop’s warp capabilities to warp a raster image. Then, I’ll show you how you can type some text, transform that text into a vector shape and finally, warp that shape. I’ll also show you the difference between converting the text into a raster graphic and a vector shape.
Warping a Raster Image
Oftentimes, you’ll want to distort a graphic that’s contained within another image. Say you have a few different layers and you want to reshape one layer. If the layer you would like to distort has a white background, you can use a blend mode to avoid all the time it would take to clip that white background out. I’ll show you what I mean below.
I already opened up the image I’ll be using for this section into Photoshop. In this file, I have a white background and the image itself. The image is of some coffee beans that are shaped like a heart. The coffee bean image has a white background.
As I just mentioned above, I’m going to use a blend mode to hide the white background from the image. If you aren’t familiar with blend modes, please feel free to read through these posts.
Here’s what the Layers panel looks like.
And here’s what the coffee bean image looks like.
To hide the white areas of an image with a blend mode, all you need to do is set the Blend Mode drop-down to Multiply. Doing this will hide the white elements of the image and keep everything else.
Okay, now that the stage is set, I can begin warping, which is really easy to do.
To warp an image, I’ll head up to the Edit > Transform > Warp menu item and click.
After I do that, a grid with anchor points and control handles will appear over the image at hand. Take a look.
To warp the image, I could click and drag the handles around.
And I could click right into the grid itself and drag wherever I want.
I could also click and drag any of the available anchor points. Regardless of what I choose to click and drag, when I’m finished, I could click Enter on my keyboard to apply any changes I made.
Instead of warping the image freehand, I could always choose one of the many presets available via the Warp drop-down menu. This drop-down is located in the options bar and has many options, such as Flag, Arc and Fisheye, just to name a few.
After clicking one of the presets, the options bar will adjust to that option and offer variables that you can change. These variables consist of position, degree of warp and rotation, if applicable.
Again, after making any changes, simply press Enter on your keyboard or click on the check mark at the right side of the options bar. This will apply your changes.
Inside of Photoshop, there is a warp tool that’s dedicated specifically to text. I’ll be going over that tool in subsequent posts because it’s fairly limited. Today, I’d like to use the same tool as I did above to change the shape of some sample text.
I’ve gone ahead and clicked on the Horizontal Type Tool and typed the word WARP.
To modify the size and color of this word, I changed some of the settings inside the Character panel.
While I won’t be talking about these tools in this post today, I did want to show you how I created, sized and colored the demo word.
Okay, the time has come to warp the text. If I head back to the Edit > Transform > Warp menu item and click, I’ll notice that nothing happens. Basically, I’ll just get the options bar that will offer those presets I mentioned before.
What I’m after is the overlay grid that will allow me to stretch and bend the word to my delight.
In order to get that grid, I have to change the text layer to either a raster one or a vector one. To perform either of these functions, I’ll need to go up to the Type > Convert To Shape menu item or the Type > Rasterize Type Layer menu item.
Just beware, once I rasterize or convert the text to a shape, I won’t be able to edit the text anymore. Because of this, I’ll make sure it says what I really want it to say.
Once I do either of these things, I can go back to the Edit > Transform > Warp menu item and click. Doing that will give me the grid I want.
After that, I can begin pulling it around.
Once I’m finished altering the shape of the text, I can press Enter on my keyboard to commit the change.
Now, I want to show you something. I warped both the raster and the shape versions of this text. I want to show you the quality difference between the two. First, I’ll show you the raster version.
And next, I’ll show you the vector (shape) version.
If you look at the upper right corner of the text in both examples, you’ll see that the raster version is much more fuzzy than the vector version. The reason for this is because of what I stated above. It’s the pixel based image versus the mathematical formula based one. There are occasions you might want one over the other and I’ll cover all that in later posts as well. For now, just know that you can warp either one right inside of Photoshop.
Well that wasn’t too difficult. The problem with writing posts about Photoshop is that it’s so easy to go off on a tangent and never get to the point of the post. I find that I have to constantly rein myself in to stay focused. I hope I don’t show my distraction in my writing.
I also hope that I effectively demonstrated how to warp both raster images and vector graphics in Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!