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How to Warp Text in Adobe Illustrator

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Read Time: 8 min
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Want to learn how to warp some text in Illustrator? In this video from my course, 10 Essential Design Tips in Adobe Illustrator, you'll learn all the ins and outs of distorting and warping text in Adobe Illustrator.

While you can create the look yourself, you can also download warped text effects to use in Illustrator from Envato Elements.

Text Effect Editable With Warp StyleText Effect Editable With Warp StyleText Effect Editable With Warp Style
Find and download thousands of Adobe Illustrator text effects like this one on Envato Elements.

If you have an Envato Elements subscription, this selection and other Illustrator text effect templates are available to download at any time without limits. We'll look at a few more after this tutorial.

And if you prefer video tutorials instead, don't forget to visit the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel. You'll find hundreds of amazing videos, like this one about essential design tips and how to warp text in Illustrator:

What You'll Learn in This Illustrator Warp Text Tutorial

  • How to prepare the text for warping
  • How to create a bulge effect
  • How to add a distortion
  • How to adjust the bulge effect
  • How to create an arc effect
  • How to adjust the arc effect

1. How to Prepare the Text for Warping

So now we're going to learn how to warp text stuff in Illustrator. Let's grab our Type Tool, left-click anywhere on the artboard, and type some text. Let's type "WARPED". And we can go to the Character panel at the top and pick a font—let's go for Gotham Bold

Then I'm going to go to the alignment options and select Align Center so that it's in the middle. Now let's create a couple of copies by holding Alt-Shift and dragging. So your screen should look like this:

Plain text ready for warpingPlain text ready for warpingPlain text ready for warping
We'll use Illustrator to warp this text in different ways.

2. How to Create a Bulge Effect

We'll select the first piece of text and go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp. We've got the Preview option checked, and we can choose the Style as well. There are lots of presets to choose from, so let's go for Bulge, and see how that looks. 

Bulge effectBulge effectBulge effect

So at the moment, we are bulging this text horizontally, and we can adjust that Bend slider. So, of course, we can go up a few percent and you'll see it starts to bulge outwards. Or we can go ever so slightly into the negatives and it will go inwards.

You could also bulge this vertically, so it'll behave slightly differently. It really does depend what you're going for.

Vertical bulgeVertical bulgeVertical bulge

3. How to Add a Distortion

We could also distort the Illustrator warp text both horizontally and vertically, using the slider. So you could make one side appear larger by dragging the Horizontal Distortion slider to -100

Horizontal distortionHorizontal distortionHorizontal distortion

But let's go for something more subtle. Choose the following values to warp the text in Illustrator:

  • Horizontal Bend: -2%
  • Horizontal Distortion: -54%
  • Vertical Distortion: 25%

Then click OK, and you can see that we've warped the text.

Bulge effect finalBulge effect finalBulge effect final

And if we click on it, we still have all of these options along the top, where you can change the preset and other values. 

4. How to Adjust the Bulge Effect

Now, at the moment, if I press Command-Y to go into outline mode, you can see that it's still got a box and lines around it, and I can't change the fill color or anything. 

Unexpanded textUnexpanded textUnexpanded text

So what I recommend is once you're done warping text in Illustrator, go to Object > Expand. Leave Object and Fill selected, click OK, and then we can switch into outline mode again, and you'll be able to see your text. 

Expanded textExpanded textExpanded text

Now remember, when you expand anything in Illustrator, essentially what you see becomes the paths of the shape. So this is now made up of lots of different anchor points, and we can go in and adjust these if we want to fine-tune that warp. 

Adjusting anchor points of warp textAdjusting anchor points of warp textAdjusting anchor points of warp text

But also, when we select it, it now has a fill color, and we can easily change it if we want to.

5. How to Create an Arc Effect

So let's keep warping more text in Illustrator. 

Click on the second piece of text and, as before, go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp. This time, for the Style, let's choose Arc. So we'll set the Distortion back to 0, and then we can bend this up or down, and of course, you can adjust the Bend to Vertical as well. 

For this "warp text in Illustrator" tutorial, let's try these settings:

  • Vertical Bend: -72%
  • Horizontal Distortion: -100%
  • Vertical Distortion: 0%

And it should look like this:  

Arc effectArc effectArc effect

6. How to Adjust the Arc Effect

Are you happy with your Illustrator warped text? Then you can start adding color to it and get creative by adding some strokes or brushes. Go to Object > Expand. Leave Object and Fill selected, click OK, and now we can get creative with this. 

Let's add some brushes. We'll start by swapping the fill and the stroke, so we now have an outline. And from the Brushes panel, let's choose a pencil brush with an orange color. 

Arc with orange pencil brushArc with orange pencil brushArc with orange pencil brush

So those are a few ways to warp text in Illustrator, and now I'll leave you to go and have a lot of fun experimenting with them.

Final results of warped text in lllustratorFinal results of warped text in lllustratorFinal results of warped text in lllustrator

You can also warp text and save time when you use professionally made text effects in Illustrator.

Text Effect Editable With Warp StyleText Effect Editable With Warp StyleText Effect Editable With Warp Style

They make warping text in Illustrator a breeze, since the effects are already made. One of the best places to find text effect assets online is Envato Elements. 

Premium Adobe Illustrator Text Effects From Envato Elements

You can do more than warp text in Adobe Illustrator. There are lots of transformations and changes that make your words stand out. But if you don't have time to follow more tutorials, you can download Illustrator text effects from Envato Elements. Here are a few that are included with your Envato Elements subscription:

1. Cool Vintage Text Effects for Illustrator (AI)

If you're looking to add a retro vibe with text effects in Illustrator, consider this download. There are 15 unique styles packed into this download. Each of these Adobe Illustrator text effects works in a single click. The vector effect also means that the results keep their quality at all types of sizes.

Cool Vintage Text Effects for IllustratorCool Vintage Text Effects for IllustratorCool Vintage Text Effects for Illustrator

2. Striped Text Effect Set (AI)

Do you like fun Illustrator text effect templates? This striped set is what you're after. It adds colorful layers to your text. The best part is that these Adobe Illustrator text effects are completely editable vectors, so they can be applied to a wide range of projects.

Striped Text Effect SetStriped Text Effect SetStriped Text Effect Set

3. Cheese: Cool Text Effect for Illustrator (AI, EPS)

Very cool and professionally made, Cheese is one of the fun Illustrator text effect templates on Envato Elements. You get full control to customize the results of this download. That means you can keep the cheese look or experiment with different colors to make cool text effects in Illustrator.

4. Line 3D Text Effect (AI, EPS)

Here's one of my favorite Illustrator text effect templates. It creates a cool outline for your words that's combined with a glassy texture. You can also use this Adobe Illustrator text effect for shapes and logos. Try it for posters, flyers, and a lot more.

5. Under-Inked Print: Instant Vector Text Effects (EPS)

Have fun creating the distressed look with these text effects in Illustrator. It's a bundle that includes multiple texture and color styles. Not a bad way to close out our list of Illustrator text effect templates!

Watch the Full Free Illustrator Course

In the full free course, 10 Essential Design Tips in Adobe Illustrator, you’ll learn about ten essential design tips to help you bring your creative ideas to life in Adobe Illustrator. You'll master a variety of different techniques, helping you to boost your creativity and transfer your ideas to a digital canvas.

And if you use design software on a daily basis, consider a subscription to Envato Elements. For a single low monthly fee, you get access to unlimited downloads from the huge Envato Elements library of creative assets. Create with unique fonts, photos, graphics, and templates, and deliver better projects faster.

More Illustrator Text Effect Resources

If you want to learn more about ways you can customize text in Illustrator, stay here on Envato Tuts+. Our instructors have put together useful tutorials just for you: 

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