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How to Create a Quick, Wobbly, Warped Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

The Liquify tool is not only useful for working with photographic images. In this tutorial we will be using the different options within this tool to add movement, flow, and distortion to a typographic poster. 

Find a large selection of awesome fonts over on GraphicRiver.

What You'll Need

You will need the font Archivo Black from Google fonts to complete this project.

1. How to Create a New Document and Add Guides

Step 1

In Photoshop, go to File > New. Name the document Wobbly Effect, and set the Width to 1270 px and Height to 1600 px. I will be using 72 dpi as I plan to keep this poster digital and Background Contents White. Click OK to create the document.

Create a new document

Step 2 

At the bottom of the Layers panel, click on Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer > Solid Color and use a blue color. I am using the following color code: #0100c8.

Create a new fill layer and select a blue color

Step 3

We need to create a 1-inch margin around the document. Head over to View > New Guide. Set the Orientation to Horizontal and Position to 1 inch. Do the same for the Vertical orientation. For the right margin, simply subtract 1 inch from the final document size. 

Set a 1 inch margin around the document

2. How to Add and Set Text

Step 1

Let’s add text by using the Type Text Tool (T). I am using lyrics from a song: “Hop on the train to nowhere baby”. I am using Archivo Black in white and all caps. I am setting the size to 260 pt, leading to 235 pt, tracking to -40, and aligned right.

Add a text layer with right alignment

Step 2

While selecting the text layer, press Command-T to transform the layer. Rotate by hovering over one of the corners until the rotation symbol comes up. Press Shift for an even rotation and rotate by -90 degrees. Align the text box to the top margin. Press Enter to proceed. 

Rotate the text to meet the top margin

3. How to Create Strokes and Duplicate Objects

Step 1

We need to create vertical lines on the document. I will be turning off the other layers so you can see the lines being created. Head over to the toolbar and select the Line Tool (U). We want to change the settings on the Options bar. Under Fill, choose No Color. Under Stroke, select the blue we used above (#0100c8), set the Stroke to 3 px, and set the Weight to 3 px. Click on the document and draw a single vertical line.

Create a 3px stroke with the same color as the color fill layer

Step 2

Now we need to duplicate this line across the document. Select the layer of the stroke we created in the step above. Press Option-Command-T to transform and duplicate the object. The transform control will appear. To move the stroke, simply hold Shift and tap the right arrow key. Press Enter to set the object.

Duplicate the stroke once

Step 3

Generally to Transform Again we can press Shift-Command-T, but in this case we want to multiply the object so we need to add the Option key. 

Press Shift-Option-Command-T multiple times until the document is filled with the strokes. This method will multiply the strokes on one layer. 

Please note that using Step 2 multiple times to duplicate the object won't work. 

Use Transform again to duplicate the stroke multiple times

4. How to Use the Liquify Tool

Step 1

On the Layers panel, select the text layer, the strokes layer, and the color fill layer. Right-Click > Duplicate layers, and under Destination, make sure the name of the file we are working on is selected. Click OK. While these two duplicated layers are selected, Right-Click > Merge Layers. Hide the original layers.

Duplicate the all the layers and merge them

Step 2

While selecting the newly duplicated layer, head over to Filter > Liquify (Shift-Command-X). The Liquify options window will pop up. I am starting with the Bloat Tool (B), which will expand the selection of where you place the brush, almost like a fish eye effect. I set the Brush Size to 90 and Brush Density to 20. I am clicking between the lines to open up the lines. For this window, you can use Command-Z to go a step backward.

Use the Liquify tool on the newly merged layers Use the Bloat tool to open up spaces in between the lines

Step 3

Using the Twirl Clockwise Tool (C), we can spin the lines around, like waves. I set the Brush Size to 300, Brush Density to 20, and Brush Pressure to 82. Brush pressure is the intensity with which we want to edit the layer.

Use the Twirl Clockwise Tool on the new layer

Step 4

While the Liquify tool is a fun technique, we would like to keep the poster legible. We can use the Forward Warp Tool (W) to move text back into shape. There is no right or wrong for this—you can add as much or as little detail as you want! Click OK when you are done. 

Use the Forward Warp Tool to bring letters back into shape to create a legible poster

Step 5

When using the Liquify tool, it's possible that the layer we were working on has moved, making the edges move towards the centre. Simply activate the original Color Fill layer.

Using the liquify tool can scrunch the layers Activate the Color Fill layer to fill the background

5. How to Save a Photoshop File and a Web File

Step 1

To save the file as a Photoshop file, simply press Command-S and save the image in the desired location. Here you can choose any desired file type.

Save the document as a Photoshop file

Step 2

To save the file for web, head over to File > Save for Web or Shift-Options-Command-S. Select the file type you want to save the document in; I chose JPEG and set 100 for Quality. Under Image size, you can change the pixel size of the image if you have any size constraints and are using the image for the web

On the bottom left-hand side, you can have a preview of the size of the file. This is useful when there are size constraints on a website and you need to lower the quality or the size of the image. 

Click on Save … to choose the location in the new window and click on Save again.

Save the document as a JPEG file for web if there are size constraints

You Are Done! 

Congratulations on finishing the tutorial! Today we've learned to:

  • Use the Liquify tool on typography the same way it is used on photography.
  • Duplicate shapes and objects easily in one layer.
  • Save a jpeg file for web when there are size constraints. 
End Result
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