How to Distort Text in Illustrator

by William Harrel
Distort text in Illustrator.

Distort text in Illustrator.

Adobe Illustrator, a leading graphics editing program, supports numerous ways to distort, or change the appearance of, text. You can, for example, use the Create Outlines option to distort each character individually, or you can use the Transform option to distort an entire text block. The Transform submenu contains several distortion alternatives, such as Rotate, which rotates the text on its center control point; Reflect, which makes the text appear as though it's reflected in a mirror, and Shear, which changes the text's perspective on its X and Y axes.

Distort Individual Characters

1

Open an existing Illustrator AI file containing text you want to distort, or start a new Illustrator document by clicking the "File" menu and choosing "New." This opens the New Document dialog box. Click the "New Document Profile" drop-down menu and choose the graphic profile. For example, to create a graphic for the Web, choose "Web." To create a graphic for print document, choose "Print."

2

Select the text you want to distort, or create new text. Select the Text Tool, the sixth tool, in the Tools panel. Click on the page where you want to create a text and type.

You can change the text's font, weight, color and size from the Control panel that spans the application window beneath the menu bar.

3

Right-click the text and choose "Create Outlines." This creates a series of control points, small square handles, on each character.

4

Double-click the character you want to distort and manipulate the control points. For example, to elongate the character, hold the mouse button and drag one of the control points at the top or bottom of the character. To widen the character, drag one of the side control points.

5

Right-click a character you want to distort, choose "Transform," and then choose one of the transform options on the pop-up menu. For example, to change the character's perspective, choose "Shear." This opens the Shear dialog box. From here you can change the horizontal or vertical axis perspective. Select the axis you want to change in the Axis section, and then type the perspective angle, measured in degrees, in the Shear Angle field.

Distort Text Block

1

Open an existing Illustrator AI file containing text you want to distort, or start a new Illustrator document by clicking the "File" menu and choosing "New." This opens the New Document dialog box. Click the "New Document Profile" drop-down menu and choose the graphic profile. For example, to create a graphic for the Web, choose "Web." To create a graphic for print document, choose "Print."

2

Select the text you want to distort, or create new text: Select the Text Tool, the sixth tool, in the Tools panel. Click on the page where you want to create a text and type.

You can change the text's font, weight, color and size from the Control panel that spans the application window beneath the menu bar.

Illustrator encloses the text block in a bounding box with eight control points. You can distort the text by manipulating these handles. For example, to elongate the text block, hold the mouse button and drag one of the control points at the top or bottom of the bounding box. To widen the text block, drag one of the side control points.

3

Right-click the text block, choose "Transform" and then choose one of the transform options on the popup menu. For example, to change the character's perspective, choose "Shear." This opens the Shear dialog box. From here you can change the horizontal or vertical axis perspective. Select the axis you want to change in the Axis section, and then type the perspective angle, measured in degrees, in the Shear Angle field.

Tips

  • check You can distort the text block in 3D space from the 3D Extrude and Bevel Options dialog box. Click the "Effect" menu, choose "3D" and then choose "Extrude & Bevel." This dialog box contains extensive options for distorting the text. You can click the "Preview" check box to see the changes as you make them.
  • check You can make extensive distortions to the text block from the Free Distort dialog box. Click the "Effects" menu, choose "Distort and Transform" and then choose "Free Distort." This opens the Free Distort dialog box. The text box displays in a bounding box with control points at the four corners. Manipulate the handles to distort the text as desired, and then click "OK."

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About the Author

A writer for more than 20 years, William Harrel has authored 19 books, including two titles in the "For Dummies" series. He has also contributed articles to magazines such as "Computer Shopper," "PC World," "Home Office Computing," "Windows Magazine," "MacWorld," "Compute!" and many others.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Bryan Bedder/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images