Illustrator offers many ways to make artwork unique to you and your style. Using Envelope to reshape objects in Illustrator is one way to add unique designs. Envelopes are objects that can be used to reshape other objects. An envelope can be any of the shapes found on the left tools panel. With an envelope, you are reshaping the object to fit the look of the envelope. For example, you may have straight lines and the envelope is a circle, when you apply the envelope the straight lines will be transformed/reshaped to have a circular look. This same principle is true for any shape that is used as an envelope. This can be used on words as well, the envelope can be used to shape words.
How to use Envelope Distort Tool to reshape Objects in Illustrator
In Illustrator, the envelope works like a mask, it hides the parts of the object that is outside the envelope. It goes further by changing the shape of the object to fit the shape of the envelope. Using an envelope to reshape objects is great for designs like logos, and artwork that fits a theme. You can create custom shapes that can be used as an envelope for texts. We will cover this tutorial under the following sections.
- Using envelopes
- Edit the content in an envelope
- Reset an envelope
- Removing an envelope
- Envelope option
1] Using Envelopes
An envelope can be a default object in Illustrator, or it can be a custom shape. An envelope can also be a preset warp shape or a mesh grid. An Envelope can be used on any object except graphs, guides, or linked objects. There are four ways that the envelope can be used on an object in Illustrator.
Note – If you are going to use the envelope on an image that you already created and saved, you may need to remove the background. You may select the image and go to Object then Envelope distort and the options are greyed out. This can be a result of the image having a background. You can use the Image trace to remove the background.
There are three presets that can be used to Envelope distort objects. Remember that objects can also be text.
Make with warp
One envelope method that can be used on an object in Illustrator is Warp. Select the object or objects then go to the top menu bar and choose Object then Envelope distort then Make with warp or press Alt + Shift + Ctrl + W.
The Warp options window will pop up and you can choose the options that you want. Click the Preview option so that you can see the live changes on the object as you make them in the Warp option window.
You can choose the Warp style that you want.
You can choose the percentage of the bend that you want. You can also choose the direction of the warp whether Horizontal or Vertical. When you are finished, click Ok to confirm the changes.
This is the finished Warp with the FishEye style, a 100% bend, and the directions (horizontal and vertical) set to zero.After you have exited the Warp options window you can still make changes to the object by selecting it. When selected you will see the grid, select the Direct Selection tool then click on the image and you will see some handles. You can click these handles to warp the object.
Make with mesh
Another envelope method that can be used on an object in Illustrator is Mesh. Select the object or objects then go to the top menu bar and choose Object then Envelope distort then Make with mesh or press Alt + Ctrl + M.
The Envelope mesh option window will appear, here you can choose the number of rows and columns. The default number of rows is four and the default number of columns is four. Click the Preview option to see the live changes as they are made on the object.
You can change the number of rows and columns to fit your need then press ok, it will seem like nothing happened, however, whenever you select the image, the mesh will be there.
To make changes to the image, select the image then select the Direct Selection tool, and click on the object. You will see some of the points change to white, grab these points and pull them in any direction to reshape the object.This is the object with some reshaping done to it by clicking the points/handles with the Direct Selection tool and dragging in the desired directions.
If you need to make edits, simply click on the object with the Direct Selection tool and drag the handles to make changes.
Make with top object
This method of reshaping would use another object to reshape the object that you want to reshape. Whatever the object is, the object to be reshaped will take its shape.This is the original image.
To reshape the image using another image or Make with top object, choose the object to be reshaped whether text or image. You then select the shape that you want to use to reshape the object. The shape that will be used to reshape the other object has to be in front. When you create the object, right-click on it and choose Arrange then choose Bring to front. The image that will be used to shape does not have to have fill but you need a stroke so that you can see it.
The next step is to reshape the object. In this case, the cupcake is the image to the reshaped and the polygon is the one that will be used to reshape it.
Select both objects and go to the top menu bar and chose Object then Envelope distort then Make with top object or press Alt + Ctrl + C.
This is the image when it is reshaped by the polygon.If you click on the image you will see the outline of each shape.
2] Edit the content in an envelope
To edit the content of an Envelope, click on the image and go to the top menu bar and click the Edit Content icon, it looks like a star. You can also edit the content of an envelope by going to the top menu bar and clicking Object then Envelope distort then Edit contents or pressing Shift + Ctrl + P. The envelope will shift to recenter around the content that has been edited.
3] Reset an envelope
Select the envelope
Use one of the following options.
- To reset or switch to a preset warp style, go to Object then Envelope distort then Reset with warp. The Warp options window will appear, choose a new warp style and set options in the Control panel. You can also click the Envelope Options button to open the dialog box and set more options.
- To reset or switch to a mesh grid envelope, go to Object then Envelope Distort then Reset With Mesh. Set the number of rows and columns for the mesh grid. Select the Preview option to show the changes as they are made. Select Maintain Envelope Shape to keep the warp shape intact.
4] Removing an envelope
Envelopes can be removed by either expanding or releasing them.
To expand an envelope select the envelope then go to Object the Envelope Distort then Expand. The envelope will be removed but the reshaped image will remain in the shape of the envelope.
To release an envelope select the envelope then go to Object the Envelope Distort then Release. The envelope will be removed from the image. The envelope will become a separate image from the image that was distorted. With this option, the distorted image will take back its original shape, and the envelope image will regain its features.
5] Envelope options
The envelope options help to make more changes to the distortion process. To bring up the Envelope option select the envelope then go to Object then Envelope distort then Envelope options.
Smooths rasters when distorted with an envelope. Deselecting Anti‑Alias can decrease the time it takes to distort rasters.
Preserve Shape Using
Specifies how rasters preserve their shape when distorted by nonrectangular envelopes. Select Clipping Mask to use a clipping mask on the raster, or Transparency to apply an alpha channel to the raster.
Specifies how precisely you want the object to fit the envelope mold. Increasing the Fidelity percentage can add more points to the distorted paths and increase the time it takes to distort the objects.
Distorts appearance attributes (such as applied effects or graphic styles) along with an object’s shape.
Distort Linear Gradients
The gradient would be distorted to fit the new shape of the object.
Distort Pattern Fills
The pattern would be distorted to fit the new shape of the object.
How do you reshape an object in Illustrator?
There are various ways to reshape or curve objects in Illustrator. One easy way to curve is to use the Envelope distort. Select the object then go to the top menu bar and choose Object then Envelope distort then Make with warp. You would then click the down arrow beside the Style option and choose Arc. This will curve the object with the ends down. you can make adjustments to fit your taste. You then click Ok to conform and close. You can make edits to the curve by using the Direct section tool to move the points.
How do you envelope warp an object?
An Envelope can be used on any object such as text, images, or shapes. Envelope distort cannot be used on graphs, guides, or linked objects. If you have a saved image with a background, you will have to remove the background before the Envelope distort will work.