The Mesh tool in Illustrator is a versatile tool, and when it comes to distorting type, it can save you hours. In this short video walkthrough, designer Gordon Reid (aka Middle Boop) explains a simple trick for creating eye-catching custom lettering using the Envelope Distort command and a mesh.
If you're new to envelopes, they give you the ability to reshape selected objects. Found under Object>Envelope Distort, there are three ways to create them. You can set up a rectangular grid; use an object on your artboard as the envelope shape; or use a preset warp shape.
Here, Gordon uses Envelope Distort to apply simple but powerful distortion effects to type. As he explains, once you’ve created your envelope, it's easy to reshape your object by dragging or deleting anchor points using either the Mesh tool or Direct Selection tool. (And you can add points using the Mesh tool, too.)
“This trick is the perfect technique to play about with when you're working on a type-based poster, logo or interesting type treatment,” Gordon explains. “Once I mastered the Mesh tool, it saved me countless hours trying to alter type with different effects and types of distortion.”
Distort lettering with Illustrator’s Mesh tool
When combined with Envelope Distort in Illustrator, it's particularly effective for creating experimental custom type – as Gordon shows in the tutorial above.
“The Mesh tool sits really well for creating a distorted type treatment,” he explains. “It can take a little while to get the hang of using the mesh, and every piece of type will have slightly different effects. This makes it both versatile and organic, because you're never 100 per cent sure what outcome you'll get. When it comes to experiential type treatments, or creating a 'wobbly effect', it saves a lot of time.”
Get creative with #10MinSkills
Gordon’s quick tutorial for creating distorted custom type is all part of our #10MinSkills campaign. We're challenging you to set aside just 10 minutes every day to learn a new vector-based skill – and to help, we’ve collaborated with some of the industry’s most exciting creatives to share their best time-saving techniques. You'll find them all in the #10MinSkills section of our blog.
Here's how it works: by repeating each technique for 10 minutes every day, you’ll quickly establish handy new habits that will speed up your workflow, helping you work more efficiently and freeing up more time for the fun part: being creative.
Be a better designer
Why is this so important? Well, because thanks to services like Instagram, anyone can be a designer at the touch of a button. That means it’s more important that ever for professional creatives to know their tools.
You need to learn your software. But software develops faster than our habits, and few of us harness the full power available at our finger tips.
We want to help change that with #10MinSkills. We'll be adding more tips, tricks and techniques to the blog over the coming weeks, so it's worth book-marking this section in your design resources.
Vector editing tools
As well as a collection of time-saving vector techniques, you’ll also find a host of Illustrator plug-ins on our website that will super-charge your workflow – whatever field you work in.
These include VectorScribe – the Swiss army knife of vector editing tools; and Texturino, which lets you add raster-based textures as a live effects to live text, gradient meshes, filled paths and raster objects.
In addition, you'll find other helpful tools for getting more out of Illustrator, such as Phantasm, for color control like Photoshop’s; mirroring tool MirrorMe, with live functionality for quick and flexible pattern, fractal and kaleidoscope effects; and WidthScribe, which lets you customise the width of multiple vector strokes and taper line ends – plus a lot more.
Try a free 14-day trial here.
Meet the designer: Gordon Reid
Designer and illustrator Gordon Reid is the brains behind Middle Boop, an award-winning creative agency that’s provided art direction, branding and graphic design for the likes of the BBC, Toyota, HSBC, Visa, Red Bull, 4AD and Warp Records.
Based in north London, Gordon has also worked with agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, McCann, Publicis and Grey London. His work has been exhibited around the world, and he’s spoken at global conferences including OFFF Barcelona, FITC Amsterdam, D&AD and The London Design Festival at the V&A. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.