How To Use the Warp Tool in Photoshop

Despite Photoshop’s status as a powerful image editing tool, there are quite a few users who don’t do much more than crop pictures or apply a few random filters. While it might take time to master some of the more advanced functions of this software, it’s essential for anyone who wants to become a serious graphic designer. One of the most interesting tools in the Photoshop arsenal allows you to artistically distort the dimensions of all or part of an image. Here’s how to use the warp tool in Photoshop and a look at this function’s different modes.

Standard Warp
In its most basic functionality, the warp tool allows you to augment an object by stretching or pinching certain points. This can be useful for a few different tasks such as creating perspective, wrapping text around objects, breaking up boring patterns or removing imperfections. While you can’t use this tool on your background, you can copy and paste that image onto a new layer. When you use the warp tool, a rectangle with nine boxes will appear that you can resize to fit over the area you wish to distort. From there, you can drag the various intersection points to achieve your desired effect.

Puppet Warp
To understand the functionality of this tool, you should think of the classic image of a marionette. When you pull a certain string, the puppet’s arm or leg will respond. The same thing happens with puppet warp, which means you can move a subject’s limbs or change the way other objects appear in a photograph without affecting the surrounding scenery.
For this function, you’ll need to isolate the object you’d like to manipulate before applying a warping mesh. From there you can apply pins as anchor points for the distortion. You have control over how rigid your transformations are, and a good rule of thumb is to mimic the natural rigidity of the object being manipulated. For example, an arm has a solid bone running through the middle, so you’d want to use a rigid warp to avoid unnatural bends in the middle.
Embrace Creative Distortion
With knowledge of how to use the warp tool in Photoshop, you’ll be able to change the very positioning of objects long after you’ve clicked the shutter button on your camera. To get the most out of this function, you’ll need to master a few other concepts such as paths, but it will make you a better graphic designer. Even if you aren’t a photographer yourself, you can use Shutterstock’s library of royalty-free images to find the perfect picture to use in your next project.


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