How to Create a Custom Warp in Adobe Photoshop

The warp transform in Photoshop offers many predefined styles, such as bulge or arc, that, in many cases, will work just fine. In some cases, however, those existing styles are not enough. In this example, a banner will be superimposed on a hot-air balloon and warped to the balloon's shape.

  1. Here's the image with the banner layer that I'm starting with.
    Image with Banner
  2. With the banner layer active, I'll go to Edit > Transform > Warp.
    Edit Menu
  3. I'll start by applying a predefined warp style by going to the Options Bar, clicking the Warp menu, and choosing Arch.
    Warp Menu
  4. On the Options Bar, I'll adjust the Bend value until it looks close to the horizontal curve of the balloon (22%).
    Image with Arched Banner
  5. This doesn't create the bulge I need on the sides of the banner, so I'll go back to the Warp menu and select Custom.
    Warp Menu
  6. There's a grid and nodes on the warp transform bounding box. The nodes are, in effect, Bezier handles that can be used to warp the layer. In the image, the horizontal handles are angled upward due to the Arch style I just applied.
    Warp Transform Bounding Box
  7. Here, I've pulled out the side handles to affect the vertical edges of the banner. I've also adjusted the bottom corners of the bounding box to account for the width of the balloon at that point.
    Image with Banner
  8. The transformation is committed by pressing Enter on the keyboard.
Author: Kate Cahill

Kate Cahill is a graphic designer, writer, and creative director who has developed content for print and web. As creative director, she has produced award-winning work for agencies focused on the pharmaceutical and health and beauty aid industries. She has also served as production manager, with responsibility for the successful fulfillment of long-run print contracts. Kate has been delivering training for Webucator clients since 2010. Her enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, combined with hands-on practical experience, brings an added benefit to her classes. Kate teaches real-world techniques and integration of Adobe software, as well as Microsoft PowerPoint, to produce a fully developed and cohesive brand identity.

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