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The Distortion Funhouse

When you were a kid, did you ever press Silly Putty against the newspaper comics pages to copy a picture, and pull the Silly Putty to stretch the image? Have you wondered why it can take decades for a drawing program to replicate an effect any kid could do? Well wonder no more, because Illustrator 10 now gives you this capability. To be sure, earlier versions of Illustrator could wiggle paths and add perspective-like distortions over an entire object. But overall object distortions were limited to moving the corners of the shape's bounding box, which is just a boring rectangle. The linear distortions you can make this way don't even come close to the wondrous fluidity of a Silly Putty distortion, now do they?

In Illustrator 10 you can really mess up an object, and I mean that in a good way. You can apply warp effects that are like the type warps you might see in Photoshop 6, or you can use a path of any shape to warp objects. You can even distort objects using a mesh that's a lot like a gradient mesh, except you'll be distorting the object, not just colors. Unlike in previous versions of Illustrator, now a distortion doesn't have to be uniform across an object. In the best Silly Putty tradition, you can reshape your distortions interactively by editing the distortion path or the mesh, or using the new liquify tools to literally pull, push, and smush parts of objects. Once you get started, chances are you'll start to get reacquainted with your inner child!


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