About envelopes

Envelopes are objects that distort or reshape selected objects. You can make an envelope out of an object on your artboard, or you can use a preset warp shape or a mesh grid as an envelope. You can use envelopes on any object except graphs, guides, or linked objects.

Mesh grid envelope
Mesh grid envelope

Envelope created from another object
Envelope created from another object

The Layers panel lists envelopes as <Envelope>. Once you apply an envelope, you can continue to edit the original objects. You can also edit, delete, or expand an envelope at any time. You can edit an envelope shape or the enveloped object, but not both at the same time.

Distort objects using an envelope

  1. Select one or more objects.
  2. Create the envelope using one of the following methods:
    • To use a preset warp shape for the envelope, choose Object > Envelope Distort > Make With Warp. In the Warp Options dialog box, select a warp style and set options.

    • To set up a rectangular grid for the envelope, choose Object > Envelope Distort > Make With Mesh. In the Envelope Mesh dialog box, set the number of rows and columns.

    • To use an object as the shape of the envelope, make sure the object is at the top of the stacking order for the selected object. If it’s not, use the Layers panel or an Arrange command to move it up, and reselect all the objects. Then choose Object > Envelope Distort > Make With Top Object.

  3. Reshape the envelope by doing any of the following:
    • Drag any anchor point on the envelope with the Direct Selection or Mesh tool.

    • To delete anchor points on the mesh grid, select an anchor point with either the Direct Selection or Mesh tools, and then press Delete.

    • To add anchor points to the mesh grid, click on the grid with the Mesh tool.

      Tip: To apply a stroke or fill to an envelope, use the Appearance panel.

Edit the contents of an envelope

  1. Select the envelope and do one of the following:
    • Click the Edit Contents button  in the Control panel.

    • Choose Object > Envelope Distort > Edit Contents.

      note: If your envelope consists of grouped paths, click the triangle to the left of the <Envelope> entry in the Layers panel to view and target the path you want to edit.

  2. Edit it as desired.

    Note:

    When you modify the contents of an envelope, the envelope shifts to recenter the results with the original content.

  3. To return the object to its enveloped state, do one of the following:
    • Click the Edit Envelope button  in the Control panel.

    • Choose Object > Envelope Distort > Edit Envelope.

Reset an envelope

  1. Select the envelope.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To reset or switch to a preset warp style, choose a new warp style and set options in the Control panel. If desired, click the Envelope Options button  to open the dialog box and set more options.

    • To reset or switch to a mesh grid envelope, choose Object > Envelope Distort > Reset With Mesh. Specify the number of rows and columns for the mesh grid. Select Maintain Envelope Shape to keep the warp shape intact.

Remove an envelope

You can remove envelopes by either releasing them or expanding them. Releasing an enveloped object creates two separate objects: the object in its original state and the envelope shape. Expanding an enveloped object removes the envelope, but the object retains its distorted shape.

  • To release an envelope, select the envelope, and choose Object > Envelope Distort > Release.
  • To expand an envelope, select the envelope, and choose Object > Envelope Distort > Expand.

Envelope options

Envelope options determine how art is distorted to fit the envelope. To set envelope options, select the envelope object and click the Envelope Options button  in the Control panel, or choose Object > Envelope Distort > Envelope Options.

Anti‑Alias

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.

Fidelity

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.

Distort Appearance

Distorts appearance attributes (such as applied effects or graphic styles) along with an object’s shape.

Distort Linear Gradients

Distorts linear gradients along with an object’s shape.

Distort Pattern Fills

Distorts patterns along with an object’s shape.

note: If you expand the envelope with a Distort option selected, the respective property is expanded separately.

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