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Exploring warping techniques

Discover different warping techniques using the Vector Warp feature in Affinity Designer 2.


Vector warps let you distort objects into familiar shapes or any custom shape you draw. By their nature, they are a lot of fun to play with, and give eye-catching, easily achieved results.

With some understanding of warping techniques, you can master all aspects of warping, including which mesh warp type to choose and how to optimise results.

Warp types

Let’s explore some warp types that can be applied to one or more vector objects.

Quad warps

Quad warps allow you to warp from an object’s outline to produce smooth curved edges that affect all chosen objects. It is called Quad because you warp by dragging either the edge or one of four corners of an object to get results.

This type of warp is often used for decorative text titles, where the curved edges can be concave or convex to create beautifully curved arcs, bends and waves.

Arcs, bends and waves on text created using Quad warps

The same warps can be applied not just to text but to shapes such as flags, rainbows, fans, and more.

Warped shapes created using Quad warps

Perspective warps

These warps are applied similarly to quad warps but, as the name suggests, the warp produced will give a natural one-point perspective effect within the warp area. For example, objects affected by the warp will appear to gradually (and naturally) reduce in height and width the closer they get to the perspective’s vanishing point, just as you’d expect.

For instance, the classic example of a railroad line vanishing into the distance is easily achieved by repeating parallel rectangles. When compared with a quad warp, the latter lacks that ‘key’ sense of perspective, as you can see below.

Perspective warp (left) vs quad warp (right)

Mesh warps

Mesh warps give you total flexibility when it comes to creativity. They are really powerful because you can choose to distort from any point on your chosen objects, giving more abstract results.

Mesh warp of a striped design

Technically, you can warp your design using corner nodes, called junctions, from:

  • Any existing external junction
  • Any existing internal junction
  • Any added junction, external or internal
  • Multiple selected junctions
Before/after mesh warp examples: warping via corner, internal and multiple junctions (nodes), respectively

Fish eye and twist effects are great examples of mesh warps, but you can create any mesh warp you like as they are highly customisable.

Examples of fish eye and twist mesh warps

Other examples that could be mesh warped:

  • Reflections (for ripple effects)
  • Patterns
  • Lattice grids
  • Stripes
  • Checkerboards
  • Halftone effects

Combining and mixing warps

For more complex warps you can create warp-in-warp effects using either the same or different warp types. Using the latter, you could create a mesh warp and then apply a perspective warp to fit it into a billboard scene.

A perspective warp applied to a mesh warp and then added to a billboard mockup

Of course, you can simply clip any warp within an unwarped shape or title text to give an attractive cool warped fill.

A mesh warp clipped within text to create an eye-catching fill

Vector warps in Affinity Designer

Here are a few cool features that are worth knowing about when warping in Affinity Designer 2.

  • Non-destructive behaviour—objects remain unaltered by the warping process.
  • Use groups—warp groups behave like normal groups, so you can ungroup, or add or remove objects to/from the group at any time.
  • Presets—you can get started with familiar shaped presets such as arcs, bends, fish eye or twist warps.
  • Converting quad and perspective warps to mesh warps—converting lets you introduce new junctions for more advanced warping.

If you’d like to try out some vector warping in Affinity Designer 2, you’ll find the various warp types in the Layers panel.

Documentation manager

Andy manages our software documentation here at Serif and is our chief technical writer. In-between falling off his bike cycling into work, he keeps himself busy ensuring all our apps have up to date and accurate help content, and is editor-in-chief of our stunning Affinity Workbooks.