Photoshop has always been very good at warping and bending images or text by using its many Transform tools. If you’ve been using Adobe Photoshop a long time, you may not know some of the shortcuts and extra options that have developed in more recent versions. If you’re using CS6 upwards, forget about using the transform, warp tool, and have a try at using the newer distort filters instead.


Open a new document and create a simple line of text, black on white. Rasterize the layer (right click on the text layer and choose rasterize layer) and then with the text layer highlighted from the top bar choose Filter, Distort, Wave. This will bring up the Wave dialogue.

The preview option is invaluable when distorting text, since generally you want the text to still be readable. With the Wave option a real time preview of any wave effects you apply will be shown on the right hand side. Also, all effects are based on mathematics, so where using the warp tool manually can give ugly squashed, lopsided effects, this gives you smoother, more professional looking waves.

Keep it simple at first, stick with the default Sine wave and set your generators option to a low number 1 to 5, then try altering the minimum and maximum Wavelength and Amplitude. Notice how each changes your text. Less is more if you want to keep your text legible, so find a happy balance of attributes where your text has a gentle wave in it, now try clicking the Randomise button, it will give you a variety of effects all within the parameters you have set.

Once you’ve finished playing with the Sine wave, try Triangle and Square waves. The Square effects tends to split your text more often, but remember the way it distorts the text, that way if in the future you ever do need that sort of effect, you know where to go for it.

Exploring the other distort effects on text, especially using a combination of two or three can give great effects, experiment and see what you can create. Just remember no-one wants to see wavy text all the time, with every piece of text, but use it sparingly and it can be a great addition to any image.

[Image via Russ Payne]