New Feature: Playlist Center! Pick a topic and let our playlists guide the way.

Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Creating and editing an envelope mesh

From: Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery

Video: Creating and editing an envelope mesh

In this exercise, we are going to re-distort the horse, but this time instead of using Liquify, we are going to apply an envelope mesh. This mesh is identical, in terms of its construction, to the meshes that we saw in the previous chapter. The difference is that instead of distorting colors and gradients, we are distorting path outlines instead. So I have saved my progress as The grassy, found inside the 25_liquify expand folder. And I am going to do a couple of things here. First of all, I am going to twirl open the background layer, and I'm going to meatball that trim-sized object, because it's the full size of the artboard and I am going to need it later.

Creating and editing an envelope mesh

In this exercise, we are going to re-distort the horse, but this time instead of using Liquify, we are going to apply an envelope mesh. This mesh is identical, in terms of its construction, to the meshes that we saw in the previous chapter. The difference is that instead of distorting colors and gradients, we are distorting path outlines instead. So I have saved my progress as The grassy, found inside the 25_liquify expand folder. And I am going to do a couple of things here. First of all, I am going to twirl open the background layer, and I'm going to meatball that trim-sized object, because it's the full size of the artboard and I am going to need it later.

So, if you are working along with me, definitely perform the step. Go up to the Edit menu after meatballing that item and choose the Copy command, or press Ctrl+C on the PC, Command+C on the Mac. Now I am going to twirl background close again, and I'm going to lock it, and I am going to unlock the horse layer. I am also going to twirl open the guides and eye layer right there. And I am going to turn on this envelope object, which is yet another guide, and we will use this guide to define how we distort the creature. All right, now go ahead and twirl that layer closed and twirl open the horse layer.

And I want you to turn off Group, because that's that liquefied version of the horse. And I want you to turn on the tracing object once again, and then go ahead and meatball it to select it. All right, this time we're going to apply a different command. Under the Object menu, go down to Envelope Distort and choose Make with Mesh. And it's got a keyboard shortcut: Ctrl+Alt+M, Command+Option+M on the Mac. Problem is that you get an alert message, and it tells you, "The selection contains objects which cannot be distorted." Well, that doesn't really tell you what in the world the problem is, but here's the problem: you cannot distort a linked image; it has to be embedded into your illustration.

So bring up your Links palette, which you can get either by clicking on this little chain icon if you've got it, or you can go up to the Window menu and you can choose the Links command. And then, once you've done that, you should see this Horse with wings.psd file that is linked to the current illustration. I want you to click the flyout menu icon and choose Embed Image in order to embed that image into the document. Now you will get this dialog box right here. Turn on Show Preview if it's not already on. And notice that you can switch between layer comps. So you may recall from the very first exercise of this chapter that I had set up some layer comps in advance inside of that Photoshop file, and you can choose any one of them.

So you could choose to embed just the horse by itself like so and take away his wings, or you could give him just one wing like so, or you can go with both wings. Now I want wings in this case, so I will select the two wings comp. Be sure to flatten the layers into a single image; that's very important for this effect because otherwise you are really going to slow down the Envelope Distortion feature. All right, click OK in order to embed that image, and it will now appear different. You will see that little embed icon inside the Links panel. Go ahead and hide the Links panel now. Make sure your tracing object is still selected.

It is still a live trace object. So we are not going to be distorting the tracing; we are going to be distorting the underlying image, which is going to cause Illustrator to update the tracing on the fly. And as you'll see, the Envelope feature works in tandem with Live Trace pretty darn quickly. So I am now going to go back to the Object menu, choose Envelope Distort, and choose that same command, Make with Mesh, this time around. And then you just need to specify the size of the mesh you want to apply-- that is, how many rows and how many columns-- just as you would when creating a gradient mesh.

So I am going to turn on the Preview check box so I can see what I am doing. I ultimately arrived at 6 rows and 6 columns. You can go your own way if you want to, but that works out pretty well for these path outlines. Click OK and then go ahead and press the A key to switch to the White Arrow tool and go ahead and grab some of these points and drag them around, and you'll see how much better results you get from the envelope distortion than you got from Liquify, because this time we can drag these mesh points anywhere we want them to be, and so we can change our mind if we like.

Also it's nondestructive. We are not going to give the horse lips like we did last time, like at least I did. And you have an awful lot of control. You are not going to lose anchor points; you are not going to oversimplify; you are not going to add anchor points either. So just go ahead and drag as much as you like. It is a fairly sort of artistic process because you have got to make some determinations, and it's hard to decide sometimes exactly which point you should be dragging inside the grid. In my case, I'm going to grab these three and drag them way up, so that we can move the tips of those wings up to an alarming degree, actually, because now they're way too long.

And I will drag this area up--that is, that point--and I will drag this mesh point up as well, and I'll drag this one over in order to fill in that detail. This guy wants to go up, too, and so forth. You may find that you need to drag several blocks of points at a time, and that may cause problems that were not occurring before, but that's okay; you can always compensate by dragging more of these points around. I will go ahead and tuck this point in like so in order to get that effect. And I am having a fair degree of success actually matching the template here-- the guidelines, that is.

You may or may not, but if you follow what I'm doing on screen, you should meet with some success as well, I would think. I'm also going to go ahead and drag some control handles to scoot things out. So you can drag control handles or anchor points. Either one is going to work for you. I'll go ahead and grab this block of four points and tear them out. A little bit too far, although I really want that tail nudged in the place, so now I'm pressing Shift with my arrow keys in order to nudge those selected points. I will go ahead and grab this guy and tuck him back like so. I need to take out some of these legs as well. I need to take down these two points.

So I am working fairly quickly here, but I just dragging points around. No big deal. Pretty easy stuff to do. Now if at any point you feel like you're not getting sufficient control over what's going on and you'd like to gain more control over the process, you can add an anchor point along one of these mesh segments. And to do that, by the way, I am going to go ahead and tuck this control handle down a little bit. Oops! I lost my mesh. And if that happens to you, just go ahead and marquee someplace or press Ctrl+Y, Command+Y on the Mac, to switch to the Outline mode and click somewhere in the mesh to make it visible again.

Press Ctrl+Y, Command+Y on the Mac, to switch back to the Preview mode--at least that's what's I'm doing. Now I am going to drag this guy up a little bit. So again, let's say you need a little bit of additional control at some point here. Then you can select your Add Anchor Point tool. Just as you can add anchor points to a gradient mesh object, you can do the same thing with an envelope mesh. And so let's say I determined that I need a point right there, so this will be a point of control, in other words, that I'm adding. Then I would press the A key to switch back to the White Arrow tool, and I would drag that point.

But notice after you get done adding a point, Illustrator goes ahead and selects all points in the mesh, which is the problem frankly, but anyway I will press Ctrl+Z key, Command+Z key on the Mac, to undo that movement. I will click on that point to select it independently, and then I can just drag it inward. So again, you have all kinds of control over this process, as much control as you need. And once you feel like you have a halfway decent match, as I am pretty convinced what I do at this point, then just go ahead and press Ctrl+ Semicolon, or Command+Semicolon on the Mac, to go ahead and hide all the guidelines, and then you can gauge the accuracy of your distortion.

I'm pretty happy with this. The one outstanding problem that I have anyway is that this is a weak black object and it doesn't blend in well with its background, and I can't tell Live Trace, "Hey, I don't want to use standard black; I want to use rich black instead--not when I'm doing a black-and-white tracing. So what I've got to do instead is assign some transparency options, namely a blend mode and an opacity mask, and I'll show you how that works in the next exercise.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery

134 video lessons · 28148 viewers

Deke McClelland

Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 37m 22s
    1. Welcome
    2. Linking AI and EPS files to Illustrator
      6m 34s
    3. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      7m 43s
    4. Remapping Mac OS shortcuts
      6m 56s
    5. Installing the Best Workflow color settings
      4m 56s
    6. The color settings explained
      7m 4s
    7. Preserve Numbers vs. embedded profiles
      3m 24s
  2. 1h 35m
    1. My favorite features in all of Illustrator
      1m 21s
    2. Introducing the Transform effect
      5m 30s
    3. Repeating the last effect you applied
      4m 52s
    4. Applying multiple passes of a single effect
      5m 21s
    5. The wonders of editing dynamic artwork
      7m 13s
    6. Applying effects inside effects
      5m 11s
    7. Assigning an effect to an entire layer
      5m 42s
    8. Building a complex bevel effect
      5m 44s
    9. Placing artwork as a Photoshop Smart Object
      4m 55s
    10. Editing that Smart Object in Illustrator
      4m 21s
    11. Rotating continuously overlapping objects
      5m 34s
    12. Adjusting a dynamic transformation origin
      6m 22s
    13. Vector vs. raster effects
      5m 46s
    14. Introducing the Scribble effect
      5m 23s
    15. Copying effects between layers
      4m 20s
    16. Introducing Graphic Styles
      6m 50s
    17. Controlling the Filter Gallery preview
      2m 28s
    18. Document Raster Effects Settings
      4m 31s
    19. Combining and saving styles
      4m 32s
  3. 1h 25m
    1. Airbrushing with points and handles
      1m 45s
    2. Introducing the gradient mesh
      6m 10s
    3. Working with the Mesh tool
      6m 12s
    4. Lifting colors from a tracing template
      5m 47s
    5. Finessing the colors of mesh points
      4m 17s
    6. Creating a mesh with the Mesh tool
      7m 19s
    7. Adding a gradient mesh to a circle
      4m 37s
    8. Adding a gradient mesh to a slender shape
      8m 7s
    9. Creating soft and sharp transitions
      6m 56s
    10. Converting a linear gradient to a mesh
      7m 29s
    11. Editing a linear gradient mesh
      5m 6s
    12. Converting a radial gradient to a mesh
      8m 19s
    13. Editing a radial gradient mesh
      8m 15s
    14. Creating credible cast shadows
      5m 32s
  4. 1h 15m
    1. The best of static and dynamic adjustments
    2. Adding wings to a horse in Photoshop
      6m 52s
    3. Introducing the Warp tool
      6m 29s
    4. Brush size, Detail, and Simplify
      8m 24s
    5. The Twirl, Pucker, and Bloat tools
      6m 13s
    6. The Scallop, Crystallize, and Wrinkle tools
      5m 55s
    7. Creating a mind-blowing custom starburst
      4m 29s
    8. Introducing Envelope Distort
      5m 21s
    9. Editing the contents of an envelope
      5m 20s
    10. Warping an envelope mesh
      5m 20s
    11. Liquifying the contents of an envelope
      7m 7s
    12. Creating and editing an envelope mesh
      7m 59s
    13. Blending an envelope into a background
      4m 35s
  5. 2h 1m
    1. Outlines along a path
      1m 13s
    2. Weaving a pattern throughout an illustration
      6m 24s
    3. Introducing the Brushes panel
      4m 21s
    4. Applying and editing a calligraphic brush
      8m 28s
    5. Applying and scaling art brushes
      6m 6s
    6. Applying and editing a scatter brush
      5m 29s
    7. Formatting and scaling brushed text
      5m 40s
    8. Editing the path outlines of an art brush
      6m 2s
    9. Replacing an existing art brush
      6m 46s
    10. Creating and refining an art brush
      8m 3s
    11. Tiling pattern vs. pattern brushes
      5m 12s
    12. Creating a pattern brush
      8m 20s
    13. Designing the perfect side pattern
      7m 1s
    14. Start, end, and corner tiles
      8m 58s
    15. Expanding and filling brush outlines
      6m 49s
    16. Text brushes vs. type on a path
      6m 55s
    17. Combining a text brush with the Width tool
      8m 43s
    18. Introducing the bristle brushes
      5m 43s
    19. Adjusting the hairs in a bristle brush
      5m 24s
  6. 1h 32m
    1. Charts can be beautiful
      1m 17s
    2. Adding a gradient mesh to a complex path
      8m 9s
    3. Importing and graphing data
      5m 22s
    4. Switching between the kinds of graphs
      6m 8s
    5. Changing the Graph Type settings
      8m 7s
    6. Correcting and editing data
      6m 51s
    7. Selecting and coloring graph elements
      6m 29s
    8. Making nuanced changes to a graph
      8m 6s
    9. The pitfalls of manual adjustments
      8m 45s
    10. Creating and applying graph designs
      6m 28s
    11. Making a basic pictograph
      6m 47s
    12. Assembling sliding graph designs
      8m 33s
    13. Making last-minute tweaks and edits
      5m 37s
    14. Composing and customizing a graph
      5m 44s
  7. 2h 6m
    1. Perspective is all about real life
      1m 44s
    2. Assembling an isometric projection
      8m 5s
    3. Introducing Illustrator's Perspective Grid
      6m 8s
    4. Drawing a basic perspective cube
      8m 1s
    5. One-point, two-point, and three-point perspective
      8m 25s
    6. Creating automatically scaling box labels
      4m 41s
    7. Setting up a Perspective Grid
      6m 45s
    8. Perspective Grid tips and tricks
      6m 39s
    9. Drawing and editing a perspective shape
      5m 20s
    10. Shifting between planes on the fly
      5m 24s
    11. Creating a freeform shape in perspective
      7m 8s
    12. Working with perspective symbols
      8m 57s
    13. Matching perspective with the Shear tool
      2m 50s
    14. Rendering an off-plane path in perspective
      5m 7s
    15. Replicating symbols in perspective
      8m 12s
    16. Mass-modifying perspective instances
      2m 56s
    17. Adding and editing perspective text
      5m 37s
    18. Duplicating perpendicular shapes
      7m 17s
    19. Adjusting multiple shapes on a single plane
      4m 48s
    20. Creating a perspective column
      9m 23s
    21. Duplicating a series of perspective paths
      3m 20s
  8. 1h 25m
    1. Just another dynamic effect
      1m 10s
    2. Introducing the 3D Revolve effect
      5m 1s
    3. The 3D Revolve settings
      7m 24s
    4. Fixing 3D rendering problems
      6m 32s
    5. Establishing symbols for 3D art
      6m 50s
    6. Mapping symbols onto 3D surfaces
      6m 14s
    7. Adjusting shading and light
      6m 25s
    8. Toning down 3D art in Photoshop
      5m 43s
    9. Adding a photographic texture
      7m 36s
    10. Converting from Illustrator paths to Photoshop masks
      4m 50s
    11. Making 3D droplets in Photoshop
      5m 58s
    12. Unifying textures with Smart Filters
      5m 48s
    13. Creating 3D type with Extrude & Bevel
      6m 44s
    14. Coloring and correcting extruded edges
      9m 15s
  9. 1h 3m
    1. Take action today, save effort tomorrow
    2. Introducing the Actions panel
      4m 16s
    3. Initiating a new action
      5m 33s
    4. Recording a practical action
      4m 56s
    5. Four ways to play an action
      4m 27s
    6. Streamlining by disabling dialog boxes
      5m 48s
    7. Editing an action set in a text editor
      7m 20s
    8. Inserting an unresponsive menu item
      6m 16s
    9. Match-processing a folder of files
      5m 42s
    10. Recording a transformation sequence
      6m 11s
    11. Editing and troubleshooting an action
      5m 6s
    12. Recording actions within actions
      7m 21s
  10. 1m 36s
    1. See Ya
      1m 36s

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold

Are you sure you want to delete this note?


Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.