Customizable Warp Transformation in Photoshop 2020

Customizable Warp Transformation in Photoshop 2020

One of the new features in Photoshop 2020 is the ability to customize warp transformation. From now and on you can add as many control grid lines as you need what makes this functionality much more useful. More control lines, especially custom made lines and mesh points mean more precise control. I was facing a problem with a fixed 3x3 grid in the past and usually, Puppet Warp was there to cover limitation. Now that we have custom control grid lines option I can not believe that this feature wasn't implemented before.

In this tutorial, I will introduce to you new options available when using the warp transformation command in Photoshop.
Example Puppet Warp in use because limitation of warp transformation
Example of image where Puppet Warp is used because limitation of warp transformation.

What is the advantage and how to use it

The very first question you may have is what is the actual advantage of adding more control grid lines? Well, in the past there was limiting a 3x3 grid. In short, a number of control grid lines and points are a limitation for many complex wrap operations because of a lack of precision. An increased number of grid lines is only one part of this extremely useful update. The second part is custom control grid lines which can be added precisely exactly where you need them to make complex warp transformation possible.

How to access and use new warp options

The very first thing you want to know is how to create mesh warp and how to add more custom grid lines in case you need them.

Accessing warp options remains the same but controls have increased. Here are the steps:

  • Select a layer or image area that you want to manipulate using warp transformation controls.
  • Go to Edit > Transform > Warp. Alternatively, press Ctrl/Cmd + T then right-click and choose Warp or use Switch Between Free Transform And Warp Modes button in the Options bar.
  • By default, you will see only four corner handles. Use Grid drop-down list in the Options bar to create some of the pre-defined grids or choose Custom then specify the number of Columns and Rows in the Custom Grid Size dialog.
switch between free transform and warp modes
One way to access and use new warp options is to enter free transform mode using Ctrl/Cmd + T keyboard shortcut then to click on Switch between free transform and war modes icon in the options bar.

You can always add more grid lines:
  • Click on any of the Split icons in the Options bar. The first icon allows you to click and create Split Corsswire, the second icon is allowing Split Warp Vertically and the third icon is allowing you to Split Warp Horizontally. The same options are available from Edit > Transform sub-menu
  • Another way to split warp is by using the keyboard shortcut Alt/Opt:
    • Hold down Alt/Opt and click inside mesh to create crosswire split.
    • Hold down Alt/Opt and click near-horizontal grid line to split vertically or click near-vertical grid line to split horizontally.

Warp split options in the Options bar in Photoshop
One way to to add grid line after creating initial warp mesh is to use Split icons from the options bar.

How to manipulate mesh shape

Once created mesh grid is not very useful if you do not use it. There are couple of of ways to manipulate mesh shape using mesh control points, handles to adjust the curve or by clicking inside mesh area and dragging.

To manipulate created mesh do the following:

  • Click anywhere inside the mesh or click on the control point/segment line then drag. You can also adjust the curve for what you must click on the control point then use control handles.
  • To edit the warp you must click on the grid line to activate control points.

How to manipulate warp mesh in Photoshop
After creating initial warp mesh click anywhere inside the mesh and drag or select single or multiple mesh points then nudge or drag them. Selected mesh points will have rectangle around to indicate which points are included in selection.

How to select/deselect mesh points and how to delete grid lines

In this section I will explain to you how to manipulate mesh points and grid lines. It is important to know how to select/deselect mesh points and grid lines to manipulate them. It is also useful to know how to delete grid lines in case you do not need them or you have added grid line by mistake.

To select mesh points do the following:
  • Click on a single mesh point to select it.
  • Shift + click to select multiple mesh points.
  • Shift + drag marquee over points that you want to select. Selected points will have rectangles around as confirmation.

To deselect mesh points do the following:

  • Shift + click on a single selected point to deselect it.
  • Shift + drag marquee over selected mesh points to deselect them.

How to delete grid lines

  • To delete the gridline you must select it then press the Delete button on the keyboard or use Edit > Transform > Remove Warp Split.
  • To delete horizontal and vertical grid lines you must select mesh point through which both lines are passing then press Delete on the keyboard or use Edit > Transform > Remove Warp Split.

remove warp grid line in photoshop
To remove or delete mesh grid line you must select it. The next step is to use Delete key or Edit > Transform > Remove Warp Split menu item.

How to use numeric values from the Options bar

You can not enter numeric values in Bend, H and V text fields with Custom option choose from warp drop-down list. Choose some of the presets then enter numeric values to set bend (Bend text field), horizontal distortion (X text field), and set vertical distortion (Y text field).

Yes, it works with Smart Object

If you are wondering if warp transformations can be used on Smart Object layer non-destructively, the answer is yes.

How to reset warp transformation

To reset warp transformation to default value click on Reset the warp button in the Options bar.
reset warp mesh from options bar in photoshop
To reset warp mesh to default values use reset icon in the options bar.

How to confirm/cancel warp transformation

To confirm or cancel use icons in the Options bar Commit transform and Cancel transform. Another faster way is using keyboard shortcuts: Enter/Return to confirm or Esc to cancel.

Product used in this tutorial:
Adobe Photoshop 2020 (version 21.0.1)

Warp images, shapes, and paths


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