Envelope/Distort Tutorial


This tutorial will be teaching you how to envelope/distort a symbol/pattern on to an object. This can be very useful in some situations like trying to make a 3D tire vector. We’ll be starting out with a given pattern so if you want to use mine, get it here.

Requirements: 1. Adobe Illustrator 2.  Basic Skills in Illustrator (Pen tool) 3. A pattern or symbol

(1) I’ll provide the illustrator file to get you started. Download it and open it and when you do, you’ll find the tire pattern in the middle.

(2) Now we just need to make it into a symbol so drag the whole pattern into the empty space in the symbols tab. If you don’t see your symbols tab, go to Window>Symbols.

(3) Now we can drag the symbols back in to our working pace. Hold option(for mac) or alt(for windows) so that we copy the selection and not just move it. You will see two small arrows(black and white) when you drag a copy. Do this action again by clicking (Command+D for mac) or (Ctrl+D for windows) and do this till you make about 6 copies of the selection.

(4-8) Now make a circle of one color and make a copy to right of it and change that second circle’s color. Draw a rectangle that is long as the diameter of the circles and the width that tangents from the tops of the circles (see 2nd picture). Now go to pathfinder and divide (Effect>Pathfinder>Divide or just go to Window>Pathfinder). Now that the circles are divided, I’m going ahead to delete some parts so I only have the crescent on the right (see picture). Now all we have to do next is to unite all of the crescent so go to effect>pathfinder>unite.

(9-11) Now make the two items the same size. Group together just the patterns and make a rectangle that’s the same width and length. Now bring the tire pattern over the rectangle then select them both and do Object>Envelope Distort>Make with Top Object; now we can freely edit the shape of this pattern.

(12-13) Move the rectangle over the crescent  and try to match the curves (but not too exact). Now we can move the handles to create a 3D look to it (nice tire treads right?).


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About Fadi G.

I am a digital artist and I hope to push the bounds of creativity. I will produce videos, illustrations, animations, and more interesting things.

Posted on January 15, 2010, in Tutorials. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Didn’t even know about the Envelope effect. Thanks, this should help me out a lot.

  2. I had no idea this could be done, but I am not surprise it is you that figured out how.

  1. Pingback: What’s New? « FaDesigns

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