Is there nondestructive way of achieving the wavy type effect, found below?


  • Hi, we generally want to see you've put forth some effort before offering help. What have you already tried? Include screenshot of your closest attempt and you're more likely to get help finishing it off.
    – Ryan
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 14:30
  • 6
    Regardless of how one accomplishes this effect, it's bloody unreadable and wastes 4/5ths of the page on junk. Don't do this at home unless you think "edgy design" is a good substitute for "communication of meaning".
    – msw
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 21:18
  • 1
    @msw Agreed. It's concert flyer. I assumed it was implied but I definitely would not advocate using experimental typography techniques in formal scenarios.
    – Wilhelm
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 16:52

3 Answers 3


In Illustrator, you can use a Mesh Envelope distort to non-destructively warp text like this:

distorted wavy text

Select your text object, then use Object > Envelope Distort > Make With Mesh... and add however many rows and columns you need to get the desired effect. I used 16 rows and 1 column in my example.

  • Thanks John, it looks like they're playing with perspective too but this is close enough.
    – Wilhelm
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 15:05

IMO, that looks like displacement mapping over a photo of stairs -or fabric over stairs?

  • Someone down-voted you but I think you may be right. Thanks for pointing that out.
    – Wilhelm
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 16:43
  • I agree. I was actually going to suggest using a 3D graphics program. Create a rippled plane and then create a texture for that plane that is your text.
    – Manly
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 15:06
  • @JohnManly What's the industry standard? I've seen names tossed around (Maya, et al) but I'm unfamiliar with 3D platforms.
    – Wilhelm
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 16:55
  • @Wilhelm I'm not sure there really is an "industry standard", per se. I would say that the big ones are Maya, 3DS Max (same company as Maya), Cinema 4D, and ZBrush. I am familiar with Cinema 4D, it's a fairly popular and intuitive program, so that's my preference. As for the others, I think Maya and 3DS Max are very similar, but I've heard that 3DS Max is easier to learn. As for ZBrush, I have typically tended to see most people using that for character modeling, as it can resemble modeling with clay (or so I'm told).
    – Manly
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 18:32

Using a black n white displacement map might get you the distortion effect you want.

The principal is explained here: http://www.photoshopcafe.com/tutorials/dispmap/dispmap.htm

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