Illustrator CC 2018 – Puppet Warp Tool

With the release of Adobe Illustrator CC 2018, one of several new features added was Puppet Warp. This has been a part of Adobe Photoshop since before Creative Cloud and it really does has a place in Illustrator.

Puppet Warp is can hugely improve your workflow when moving and twisting connected shapes. Single and compound shape changes can be transformed naturally within a few seconds, where previously it required moving multiple points. You can add, move, and rotate custom pins to transform your artwork into different poses much more easily with the Puppet Warp tool. As a bonus, any shapes and paths that have not been pinned are kept unaffected by the changes.

Character animation in Adobe Illustrator is now a much simpler process.

Animating a Character using Puppet Warp

When moving the limbs of the character, imagine the skeleton of the character. Each bone connects at a joint and this is where we will add the Puppet Warp pins. You can use the Expand mesh option in the Properties panel to alter the amount of affected area.

  1. Using the selection tool, select the artwork you want to transform.
  2. Select the Puppet Warp tool from the Tools panel.
  3. Add pins by clicking the joints of the character. This will anchor the joints in place and let the connected bones move around them. Any number of pins can be added, but usually three or more pins will provide realistic results.

    Illustrator Puppet Warp Add Pins

    Adding Pins to the characters joints


  4. Using the Puppet Warp tool, drag the pins to move the artwork. The quality of the result depends on the placement of your pins.

    Moving Pins to animate new character poses


  5. To rotate the characters joints, select a pin and then position on the dotted circle around the pin. Drag to the edge of the dotted circle to rotate the joint.

    Illustrator Puppet Warp Rotate Pins

    Rotating Pins can twist the shape of a character


The Puppet Warp tool in Adobe Illustrator can also be used to transform the shape of text. The example below shows a piece of text that is converted to outlines. Pins are added to the key points in the letters and then moved using Puppet Warp. This is an absolute time saver.

Adobe Illustrator Puppet Warp Text

Illustrator can use Puppet Warp to transform text


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