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“Psychedelic text” made famous by artists like Wes Wilson during the 1960′s was actually inspired by Alfred Roller’s work with the Vienna Secession movement in the early 1900s, but the analog techniques used to “liquify” the type in those famous Fillmore posters are often poorly imitated. This video tutorial offers a counter-intuitive but useful approach to warping text where Adobe Flash is used for drawing and type manipulation.

Though Flash is most often thought of as a tool used to create animation and interactivity, the Flash drawing tools are unique, behaving like both bitmap and vector tools. For example, an Adobe Photoshop-style lasso tool allows you to select pieces of shapes drawn in flash. Select a region and then drag a piece away. Then choose the white selection arrow and click on either the old shape or the new one you dragged away. Both are vectors with Bézier handles that can be edited a la Adobe Illustrator.

This example uses a two-step process to “break apart” a Text Field into multiple Text Fields containing individual letters (useful for animated text effects). A second “break apart” action converts the text into “shapes”—much like the “Create Outlines” command does in Illustrator or InDesign. From here, we apply an envelope distortion to warp groups of letters or single characters into the desired “psychedelic” style.

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