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deform filter to display the deform panel
Drag and distort the handles (and image)
The deform filter in Affinity Photo can be used to distort and transform images in countless ways to deform images and type etc. The deform filter in Affinity Photo can be found in the distort sub menu of the filters menu in Affinity Photo. It is one of my favorite filters for modifying images as well as other resources in the application such as radial and extreme circular font shapes and eps designs. You can use the deform filter to create very subtle deform actions such as move a small part of an image or you can use the deform filter to create truly weird and abstract artworks.
You can use the deform filter in Affinity Photo with channels as well as layers and much more.
There are very few initial options in the panel - master deform and rigid / similarity constraint (have to say I have seen little difference between those two but apparently rigidity drags only related pixels and similarity affects surrounding pixels to be transformed and rotated but it is often very subtle).
The actual functionality comes from
clicking the image or layer to add a handle and then select
move the handle as well as adding other handles and again selecting and moving the handles.
The tool doesn't appear to work at first if you only add one handle, it does need two or more handles to work and deform.
Click the document to add a handle for the deform filter.
You can click multiple deform handles (it only works when you have more than one handle) Also, if you move the master back to 0% then the image will go back to its original state. You can select the handle and move and pull them from and towards other handles or pins to distort the image. You can click on the handle and delete them by pressing the delete on the keyboard though there is no 'clear all' which would be a nice addition to the deform filter.
Another feature that would be nice, a preset of the handles so the same layout (proportionally) can be added to any document so if you add handles all the way around an image, the preset can do the same or add a circle of presets to the center of an image then the preset can do the same (that does not exist at present). So if you want to pin multiple handles on the image and not see any distortion, then just click and do not select and move the handle and this can be done across the document such as all the way around the edges which is good for holding the main picture in place.
You can add handles all the way around an image and then just distort parts of the center of the image and drag those out to create interesting edge effects or frame distortions (though all are warped and curved and not straight edged distortions)
It would be another useful feature is there was a 'don't move the edge' option or a pin edges command. You can use the marque to select multiple handles to move at the same time and that can also be useful to create an interesting deform effect of pulling all the handles (or perhaps not all) at the same time
Say you have an image of a face or a piece of machinery or perhaps a car.
You can click around the edge of the image (of the car, face etc) and then go to a single part of the image and add a handle and drag that outwards from that position and that part of the image (say the mouth or eye or car wheel etc) will be dragged out to the point where you release the mouse.
You can then repeat this with different handles so multiple copies of a wheel or eye or mouth can be placed throughout the image (all will be distorted and rotated in some way)
You can then repeat this deformation effect with the result of the previous filter to create a truly mixed up and abstract image
The image on the left does end up looking pretty chilling with multiple eyes and distortions but would be great for surreal effects in movies perhaps
You can add a artistic text layer and distort that with the deform filter. You can add multiple handles inside as well as outside of the text area and drag and distort the type layer in countless ways. You can also use a similar approach to as above and add multiple handles (all fixed) around the edge of the type and then click into the type layer (or outside of the layer) and then drag that handle to pull out parts of the type in a warped style and multiple handles can be added and dragged and multiple warped area of type can be blended and warped together to create some truly extreme deform filter type.
You can also multiple text layers and deform those text layers individually to create even more extreme type effects. The deform filter can also be combined with other filters such as the powerful mirror filter effect.
You can also use the deform filter and then apply that and then use the deform filter on the same text layer and create even more unsual type distortions. You can also simply use the repeat deform command found in the filters menu.
As with the type / text layers, you can also use the deform filter to distort and deform a shape layer such as a star or polygon layer.
The deform filter is a destructive filter effect so you cannot then change the number of points in a star etc after the filter application. You can select all around the edge of the shape (such as a star) and then add a handle to the center or outside the shape and then drag and distort that artwork.
You can also simply add a couple of handles and drag those to deform a star or shape layer in all kinds of ways.
Once you have applied the deform filter, the filter can be re-applied either by using the deform filter or going to the repeat filter command (and applied multiple times)
One frustrating thing with the deform filter (as well as others) is that there is no blending mode attached so if you want to add in some blending with other layers as well as the original artwork then the only way is to use the duplicate command (or use the artwork on a layer if being distorted on top of an image) and then use the blending mode in the layer panel (as well as opacity)
layer menu and duplicate
change blending mode
go to the filter and distort and deform
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Updated: August 2017