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Apr 07

illustrator Pucker and Bloat Effect and more

2008 at 11.15 am posted by Veerle Pieters

There are lots of hidden secrets in Illustrator. Even I have the feeling I only use only a part of the application. That’s probably because I’m sometimes stuck in my old habit of doing things. If you’ve been working with the application since version 3 like I do, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s good to explore new and better ways. Ways to do things faster and in a more flexible way. Today I’ll show you how to use the Pucker & Bloat Effect. It’s another cool Distort & Transform Effect.

Use your creativity and imagination

Use Your Imagination

First of all, this is not one of my typical tutorials where I explain things from A till Z. Instead, I'll give you some hints on how I created the illustration above and along the way I give you some tips on how to keep your effects flexible. Let me start with some basic information...

Create rings using the Pathfinder

Create rings using the Pathfinder's Subtract from shape area

If you've followed my previous article, the above image doesn't need much of an explanation since you had some practice already. Just to refresh your memory, here is how you create a ring:

  • Select the Circle Tool and craw a circle (holding down shift key)
  • Draw another smaller circle on top
  • Select both circles using the Selection Tool (black arrow)
  • Click Horizontal Align Center and then Vertical Align Center from the Align palette or Toolbar at the top
  • Click the Subtract from shape area option from the Pathfinder palette and click the Expand button

Add Pucker & Bloat Effect

Illustrator Pucker & Bloat Effect

With the ring still selected go to Object > Path and select Add Anchor Points. Now go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat.

Illustrator Pucker & Bloat Effect

Move the slider to the left.

Illustrator Pucker & Bloat Effect

Move the slider to the right.

Experiment with the shape of the object. Try a circle, a square or a hexagon etc., add (more) anchor points, then apply the effect.

Good to know tips!

Advantages of Effects versus Filters

Remember when you apply an effect, the Effect can be modified at all time after it has been applied. You can double click the effect in the Appearance palette. If you apply a Filter however, this isn't possible. The path is permanently modified. Make sure to choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat. This way you remain this flexibility.

Effect versus Filter

Only if you are 100% you won't change the result of the effect, you can choose to expand it via Object > Expand. This way the path will be adapted to its new shape. Here is what I did to achieve the effect shown in the image:

  • Fill the shape with a Radial Gradient (Orange in center to yellow)
  • Duplicate the Fill in the Appearance palette
  • Apply white color to the duplicate Fill
  • Select the Gradient Fill in the Appearance palette
  • Choose Effects > Path > Offset Path.. (Offset: 24, Joins: Miter and Miter Limit: 4)
  • Choose Effects > Stylize > Feather... (40 px)
Create Graphic Styles for the Effects you like

Create Graphic Styles

If you like the effects you've created and you want to apply them to other objects in the future, then you can create a Graphic Style simply by dragging the object into the Graphic Styles palette. You can reapply the style effect by selecting the object and then clicking the Style in the Graphic Styles palette.

Editing the appearance of an object via the Appearance palette

Editing the appearance of an object via the Appearance palette

After applying a style to an object, you can still change the settings for each Effect, Fill or Stroke such as changing the color of the gradient, the Feather settings etc. in the Appearance palette.

Create Symbols of objects you want to reuse

It can be a good idea to create Symbols of objects you want to reuse in your design. To create a Symbol, just drag the object in the Symbols palette. To add an instance of the Symbol in your design, just drag the Symbol from the palette on the Canvas. When you change the Symbol's original object (simply double click it in the Symbol's palette), all instances of the Symbol will be updated.

Using Symbols in combination with the Spraying Tool can be handy when you create patterns and you want to keep a certain randomness. Experiment with the Symbol Tools to edit the sprayed symbols. This tool can be a real timesaver in your production process.

Dark version

Use Your Imagination

No Pen Tool was used to create the above illustration. Remember, just use your creative brain and your curiosity to learn and experiment and you'll come a long way :) Enjoy!

Want to learn more?

VECTORTUTS+ Vector Tutorials and More A good and not expensive source to learn more about Illustrator, Photoshop, or web design is by joining the Tuts+ sites. You get access to the source files for just $9 a month. So your ONE membership gives you access to members-only content for ALL the Plus sites. I've written a tutorial for the Vector Tuts section.




permalink this comment Alex Buga Mon Apr 7, 2008 at 10.26 am

Care to share your swatches palette?

This tutorial made my day. It’s very refreshing. If any of you remembers the movie Lord of War, Nicholas Cage had a line “This was refresssshing” :D



permalink this comment Carrie Drazin Mon Apr 7, 2008 at 11.21 am

Your colors are stunning. . .  you make everything look so easy. thanks for another great lesson.



permalink this comment Christopher Hill Mon Apr 7, 2008 at 11.38 am

Very nice effect.

Do you know if the same kind of method is also available in Photoshop? Seems a good way to create all kinds of interesting effects.



permalink this comment Yves Mon Apr 7, 2008 at 12.01 pm

Thanks for sharing your tasteful creations !



permalink this comment David Madden Mon Apr 7, 2008 at 12.04 pm

You should write an illustrator book.

Yet another great post, thank you.



permalink this comment Libby Mon Apr 7, 2008 at 12.36 pm

Fun tutorial, thanks!



permalink this comment JasonR Mon Apr 7, 2008 at 01.16 pm

I really enjoy your site and the tutorials. It has inspired me to spend more time with Illustrator. To make it fun, I started an Illustrator-based Web comic as a springboard for my studies. It still needs a lot of work, but I could not resist naming two of the main characters after the pucker and bloat distortion filters. Pucker is an octopus and bloat is a sea cucumber. I am still working on representations for zig, zag, tweak and twist. If anyone has ideas of what marine creature would best be represented by those names/filters, let me know. Thanks.



permalink this comment Kevin Spear Mon Apr 7, 2008 at 04.21 pm

Some great techniques in Illustrator. Just goes to show we need to keep exploring the possibilities of the software even when it’s easy to get into our own little ruts.



permalink this comment bopper Mon Apr 7, 2008 at 04.45 pm

this is why I love this blog!



permalink this comment Eva Mon Apr 7, 2008 at 05.32 pm

:O *amazed*
Congrats on another EXCELLENT tutorial.
Your imagination stuns me.
I have just one question: How did you make the background? Its lovely =)



permalink this comment Matías Tue Apr 8, 2008 at 01.11 am

Really wonderfull tutorial. Full of colors.




permalink this comment bene Tue Apr 8, 2008 at 08.14 am

Yet another great tutorial, thanks.

@Alex Buga: I saw Veerle’s color combinations on the Kuler website of Adobe, perhaps you should take a look at them.



permalink this comment Domenic Tue Apr 8, 2008 at 11.29 am

Your tutorials are fantastic. You are at the top of my RSS feed in Mail.

Thanks for this great tutorial!



permalink this comment Dapitto Tue Apr 8, 2008 at 01.17 pm

awsome tutorial for me a beginner
you made those simple step perfectly

thx for ur tutor.
i’m still learning.



permalink this comment Veerle Tue Apr 8, 2008 at 03.26 pm

Thanks for the positive comments :)

Alex Buga said:

Care to share your swatches palette?

I will. Keep an eye on what’s coming next and all will be revealed ;) In the meantime you can enter ‘Veerle’ in the search field on Kuler as Bene states for some inspiration.

Christopher Hill said:

Do you know if the same kind of method is also available in Photoshop?

Hm don’t know really to be honest. I think the answer is no, but I’m not 100% sure here. I guess you’ll need to explore the Distortion filters. There is no Pucker & Bloat in there though.

JasonR said:

I started an Illustrator-based Web comic as a springboard for my studies. It still needs a lot of work, but I could not resist naming two of the main characters after the pucker and bloat distortion filters. Pucker is an octopus and bloat is a sea cucumber.

That’s really funny :) Nice drawings too.

Eva said:

How did you make the background? Its lovely =)

Thanks ;) I’ve created this in Photoshop starting from a plain color. I used the Texturizer filter (under Filter > Texture > Texturizer…).  If memory serves me right, I believe I chose ‘Canvas’ as texture and then I used about 73% of scaling and a relief of 2 and ‘Top Left’ as light direction.



permalink this comment Erki Tue Apr 8, 2008 at 06.09 pm

Can I request a tutorial about idea generation? :) You always have such great illustrations, how do you get ideas what to make this time? Or you just open Illustrator and start jamming? :) (Kinda hard to do for me who doesn’t have the skills (yet) though. (Excuses;))



permalink this comment Janine a.k.a. Ms.Bananahama Tue Apr 8, 2008 at 08.57 pm

wow…thank you so much!! this is the first time i comment on your stuff…but i’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months and i am SO inspired by your work. i just adore it :)
i am just about to open up illustrator to try it out.




permalink this comment Jackie Tue Apr 8, 2008 at 11.08 pm

Veerle,you have done it again! I LOVE this effect as a lot of my workis about geometric designs and crisp edges.

You are far more helpful then all of my tutors at Uni put together ever were,and I’ve learned much more from you.

Only problem now is that I’ll be up half the night trying out different effects!! Bring on the coffee…....



permalink this comment Adam Wed Apr 9, 2008 at 06.43 am

In the last month I have been trying the pucker and bloat effect more. I caught it on some tutorials and my logos are getting some good use from it. I have been using Illustrator for about 6 years and it’s amazing how much you really don’t use. Thanks for sharing this and keep up the great work! I am going to pass it along to some designer friends of mine.



permalink this comment Joan M. Wed Apr 9, 2008 at 07.30 am

That’s an interesting array of examples. These filters are very often ignored, but they can be very handy to generate shapes like the ones you show here. Thanks!



permalink this comment gr8pixel Wed Apr 9, 2008 at 09.58 am

awesome! thanks Veerle..



permalink this comment Susan Shepherd Wed Apr 9, 2008 at 05.39 pm

Veerle, I’ve come across your site in search for a guide to my starting out in illustrator and adobe (need the skills for work). I’ve found your tips useful and have found out that you are a leftie like me (and a right hand user for certain tasks)so i know controlling the knife and other tools will be easy as pie.Thanks a whole lot!



permalink this comment Shiri Wed Apr 9, 2008 at 10.43 pm

Just wanted to say thanks for all your tutorials! Iv’e been reading your blog for some time now & loving every minute of it:)



permalink this comment Genna Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02.25 pm

Great work!

How did you do the dashed circles?



permalink this comment Veerle Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 09.05 am

Genna said:

How did you do the dashed circles?

Draw 2 circles as explained in the first steps, with the exception of subtracting from shape area. Select both circles and give them a transparent fill (white square with red diagonal line).  Go to the Appearance palette and click on Stroke. Now change the color in the Color palette to blue or whatever color, then go over to the Stroke palette and enter the value 1 for weight. Make sure the Stroke Options are revealed: click the palette menu icon on the right and select ‘Show Options’ to reveal them. Check the ‘Dashed Line’ option and and enter a value of 2 for dash and 2 for gap. If you drag the circle in the Graphic Styles palette you can reuse the style on other objects and you can still modify the color or the stroke at any time. Hope this help you further ;)



permalink this comment Mario san Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 07.47 pm

Congrats from Mexico, always great tips!



permalink this comment Jones Hansen Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 09.13 pm

Great illustrator tutorial, looks really retro!



permalink this comment CarlyWood Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 07.54 pm


I’m just making a new layout for my site, which I want to look exactly like the image you’ve made, except more pastel colored.  A Scrapbooky feel though!

I’d come here to have a look at some tutorials for drawing swirls (I always forget how to do it!)

Thank you for another shockingly awesome tutorial.



permalink this comment david riba Mon Apr 14, 2008 at 10.13 am




permalink this comment webdesign Mon Apr 14, 2008 at 12.41 pm

Wow very nice Illustrator graphics. I have tried 3 tutorials of your site and they are great ! THX and keep up the good work



permalink this comment Mitch Mon Apr 14, 2008 at 01.12 pm

Ahh, that definitely helps me to be more creative with my custom designs for work. Thank you very much. :)



permalink this comment tripeak Mon Apr 14, 2008 at 02.17 pm

Another excellent tut. What font were you using for “imagination” - it’s lovely!



permalink this comment mary Mon Apr 14, 2008 at 03.06 pm

This is so much faster than my way of doing “similar” editing. Great point with filters they can become a real hassle and many overlook taking full advantage of effects.



permalink this comment Kate Mon Apr 14, 2008 at 07.24 pm

Jesus! Your blog is amazing! I love your tutorials! :D



permalink this comment Niels GOos Mon Apr 14, 2008 at 08.08 pm

Great tutorial, thanks. I was alywas actually was drawing all the shapes with the pen tool.



permalink this comment Gabbo Tue Apr 15, 2008 at 01.24 pm

This make the designing of object much easier! Woo Hoo



permalink this comment Joe Aston Tue Apr 15, 2008 at 02.04 pm

I love the use of colour in this tutorial! It looks fantastic.

Please could you tell me what typefaces you used?



permalink this comment Veerle Wed Apr 16, 2008 at 01.24 pm

Joe Aston said:

Please could you tell me what typefaces you used?

It’s EarwigFactory. Did a search on the web and found this link (TrueType font file) ;)



permalink this comment george Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 07.07 pm

WOW Thank you for sharing your knowledge I am really stunned by your creativity.



permalink this comment nicole Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 07.18 pm

May I suggest a simpler way to create a circle with a hole in it?

1. Draw a circle. (or any shape you want)
2. choose “none” for fill.
3. Set stroke to desired width and color.
4. Choose “Object>Path>Outline Stroke”.

That’s it!



permalink this comment Jackie Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 12.33 am

Hi Veerle,

This was a really fun tutorial. A couple years ago I created some flower shapes, using the star shape and one of the distort filters like the zig-zag, but it is amazing how much more you can do when you know how to add anchor points, use the pucker & bloat filter, and other things like you show here. There are so many shapes you could create, and it is true about not knowing all the possibilities there are with Illustrator.

The artbrush tutorial you did a few tutorials back was similar in that you could take a shape (like a flower shape), and turn it into something completely different using one of the distort filters, then make it into an artbrush that could be used like the symbol sprayer tool after saving out your shapes as symbols. Thanks again for all of this great insight. It is fun to see all the possibilities!



permalink this comment Andre Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 08.10 am

Pretty cool - I´m working on an new theme for BlogEngine.NET - this was quite inspiring



permalink this comment Web Designer Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 09.43 pm

Very sweet. I like your style - it’s very distinctive.

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