Wavy Psychedelic Text Design – Adobe Illustrator Type Tutorial

groovy baby wavy text
Totally Groovy Lisa Frank Vibes

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I think there’s an unwritten rule for all graphic designers: you must be a self-proclaimed type fanatic.

It’s the equivalent of having a Myspace profile circa 2005 where your top Interest was something like… “Music is my Lyf3”. And rightly so. You weren’t allowed on Myspace if music wasn’t your religion.

Sometimes I write these things and then wonder if Google’s algorithm can detect sarcasm? And what does that mean for me?


You love type, you study fonts, you pace your breath by the kerning of individual characters. You die upon the altar of a typeface that’s been sacrificed to stretching and warping by some plebeian with a pirated copy of Photoshop CS2.

And that’s why you’re here for today’s Adobe Illustrator type tutorial in which I’m going to show you how to create some trendy, psychedelic, wavy text styles.

Ya know, to make your next design… POP!

So fire up Illustrator and let’s get groovy.

Wavy Text Option 1: Twisted Type

As a reference, I created a new canvas in Illustrator at 800 x 800px and 72dpi (screen resolution) for absolutely no other reason than it being the size I use for thumbnails on this blog. Make your canvas whatever size you like, and use a higher DPI if you intend to use this design in print.

I applied a groovy looking gradient tie-dye background just to make this more visually interesting for you, and I’ve typed out the word GROOVY in the font Oswald, which is my current favorite. It’s a google web font that I downloaded through Adobe Fonts with my Creative Cloud subscription.

If you’re interested in accessing graphic design programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, click the link below and start a Free 7 Day Trial (they alsos offer serious Student Discounts). Trust me- it’s worth it!

Now, here’s the first way to make wavy text in Illustrator.

Once you’ve typed out a word or phrase or your choice of text, head up to Effect > Distort & Transform > Twist.

Use the up and down arrows to adjust the angle for different results. Oh, and this might go without saying, but pro tip: if there is a Preview box, always check it so you can see what’s up before you commit to your settings.

Below are some examples of different angles I’ve tried. Usually less is more, but that’s completely up to you! Lean to the right by using positive angles. Lean to the left with negative. Make your text hard to read by surpassing 100° angles in either direction.

Wavy Text Option 2: Warped Type

So the twisted look is cool, but what if you want each letter of your type to appear wavy versus the whole word/phrase? Enter Warp.

There are tons of options in the Warp Options Panel that will work to create the desired wavy text effect. To access it go to Effect > Warp > Flag, Rise, Wave, or Twist.

Just choose one; you can easily cycle through all the warp styles in the pop-up options by selecting them from the Style drop down menu. I prefer flag, rise, wave, and twist, but I encourage you to try them all on for size.

You can play around with the bend angle as well as the horizontal and vertical distortion for some truly out-there styles.

Here’s some of what I created:

I think flag and rise are my two favorites. What do you think? Comment below with your primo wavy text settings.

Did you find this tutorial helpful? Feel free to leave some feedback and/or constructive criticism (which I can *totally* handle). Otherwise, let me know if there’s something you’re just dying to learn how to do in Illustrator.

In the meantime, check out some of my other graphic design tutorials:

You can also pin this image to save this tutorial for later, or to share it with friends. (Which I would totally appreciate!)

wavy text tutorial adobe illustrator

To my fellow type-fanatics: Peace out,


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