Stretching a Photo in Illustrator

dekePod Episode 004: Photoshop, Photoshop, Photoshop. Don’t you sometimes get sick of Photoshop? Me neither, but still, it’s time for a change. In this episode, we stop obsessing about Photoshop (uh, kinda) and start obsessing about Illustrator. Why Illustrator? Well, first, the program rocks. Second, it provides something Photoshop doesn’t: An expertly rendered envelope-style distortion function that lets you—get this—transform a horizontal photograph into a vertical one without harming the foreground image. Here’s the official marketing description:

Have you ever wanted to stretch a photo’s background but leave the foreground unchanged? Or turn a horizontal photo into a vertical one without making a mess of it? You can’t do it in Photoshop CS3, but you can in its companion program, Adobe Illustrator. Deke shows you how in a way that’ll make you so happy, you’ll think you’re on drugs. And wait till you see the new look! Deke is dreamy.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the new look. In this latest dekePod, I could pass for a real human being. (Just effects, of course. I’m still a wooden puppet.) If you’re interested in downloading this delightful humanizing, pro-happy video, try one of these links:

  • For a high-quality QuickTime movie, right-click here and choose Save Target or Download Link or the equivalent.
  • For an M4V file that you can play on an iPod, right-click here and choose one of those same commands.
  • Or you can subscribe to dekePod via RSS or iTunes.

You can also check out the page at my book publisher O’Reilly Media.

This is a fairly elaborate technique. Which is why I promise to share more in my weekly dekeStuff column, coming at you next Monday, every Mondays, and sometimes more frequently than that. (Or less.) Take care, and don’t let the vectors stretch you!

Next entry:Assignment Beijing: Derrick Shares Some Olympic Moments

Previous entry:As You Wish…


  • I love it.

    I just bought Illustrator so I’ll take all the tips you can give!



    Great ragweed!

  • So Much to Learn So Little Time

    I just started getting into CS2 and wish I had illustrator.  These vids really spark my imagination. 

    Thanks Deke

  • Another winner!

    Must be the new undergarments. Going on a date? Did Collene burn your previous outfit because of its smell?

    Oh yeah, about those folks in the Uruguay and east spending the most time on the site….that’s just plain scary.

  • Ich bin ein Deke-Onliner

    Achtung! Again a wunderbar film, Deke. I like the speed and the high density of gags in your videos. Great work! Cheers from Germany

  • Fantastic!

    Watching these great videos is my own pro happy pill. Great job Deke.

  • I can see clearly….

    I can see clearly now, but unfortunately not all the colors come through.

    The monitor battle goes on. I need your help, gang.

    Which is the best monitor for serious color correcting, a CRT or LCD? We have both in our studio, and I have to be honest: the Apple Cinema is a thing of beauty, as far at the extra workspace goes, and the ease of eyestrain. But trying to get it to display certain colors (most notably F5F5F5), even after calibrating to within an inch of its life, is an exercise in futility.

    Maybe it’s just me, but my outdated, energy sucking, eye straining, multiple resolutions, clunky old LaCie ElectronBlue IV is still one of the best displays for the money. Geez, do I sound bias or what?

    Has anybody out there found a LCD comparable to the color display on a CRT?



  • no singing?!?!

    Great stuff! I actually had a suggestion regarding what can you (or anyone) do with a photo in Illustrator in my comment that received the “Self-imposed censorship” cut. Some of it’s on my blog here so I guess it’s not totally gone. You’re way ahead of me on the whole Illustrator can do something Photoshop can’t creative-turn-the-world upside-down thinking.

    I missing the rap singing from Pilot #2. You talk so damn fast that you should just sing rap this stuff anyway. Photoshop tips mixed with a bunch of other crap must be hard-cross-wired in your head.

    One question, did I miss the joke that related to Rush Limbaugh’s picture or are you making a political statement? I think it was a oxycontin reference? Or viagra?


    Head Camp Counselor
    Camp Photoshop

  • Thnx for the Integration Goodness

    Now that is cool. I appreciate the integration stuff…. lookin forward to all the gory details on Monday.

    If I may add to the ” Illustrator can do what Photoshop can’t ” list, I like to use Illustrator to process and unlock the power of Open Type font text used in Photoshop (because of the marvelous Open Type pallettes/panels found within Illustrator). I wonder how much can be added to such a list.

    Keep on keeping on grin


    Thomas Benner

    Austin, Texas

    p.s. I found no discussion of Open Type in your terrific Photoshop CS3 1 on 1 book (checked the Index and Lesson 10 and, yes, I see you used Adobe Caslon Pro). I am curious as to whether it appears in the new Illustrator 1 on 1 book similar to what you did in lesson 3 of your InDesign CS3 1 on 1… there’s lotsa Open Type goodness there….. guess I’ll have to wait and see.

  • The RL photo

    Was a gag that the Flying Moose guys threw in at the last minute that made me laugh water out my nose. Rush wasn’t busted on anti-depressants or uppers or anything that quite fit the logic I had constructed, so after cleaning up my screen, I vacillated on whether it made good humorous sense. There’s the obvious hypocrisy of him railing against illegally acquired drugs, and then developing an addiction and acquiring drugs illegally, and then returning to railing against illegally acquired drugs. And in that regard he’s a kind of self-appointed pro-drug/anti-drug poster boy. Then I thought, he’s a self-appointed expert as well, so there’s an nice layer of me mocking myself for being a self-appointed expert, right after setting myself up as being a pro-drug and anti-drug poster boy.

    Then I decided the image made me laugh water out my nose and I should stop overthinking it. So there he is.

  • Fun..

    Need little trick…. great podcast.. thanks for the laugh.

  • I was afraid

    A native-speaking German would catch on to my bad use of German. I cut “ein” because “Ich bin dekeOnliner” better matched the cadence of “Ich bin ein Berliner.” (See, “ein” becomes “deke” and “Berliner” becomes “Onliner.” Which automatically makes me president.) Of course, it’s wrong without “ein,” but such is the price of art.

    Which is my way of saying, danke shane to the 2,393 German visitors and the 1,357 direct referrals from (I know, it’s fairly Big Brotherian how much you can deduce. I should do a podcast on the many ways our lives are enhanced by obsessively gleaning meaningless data about each other in the digital don’t-really-know-you realm. Only, I don’t actually believe that.)

    Fortunately, I’m a benign overlord. (I don’t have time to be otherwise.) Keep visiting.

  • water out of the nose ...

    OK, water out of the nose ... that’s a good reason.


    Head Camp Counselor
    Camp Photoshop

  • Oh, I have a list…

    You know me—forever standing up for Illustrator. Start reading here….

    and then read here….

    Mordy Golding

  • Who needs drugs?

    Honestly, Deke, who needs drugs when I’ve got you?

    Your videos are whacked-out, entertaining, and educational. And your command of language is impressive.

    Thanks for all the great info you have provided me through the years. Your Sharpening in Photoshop CS3 video techniques have made my pictures immeasurably better.

    So, do you really talk like that in your daily life? Must be interesting for the wife and kids. Kinda reminds me of Robin Williams back in the coked-up, early days of his career. LOL

    Gotta go take a Xanax now—I just finished watching your latest DekePOD.



  • Sadly, that dekePod guy

    Is nothing like me. In real life, I sport a pencil-thin mustache, I have tape on my glasses (even tho they’re not broken), my thorax is emerald in color and engorged with larvae, and I have a pumpkin for a head.

    But you’ll recognize me b/c I’m the one pushing a grocery cart full of Adobe products down Sunset Blvd.

    Look for me. I have a cup. (This thing is a money pit.)

  • Love it!

    I started out with Illustrator, and am only really getting into photoshop now, so it’s good to see some illustrator stuff that PS can’t do.  I’ve attempted to mess with some text in PS using the warp text function, and I longed for a little envelope filter.  It’s good to see that there isn’t one, because I just assumed I didn’t know where the heck it was.  Love the podcast, definitely lots of stuff going on there.  I’m guessing your not a right-winger ha ha.

    Keep ‘em coming!


  • I want to be like Deke


    I just posted my first video on my website: It’s from the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk last week. I tried to think, what would Deke do? OK, I don’t really have the budget for a high class movie.

    I think my next one will be, “Finding Deke in Vegas.” Sounds better than finding Deke at Photoshop World.

    Thanks for the great work.


  • Nice work!

    These are the first images I’ve seen from any of the walks. (Been kinda in a bubble here.)

    We don’t have the budget for high class movies, either. My guys are just magicians.


  • Transform Selection

    excuse me if I missed something, but why couldn’t I just transform a selection inside of photoshop instead of sending the photo to illustrator?

  • Horizontal vertical rotation

    Hello Deke,

    Do you prefer to turn the horizontal image into vertical with

    Illustrator or do you rather use use picture award scale. I’ve seen
    you use both on same picture and as you said Adobe paid good money for
    it but for you as a pro, is it really what does the job???

  • Yes, but no, but yes

    Here’s the story:

    I and Colleen (who runs teleprompter) and a few others finished recording this episode of dekePod on Monday, June 9. That’s how long ago some of these movies happened. On Tuesday, June 10, we took off for Adobe offices in San Jose, where John Nack and Bryan O’Neil Hughes proceeded to show us content-aware scaling.

    Which is when I started to beat my head against the table. B/c they were showing me that feature that made obsolete the dekePod I had recorded less than 24 hours earlier.

    But in the clear light of day, not so much. CS4’s content-aware scaling function does a great job of automating the stretching process. But its controls are scarce and you are ultimately at its disposal. Which means, when it works its works well. And when it doesn’t it fails miserably.

    By comparison, Illustrator’s envelope distortion gives you all the controls you could possibly want. But it takes some effort to pull off.

    So I ask you, which would you prefer? Automation with unexpected results? Or control with laborious process?

    Me, I’ll always say “both!”

  • I prefer control myself, and

    I prefer control myself, and it’s definitely a worthy trick to know especially if you don’t have access to Photoshop CS4. That’s kind of funny that CS4 released content aware scaling just the day after you filmed this tutorial. Anyway nice tut, as well as entertaining. I learned something that I’ll surely find a use for even if there’s a different way of doing it.


  • Flippin’ spirals

    Hey Deke,

    Any way to flip a spiral tool on-the-fly from clockwise to counter-clockwise and vice-versa?

    Also, for future tutorials (this one drove me nutz ‘till I figured it out an hour later), you might want to note that for those of us on Wacom Tablets, there is a bug in Illustrator when trying to change on-the-fly values for spiral tool, arc tool, rectangular grid and polar grid tools, as well as various polygon tools (star tool, etc…): when an arrow key is pressed while the Wacom mouse is on the tablet, the values increase/decrease by dozens at once. The same happens with a regular mouse, but only when you drag the mouse while pressing an arrow key.

    Perhaps it may be worth a mention on how to avoid it in future tutorials - up to you. I’ll also send a word to Adobe team.

    That’s on Illustrator CS3, Vista 64, with a Wacom Intuos 3, but something tells me it’s probably on other configurations as well.

    Thought you’d like to pass along before someone passes out.



    P.S. Hope the Martini Hour question I sent today is not taken the wrong way; I had a Photoshop question and thought I’d have some fun with a new audio editing program I just got recently.

  • INdesign CS$ one on one

    Just got the CS4 suite and the book ‘Indesign CS4 one on one’.  I am trying to install the disc and having trouble installing the dekekeys keyboard shortcuts.

    I am using vista sp1.  I get down to the en_us but then there is no InDesign Shortcut Sets.

    there are three folders. 1. composite font > empty 2. Scripts > empty 3. workspace > has three files a. advanced_current workspace.xml b. essentials_current workspace.xml c. getting started_current workspace.xml

    please advise. 


  • I prefer control myself, and

    I prefer control myself, and it’s definitely a worthy trick to know especially if you don’t have access to Photoshop CS4. That’s kind of funny that CS4 released content aware scaling just the day after you filmed this tutorial. Anyway nice tut, as well as entertaining. I learned something that I’ll surely find a use for even if there’s a different way of doing it.


    film izle Oyun

  • funny and informative!

    Thanks for the info.

    I’m in desperate need of this kind of information PLUS i have no money for an illustrator book.

    Cheers and please keep it up.

  • Re:

    It’s good to see that there isn’t one, because I just assumed I didn’t know where the heck it was. Love the podcast, definitely lots of stuff going on there. I’m guessing your not a right-winger ha ha.


  • Watermark

    Hi Deke..

    Shall we include watermark in the images(.jpg) by using Photoshop CS4 and is there any scripts to do something like that..Please help me out of this..


  • Da Pods

    Just want to say thanks for being a photoshop freak, i love the style of the pods, it frees the mind in the most scariest of ways (don’t worry nothing unnatural happened).

  • Marvellous Showman

    This man is genius of marketing. I love his videos because He uses a lot of funny photos.

  • Stretching a Photo in Illustrator

    Stretching a Photo in Illustrator (and Elsewhere). The things you see here in dekeStuff are accessible only to registered users. Sign up for a free account. ...Wii Fit

  • Very informative

    Very informative video.

    Thank you deke.

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  • I like the description

    I like Deke’s description of himself - is that after you have used photoshop to alter what you look like? smile



  • Thank you, Deke

    I’m a photo retoucher and many of my clients ask me to change a photo background or to make a vertical photo from a horisontal one. So your Illustrator lesson was very helpful. This technique helps me to save a lot of time.


    Marta Miles

  • a real wood

    By the way nice video. I saw most of its content in Illustrator cs4 one-one-one series but there was some extra on this film. My question isn’t about this video thought.

    I would want to know how to imitate the shape of the wood. I have been trying to make a real looking log or snag but the final result wasn’t what I wanted. If somebody knows how to do that in Illustrator or Photoshop I would be so happy. If there is some help (that I haven’t noticed) in Illustrator cs4 one-one-one series from Deke and would point the chapter, that would also help. I know my question can be very wide but I would just want to know a good working method. I have seen so awesome shapes and I envy them. :(

    If there is help in Deke’s Photoshop cs4 one-one one series, please let me know. I am going to buy those DVDs at some point, for sure.

    Ps. I don’t want to take the shape from photo and attach it, its not what I want.

    Thanks for your help.

    I found a way to get a really nice effect. raspberry I am pleased now.

  • Really appreciate this post.

    It’s hard to sort the good from the bad sometimes, but I think you’ve nailed it!

  • SPAM ??

    Is it only my imagination or has this blog suddenly (re: past 24 hours) become somewhat spam laden ?

  • Not more spam, just less spam surveillance, drjack

    Deke and I don’t want robots or interns deleting comments, so we read them ourselves and remain on the lookout. Sometimes when we’re both on the road, or heads down on new projects, or generally had our fill of eating spam, it gets past us for a day or two.

    “Spam in the place where I live (ham and pork),

    Think about nutrition, wonder what’s inside it now.”
                                                  ——Weird Al Yancovich (Sung to the tune of REM’s “Stand”)

  • reply:

    Thanks for such a nice video. smile

  • Thanks

    Thank you. I am horrible with photoshop. I cant seem to figure it out. I will have to try illustrator.

  • I prefer control myself, and

    I prefer control myself, and it’s definitely a worthy trick to know especially if you don’t have access to Photoshop CS4. That’s kind of funny that CS4 released content aware scaling just the day after you filmed this tutorial. Anyway nice tut, as well as entertaining. I learned something that I’ll surely find a use for even if there’s a different way of doing it.

  • I personnaly like

    I personnaly like illustrator alot. Not the same thing as photoshop, but it has definitly some argument to show when you are on particular job. As for the tios given here, it’s fully demonstrated that illustrator is not a 2nd choice software…

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  • Drawings in photoshop

    I have been trying to draw some images in photoshop of my house to help me do some renovations. I am still having some problems doing all of the rendering, but I think I will get better at this with practice.

  • Looking for a new photo shopping cart…......

    Photography shopping cart softwarePhotography Orders is a photography shopping cart that enables photographers to upload photos to a secure area where clients can login and place orders

  • Illustrator rules!

    I can’t believe people ever thought that Illustrator was a 2nd choice software. I mean, it’s a completely different approach to graphic design. Photoshop is raster based and Illustrator is vector based. I’m not convinced that people understand what the difference is; however, I am convinced that some people are using both of them and just thinking that one just has a different interface than the other. Weird. I guess that’s what happens when a bunch of people who don’t know anything about graphic design download “free” software off the Internet because they heard it was expensive/cool to have.

  • Illustrator

    I am at the verge of trying out illustrator after watching your video. The learning curve on photoshop is just too much for me to bear. Thanks for the short tutorial.

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  • Matthew - Illustrator

    I like how you presented this video. You’re right that Photoshop is weak on that area. And Adobe Illustrator did it perfectly.

    Matthew from Guitar Tutorial

  • Thank you

    Thank you, great video, it’s both teaching and ..uh.. kind of entertaining. In fact, it shows how you can use dsome tools in Illustrator which are hard to achieve with Photoshop. Some articles in pdf on Illustrator that I read  touch upon the topic, I mean, stretching of the image. But in your example you are showing how and why, in what cases, and depending on what effect one can achieve, we should use this tool. It’s illustrative and helpful. Thank you, we will be looking forward to new posts!

  • jeffre

    Good read, thanx for posting

  • Well photoshop has changed

    Well photoshop has changed the printing scenario, now you can fix your photos anywhere and can add anything you want, I know I add Gucci coin cufflinks on my photo before adding it to facebook and you wont believe the comments’ I got because of that.

  • Would it be possible to

    Would it be possible to implement some sort of “report spam” function?

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  • thanks

    Hey guys thanks for sharing the information, it was a nice content to read thanks again for sharing, keep up the good work.
    Panic Away

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