I'm trying to add a 'distorted' effect to a model. Are there any tools that can make this a more easy process? Pictures with the effect I'm going for below.
I would use a series of displacement modifiers to achieve this effect. The displace modifier moves the vertices of a mesh around based on a texture.
To get a similar result to your reference image I have stacked two displacement modifiers. Here is a render with three examples, from left to right: no displacement, first displacement modifier, both displacement modifiers.
They are both driven by clouds noise textures. The first displacement modifier is left at the default normal displacement direction, this moves each vertex along its normal. The second displacement modifier uses a slightly larger clouds texture and XYZ to RGB displacement, this converts the red, green, and blue channels in the texture to displacement in the X, Y, and Z directions. The texture driving this displacement modifier uses a multicolored color ramp to generate different red green and blue channels.
I'll demonstrate you some mesh deformation methods using poor Suzanne ;).
USING PROPORTIONAL EDITING WITH RANDOM FALLOFF TYPE
The simplest way you can do I think is to go to Edit Mode and click Select-->Random, while vertex selection mode is enabled. Now you can enable the proportional editing with Random falloff type, then grab, rotate and scale some vertices to make deformations.
Being in Object Mode add a Lattice (Add-->Lattice). Subdivide it using options in Object Data header, and place your object inside it. Give your object a Lattice Modifier and set everything as pictured below. Select your Lattice, enter Edit Mode, select some random Lattice vertices, then grab, rotate and scale them (also using Random falloff of the proportional editing).
USING MESH DEFORM MODIFIER (for a better control over deformations)
Create a low poly representation of your object and name it for example 'cage'. Place your object inside it. Give it a Mesh Deform Modifier and set everything as pictured below. Give the Precision factor a low value (the bigger the value, the more possibility, that your computer'll cry ;)). Next click the Bind button to bind your object to a low poly 'cage' mesh. Now, when you deform vertices of the 'cage' your object's vertices will be deformed as well.
Try to mix these for better result.