Here, a facile and effective route toward full control of vertical ZnO nanorod (NR)/nanowire (NW) arrays in centimeter-scale areas and considerable improvement of field-emission (FE) performance is reported. Controlled deformation of colloidal crystal monolayer templates is introduced by heating near glass-transition temperature. The NR/NW density, uniformity, and tapering were all adjusted through selection of template size and deformation, and electrolyte composition. In line with the adjustments, the field-emission performance of the arrays is significantly improved. A low turn-on electric field of 1.8 V µm−1, a field-enhancement factor of up to 5 750, and an emitting current density of up to 2.5 mA cm−2 were obtained. These improved parameters would benefit their potential application in cold-cathode-based electronics.