Transforming scales, rotates, skews, stretches, or warps an image. You can apply transformations to a selection, an entire layer, multiple layers, or a layer mask. You can also apply transformations to a path, a vector shape, a vector mask, a selection border, or an alpha channel. Transforming affects image quality when you manipulate the pixels. To apply non-destructive transformations to raster images, use Smart Objects. (See Work with Smart Objects.) Transforming a vector shape or path is always non-destructive because you’re only changing the mathematical calculations producing the object.
To make a transformation, first select an item to transform and then choose a transformation command. If necessary, adjust the reference point before manipulating the transformation. You can perform several manipulations in succession before applying the cumulative transformation. For example, you can choose Scale and drag a handle to scale, and then choose Distort and drag a handle to distort. Then press Enter or Return to apply both transformations.
Photoshop uses the interpolation method selected in the General area of the Preferences dialog box to calculate the color values of pixels that are added or deleted during transformations. This interpolation setting directly affects the speed and quality of the transformation. Bicubic interpolation, the default, is slowest but yields the best results.
You can also warp and distort raster images using the Liquify filter.
A. Original image B. Layer flipped C. Selection border rotated D. Part of object scaled
Enlarges or reduces an item relative to its reference point, the fixed point around which transformations are performed. You can scale horizontally, vertically, or both horizontally and vertically.
Turns an item around a reference point. By default, this point is at the center of the object; however, you can move it to another location.
Rotate 180, Rotate 90 CW, Rotate 90 CCW
Rotates the item by the specified number of degrees, either clockwise or counterclockwise.
Video tutorial: Tips for working with vectors in Photoshop
In this episode of The Complete Picture, Julieanne demonstrates features for working with vectors in Photoshop.
Select an item to transform
You cannot transform the background layer. To transform it, first convert it to a regular layer.
- To transform part of a layer, select the layer in the Layers panel, and then select part of the image on that layer.
- To transform multiple layers, do either of the following in the Layers panel: Link the layers together, or select multiple layers by Ctrl-clicking (Windows) or Command-clicking (Mac OS) more than one layer. In the Layers panel, you can also Shift-click to select continguous layers. (See Select, group, and link layers.)
- To transform a layer mask or a vector mask, unlink the mask and select the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel.
- To transform a path or vector shape, use the Path Selection tool to select the entire path or the Direct Selection tool to select part of the path. If you select one or more points on a path, only those path segments connected to the points are transformed. (See Select a path.)
- To transform a selection border, make or load a selection. Then choose Select > Transform Selection.
Set or move the reference point for a transformation
All transformations are performed around a fixed point called the reference point. By default, this point is at the center of the item you are transforming. However, you can change the reference point or move the center point to a different location using the reference point locator in the options bar.
Scale, rotate, skew, distort, apply perspective, or warp
If you are transforming a shape or entire path, the Transform menu becomes the Transform Path menu. If you are transforming multiple path segments (but not the entire path), the Transform menu becomes the Transform Points menu.
- If you chose Scale, drag a handle on the bounding box. Press Shift as you drag a corner handle to scale proportionately. When positioned over a handle, the pointer becomes a double arrow.
- If you chose Rotate, move the pointer outside the bounding border (it becomes a curved, two-sided arrow), and then drag. Press Shift to constrain the rotation to 15° increments.
- If you chose Warp, choose a warp from the Warp Style pop‑up menu in the options bar, or to perform a custom warp, drag the control points, a line, or an area within the mesh to change the shape of the bounding box and mesh.
- (Optional) If desired, switch to a different type of transformation by selecting a command from the Edit > Transform submenu.
When you transform a bitmap image (versus a shape or path), the image becomes slightly less sharp each time you commit a transformation; therefore, performing multiple commands before applying the cumulative transformation is preferable to applying each transformation separately.
Flip or rotate precisely
Rotate to specify degrees in the options bar
Rotate 180° to rotate by a half‑turn
Rotate 90° CW to rotate clockwise by a quarter‑turn
Rotate 90° CCW to rotate counterclockwise by a quarter‑turn
Flip Horizontal to flip horizontally, along the vertical axis
Flip Vertical to flip vertically, along the horizontal axis
If you are transforming a shape or entire path, the Transform command becomes the Transform Path command. If you are transforming multiple path segments (but not the entire path), the Transform command becomes the Transform Points command.