Video tutorial: Free Transform command

Video tutorial: Free Transform command
Richard Harrington

Apply transformations

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.

Note:

You can also warp and distort raster images using the Liquify filter.

Photoshop Transforming an image
Transforming an image

A. Original image B. Layer flipped C. Selection border rotated D. Part of object scaled 

Transform submenu commands

Scale

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.

Rotate

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.

Skew

Slants an item vertically and horizontally.

Distort

Stretches an item in all directions.

Perspective

Applies one‑point perspective to an item.

Warp

Manipulates the shape of an item.

Rotate 180, Rotate 90 CW, Rotate 90 CCW

Rotates the item by the specified number of degrees, either clockwise or counterclockwise.

Flip

Flips the item vertically or horizontally.

Video tutorial: Tips for working with vectors in Photoshop

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.
Julieanne Kost

Select an item to transform

  • Do one of the following:
    • To transform an entire layer, make the layer active, and make sure nothing is selected.

    Note:

    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.
    • To transform an alpha channel, select the channel in the Channels panel.

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.

  1. Choose a transformation command. A bounding box appears in the image.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • In the options bar, click a square on the reference point locator . Each square represents a point on the bounding box. For example, to move the reference point to the upper-left corner of the bounding box, click the top left square on the reference point locator.
    • In the transform bounding box that appears in the image, drag the reference point . The reference point can be outside the item you want to transform.

Scale, rotate, skew, distort, apply perspective, or warp

  1. Select what you want to transform.
  2. Choose Edit > Transform > Scale, Rotate, Skew, Distort, Perspective, or Warp.

    Note:

    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.

  3. (Optional) In the options bar, click a square on the reference point locator .
  4. Do one or more of the following:
    • 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 Skew, drag a side handle to slant the bounding box.
    • If you chose Distort, drag a corner handle to stretch the bounding box.
    • If you chose Perspective, drag a corner handle to apply perspective to the bounding box.
    • 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.
    • For all types of transformations, enter a value in the options bar. For example, to rotate an item, specify degrees in the rotation  text box.
  5. (Optional) If desired, switch to a different type of transformation by selecting a command from the Edit > Transform submenu.

    Note:

    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.

  6. (Optional) If you want to warp the image, click the Switch Between Free Transform And Warp Mode button  in the options bar.
  7. When you finish, do one of the following:
    • Press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS), click the Commit button  in the options bar, or double-click inside the transformation marquee.
    • To cancel the transformation, press Esc or click the Cancel button  in the options bar.

Flip or rotate precisely

  1. Select what you want to transform.

  2. Choose Edit > Transform and choose one of the following commands from the submenu:

    • 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

    Note:

    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.

Repeat a transformation

  • Choose Edit > Transform > Again, Edit > Transform Path > Again, or Edit > Transform Points > Again.

Duplicate an item when transforming it

  • Hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) when selecting the Transform command.

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