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20. Free Transform

From: Photoshop Top 40

Video: 20. Free Transform

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! As powerful as Photoshop is, there is little about the program that is obvious, case in point, how do you rotate a layer? Right-click on it and select Rotate? Choose rotate from the Layer menu? Click on the Rotate tool? The answer is no, no and I'm afraid, no. Fortunately there's the Free Transform command which rotates the active layer and much much more. Now, for whatever reason the most common question I'm getting these days is how do you scale or rotate one layer independently of other layers inside of Photoshop? And the answer has nothing to do with the Layer menu.

20. Free Transform

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! As powerful as Photoshop is, there is little about the program that is obvious, case in point, how do you rotate a layer? Right-click on it and select Rotate? Choose rotate from the Layer menu? Click on the Rotate tool? The answer is no, no and I'm afraid, no. Fortunately there's the Free Transform command which rotates the active layer and much much more. Now, for whatever reason the most common question I'm getting these days is how do you scale or rotate one layer independently of other layers inside of Photoshop? And the answer has nothing to do with the Layer menu.

Instead you go up to the Edit menu and you choose Feature #20, which is the Free Transform command right there, it also has a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+T, or Command+T on the Mac. Now you might think you drop down to the Transform command, which brings up a sub menu of options so you could choose Scale, if you wanted to scale the layer or Rotate if you want to rotate, but if you do that, you're locked into a single variety of transformation, whereas if you choose the Free Transform command here, then you can apply all varieties of transformation, scale, rotate, skew, what have you, in one single operation.

Alright, so here is the project that I'm working on, and I was puttingtogether an opening graphic for one of the chapters in my Photoshop Elements One-on-One book, about which you can learn more at Deke.OReilly.com, and it features as you can see here this little robot created by 3-D illustrator Leo Blanchet. And I want to take this text, "I love automation" and I want to apply it to this little sign of his, but in order to do so, I need to match the angle of the sign. I need to match the size, of course, and I also need to match the distortion, that is the perspective of this sign in faux 3-D space.

And I'm going to do that by selecting my text, this is a live text layer, as you can see witnessed by this little "T" thumbnail inside the Layers palette. And I'm going to go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform, and then that gives me a bounding box, now the bounding box is so tall because it's anticipating that there might be some descenders coming off of the letters. In my case we're looking at All Caps. So we have no descenders, and now what you do is you go ahead and drag one of these handles in order to scale your text. Or you can drag outside, notice if you move your cursor a little bit outside of the bounding box, then you get this little rotate icon and you can rotate the text to the desired angle like so, then I'll go ahead and move it into place a little more closely. I'll go ahead and make this text a little narrower by dragging one of the side handles here.

And you can also apply a Skew if you want to, that is, a slant to your text. And you can do that by pressing and holding the Control key here on the PC or the Command key on the Mac. That goes ahead and changes your cursor, you'll see changes from this sort of directional, bidirectional arrow cursor to when I have Control+Down or Command on the Mac to a little gray arrow cursor and then you drag one of the handles in order to invoke a Skew. Like so, and you can apply values from the Options bar. If you want to, if you know the exact numerical value by which you want rotate a layer or by which you want to slant it, that kind of thing, but in our case it's a lot easier to just go ahead and drag the handles or drag outside the bounding box in the case of rotation, notice if you drag inside the bounding box you're going to move the layer to a different location.

Alright at this point this looks pretty darn good, but it doesn't look great, and the reason is, notice that this end slants too much toward the edge of the sign in the "I" doesn't slant enough, it needs to slant farther and that's a function of not exactly matching the perspective of the sign. So I want to apply what's known as a four-point distortion, that is I want to be able to move one of these corner handles independently of the other corner handles. That's not something I can do, I can press and hold the Control key or the Command key on the Mac and drag one of these corner handles like so but that's just going to go ahead and skew all of the text and that's because I'm working with live text inside of Photoshop, that just happens to be one of our limitations. So what we're better off doing is converting this text to vector based shape outlines so we preserved the scalability of that text. So we can do anything we want with it as many times as we want and then applying the transformation, so what I'm going to do is press the Escape key in order to abandon that transformation at hand.

I'm going to go over to my Layers palette and I'm going to right-click. And if you don't have a right mouse button, you would Control-click on the Mac here in an empty area of this layer, over here on the right-hand side and then I would choose this command right there, convert to shape, in order to convert this text to vector based shape outlines, and again the advantage there in is that it preserves the scalability. So I can scale and rotate and otherwise manipulate this text as much as I want, the one thing I can't do anymore is I cannot modify the text, I cannot change the word automation to some other word for example.

All right, but anyway, this text is smooth and crisp as it ever might be inside of Photoshop. I'm going to click on this little vector mask thumbnail in order to turn it off so that were not seeing those shape outlines, and then I'm getting go up to the Edit menu and choose Tree Transform once again, Control+T, Command+T on the Mac. And I'm going to go through many of the same modifications I did before, now notice my bounding boxes is not as tall as it was, that's because Photoshop has no knowledge of those descenders perhaps being there associated with that text, for all it knows this is all there is, just these shapes right here.

I'll go ahead and make the text narrower like so by dragging that side handle. Also move the text into place a little better there. I'll drag outside of the bounding box in order to rotate the text like so and then at this point, what I want to do is I want to exactly match the edges of the sign, so I'll move this handle to this location. I'll move this handle to this location so the text is the right width, now this is too wide, of course. I want a little bit of margin on the outside but this'll help me match the perspective of the sign and now rather than Control+dragging on this handle here or Command+dragging on it on the Mac.

I'm going to control drag or command drag on the corner handles and notice now. I can move this one corner independently of the other corners inside of the bounding box, and I can Control+drag his corner handle independently as well. And that way, what you're going to be able to do is apply a four-point distortion. In other words, you're invoking a form of faux perspective, where this text is concerned, anyway once again, that is a Control+drag or a Command+drag of those corner handles. At this point I think I've done a pretty nice job of matching the angle on the perspective of the sign, so I'll drag the side handles in, in order to make my text a little narrower like so.

Maybe Control+drag this handle down just a little bit, that would be Command +dragon the Mac may be Control+drag this guy down a little bit as well until I get this result here Alright, and now to apply the transformation I would either press the Enter or Return key or I could click on this check mark up here in the Options bar, that will also apply that transformation to the text, the deed is done now, what I need to do is integrate the text a little better with the background art work, the first thing I'm going to add as an inner shadow effect, so I'm going to drop down to this little "Fx" icon and click on it and choose Inner Shadow.

And I'm going to apply more or less the default settings here, I'll just drop the opacity value to 45% otherwise I like what I'm seeing. And I'll click OK, and now the text looks like it's cut out of the sign just ever so slightly and in order to you and a little bit of sort of gradient effect so that we have a little bit of highlight and shadow action going on I'm going to add a layer of press Control+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac and I'll call this layer shading and a click OK, and then I'll go-ahead and select the Brush tool, feature #31 on our Top 40 list, and I'll start off by pressing the "X" key and painting white over some of the text like so, that is most of the text actually, then I'll press the "X" key in order to switch back to black, and I'll paint over the bottom, maybe paint a little higher like that.

And then I'll switch back to my Marquee tool so that I'm no longer painting. I will press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click on this horizontal line between the two layers in order to invoke a clipping mask right there so then I'm clipping the contents of this shading layer inside of the text layer. And finally ended to go ahead and change the Blend mode from Normal to Overlay in order to get a more integrated effect. And I will drop that opacity value from 100% down to something along the lines of 30.

Actually looks pretty darn good. And that is our final a fact thanks to the unmitigated power, a feature #20, Free Transform, here inside Photoshop.

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Photoshop Top 40

41 video lessons · 37805 viewers

Deke McClelland
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