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Photoshop includes a host of what I call secret handshakes. Operations that seem impossible until you luck into them, or someone shows you the ropes. My favorite example is straightening a crooked photograph. Such a common operation, and yet before you can do it, you have to know that straightening is a secondary feature of the seemingly unrelated Crop tool. Scale and rotator secret handshakes as well. Before you can re-size a layer or change its angle, you have to know that scale and rotate fall into a category of features that includes: Skew, Distort, and Warp.
Together they are known as transformations. Because to transform a layer is to alter its shape or position without harming its fundamental appearance. Photoshop lists all of its transformations under the Edit transform sub-menu. Or better still, you can apply any kind of transformation, all in a single operation, using a command called Free Transform. This command includes a keyboard shortcut, a secret handshake variation of which is the only way to both transform and duplicate a layer at the same time.
Like filters, transformations respond positively to Smart Objects. Because most transformations require Photoshop to rewrite every pixel on a layer. Each transformation amounts to a potentially destructive modification. By first converting the layer to a Smart Object, you protect the pixels so no transformation is permanent. And all are applied just once even if you choose Free Transform multiple times in a row. So you might figure you should always work with Smart Objects, but the truth is more nuanced leading us to still more secret handshakes.
As I'll explain in the very next movie.
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