Join Michael Ninness for an in-depth discussion in this video Scaling, skewing, and rotating with Free Transform, part of Photoshop CS5 Essential Training.
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So when you crop an image, you're actually acting on the entire canvas of the file. The whole size, the whole dimensions of the overall file are changing. Same thing when you're using image size, that dialog box to change the size of the document. Other times, you just want to scale a certain piece of the document, or transform a certain piece of the document. Most of the time, that's an example like this where you've got content on a layer. So here I have this Jump layer, I can turn that on and off by clicking the Eye. You can see that background as a separate layer. I might want to change the Scale or Rotation of this particular item on this particular layer, so this Jump layer here.
The way you do that in Photoshop is use the Free Transform mode. Now it's not a tool. If you go over at the toolbar and looking for a Scale tool or a Rotate tool, it doesn't exist. It's a mode. Two ways to get there. The menu way is under the Edit menu, the Free Transform menu command. That puts a bounding box. You're now in a Transform mode inside Photoshop. I'm going to hit the Escape key to cancel out of that Transform mode. The way that I recommend is use the keyboard shortcut. So that's Command+T or Ctrl+T for Transform.
Once you're in the Free Transform mode, there is now a bounding box around your content. If you want to scale it, you just grab a corner handle and start dragging. If you're doing the corner handle, you're scaling both the Width and Height at the same time. Free Transform implies that you can just do it freely, right. There's no constraining going on. I'm going to undo that. You can undo the last thing you did in Free Transform before you are either canceling or committing to these changes. So Command+Z or Ctrl+Z will just undo that last thing you did. In this case, it was just as free scale. If I want to scale proportionally, then just hold down the Shift key as you are dragging.
And that will make sure that the end result is the same proportion as where you started. If you put your mouse outside of the Free Transform bounding box, you see your cursor changes to Rotate. So if it's inside, it's a little Move icon where you can move it around your screen. You put your mouse outside it turns to Rotate, which lets you rotate it freely. Now, by default, it's rotating from the center of the image. That might be a little tough to see, but there is this little cross hair thing in the middle of the bounding box there. You can actually move that to somewhere else. So if you want to rotate from say the upper left-hand corner, you can just click-and-drag on that little target and move it there.
So now when you move your mouse outside, it's going to be rotating from that new target, that new anchor point. It's kind of like swinging on a rope or something, which is kind of cool. You can go back and move that back to the center. As you get near the center, it will snap back to the center point. Now there are other different types of transformations you can make besides just scaling and rotating. If you hold down some modifier keys, like if I hold down the Command key on the Mac or Ctrl on Windows, you can do what's called the Perspective Transform. And you can kind of make this be on a plane that you're stretching in space, so to speak.
So some interesting things there, if grab up middle handle, I can do a Perspective Transform and do it from that way as well. There are other modifiers as well, but if you don't want to memorize keyboard shortcuts, if you right-click in the middle of the Transform box, you'll see all the different modes of Free Transform. So it can be used to Scale, Rotate, Skew, Distort, Perspective or Warp. Then you also have very simple commands. If I just want to flip this horizontally without having to figure out how to do that, I can just use the right -click menu command to do so. If you want to scale or rotate numerically, like a certain amount or to a certain angle, then if you take a look at the Option bar at the top here, you have Edit fields where you can actually change those values as well.
So if want to scale, let's say exactly 50%, I'm going to click on the W in the Options bar. That highlights that field and I can just type in 50. By default, this icon between Width and Height is not locked, so it's stretching it only in one dimension, the Width. I'm going to go ahead and click that Lock icon and that forces the H field to also go to 50%. If I want, I can go back and flip that vertically. So I can add multiple transformations up during the middle of this transform. When I'm happy with all these results, I just press the Enter key and it applies all those transformations to that particular image here.
If I want to undo it, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z and I'm back to where I started. So again, it's not a tool. It's a mode. Quickest way to get there is Command+T or Ctrl+T. Puts the bounding box around your layer and then you can just freely transform your content to whatever it is that you want to accomplish.
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- Filtering a large collection of images down to the "keepers"
- Cropping, correcting perspective, and straightening images
- Creating, naming, hiding, and deleting layers
- How to make selections and masks quickly
- Improving mask quality with Refine Edge
- Techniques for combining multiple images
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- Retouching essentials, such as blemish removal and body sculpting
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- Using the essential blend modes, layer effects, and styles
- Creating contact sheets and web photo galleries