Transforming layers and selected pixels

To transform a layer or selection, you can apply one of the commands in the Edit ^ Transform submenu. Nearly a dozen commands are here, all of which you can explore on your own. I'm not copping out; it's just that it's unlikely you'll use any of these commands on a regular basis. They aren't bad, but one command—Free Transform — is infinitely better.

With Free Transform, you can scale, flip, rotate, slant, distort, and move a selection or layer in one continuous operation. This one command lets you get all your transformations exactly right before pressing Enter to apply the final changes.

To initiate the command, press Ctrl+T or choose Edit ^ Free Transform. Photoshop surrounds the layer or selection with an eight-handle marquee. You are now in the Free Transform mode, which prevents you from doing anything except transforming the image or canceling the operation.

Here's how to work in the Free Transform mode:

4 Scale: Drag one of the eight square handles to scale the image inside the marquee. To scale proportionally, Shift-drag a corner handle. To scale about the central transformation origin (labeled in Figure 12-30), Alt-drag a corner handle.

By default, the origin is located in the center of the layer or selection. But you can move it to any place inside the image by dragging it. The origin snaps to the grid and guides, as well as to the center or any corner of the layer.

4 Flip: You can flip the image by dragging one handle past its opposite handle. For example, dragging the left side handle past the right side handle flips the image horizontally.

If you want to perform a simple flip, it's generally easier to choose Edit ^ Transform ^ Flip Horizontal or Flip Vertical. Better yet, right-click in the image window and choose one of the Flip commands from the shortcut menu. Quite surprisingly, you can choose any of the shortcut menu commands while working in the Free Transform mode.

4 Rotate: To rotate the image, drag outside the marquee, as demonstrated in the first example in Figure 12-30. Shift-drag to rotate in 15-degree increments.

4 Skew: Ctrl-drag a side handle (including the top or bottom handle) to slant the image. To constrain the slant, which is useful for producing perspective effects, Ctrl+Shift-drag a side handle.

4 Distort: You can distort the image by Ctrl-dragging a corner handle. You can tug the image to stretch it in any of four directions.

To tug two opposite corner handles in symmetrical directions, Ctrl+Alt-drag either of the handles. I show this technique in the second example in Figure 12-30.

Perspective: For a one-point perspective effect, Ctrl+Shift-drag a corner handle. To move two points in unison, Ctrl+Shift+Alt-drag a corner handle.

Rotate cursor

Rotate cursor

Figure 12-30: After pressing Ctrl+T to initiate the Free Transform command, drag outside the marquee to rotate the layer (top). You can also Ctrl+Alt-drag a corner handle to move the opposite corner handle symmetrically and skew the layer.

4 Move: Drag inside the marquee to move the image. This is useful when you're trying to align the selection or layer with a background image and you want to make sure the transformations match up properly.

Note

♦ Undo: To undo the last modification without leaving the Free Transform mode altogether, press Ctrl+Z.

♦ Zoom: You can change the view size by choosing one of the commands in the View menu. You can also use the keyboard zoom shortcuts (Ctrl+spacebar-click, Alt+spacebar-click, Ctrl+plus, or Ctrl+minus).

♦ Apply: Press Enter to apply the final transformation and interpolate the new pixels. You can also double-click inside the marquee.

If the finished effect looks jagged, it's probably because you selected Nearest Neighbor from the Interpolation pop-up menu in the Preferences dialog box. To correct this problem, press Ctrl+Z to undo the transformation and then press Ctrl+K and select the Bicubic option from the General panel of the Preferences dialog box. Then press Ctrl+Shift+T to reapply the transformation.

♦ Cancel: To cancel the Free Transform operation, press Escape.

Tip To transform a clone of a selected area, press Alt when choosing the Free Transform

\ command, or press Ctrl+Alt+T. This only works with selected areas — you can't * clone an entire layer any more than you can by Alt dragging with the move tool.

If no part of the image is selected, you can transform multiple layers at a time by first linking them, as described in the "Linking layers" section earlier in this chapter. For example, I could have linked the TV and camera layers to transform the two in unison back in Figure 12-30.

Tip To replay the last transformation on any layer or selection, choose Edit Transforms

Again or press Ctrl+Shift+T. This is a great technique to use if you forgot to link all the layers that you wanted to transform. You can even transform a path or selection out line to match a transformed layer. It's a handy feature.

Neither Free Transform nor any of the commands in the Edit S Transform submenu are available when a layer is locked, either with the Lock Position or Lock All check box. If a transformation command appears dimmed, therefore, the Lock check boxes are very likely your culprits.

Note

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