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Using Transform in Photoshop

In Photoshop, Transform is used to scale, rotate, skew, and just distort the perspective of any graphic you’re working with in general. This tutorial will teach you how to use Transform to adjust your images.

Scaling Graphics

One of the most basic transformations Photoshop is capable of is scaling a graphic. Scaling allows you to enlarge or shrink a graphic around a reference point. To scale a graphic, we go to Edit > Transform > Scale.

A set of handles will appear around our selected elements in the document (such as layers, or shapes). By moving anyone of these handles, we can adjust the size of the object. To apply the transformation, hit Enter.

How to Scale (Resize) an Image in Photoshop

Constraining Proportions while Scaling

Often times, you’ll find it necessary to constrain the proportions of your objects when scaling. This can easily be achieved by Holding Shift while dragging a transformation handle. You can additionally scale from the center reference point by Holding Alt (or Option on Mac OS), or combine the two by holding shift and alt at the same time while scaling.

Rotating Objects in Photoshop

To Rotate an Object in Photoshop, go to Edit > Transform > Rotate. Handles will appear as they did with a Scaling Transform, but instead of dragging one of these, go just outside of the object until you see a curved arrow rotate icon.

At this point, simple drag left or right to rotate the selected object. Once again, you must finish applying the transformation by pressing Enter.

How to rotate images in Photoshop

Be Precise with your Rotations!

You can rotate in 15 Degree Increments with this useful little shortcut. While you’re rotating an object, simply hold down the shift button.

Skew, Distort, and Perspective Transformations

The next 3 transformations are all similar, because they are all controlled by dragging handles. That is not to say that they are used to do the same thing, they simply all operate in the same manner. You can apply a Skew, Distort, or Perspective Transformation from Edit > Transform.

Skew: Skew transformations slant objects either vertically or horizontally.

Distort: Distort transformations allow you to stretch an image in ANY direction freely.

Perspective: The Perspective transformation allows you to add perspective to an object.

How to Skew, Distort and add Perspective to Images in Photoshop.

Warping an Object

The Warp Transformation is quite a bit different compared to the other transformations. The entire shape of the object can be modified, making this transformation useful for several different effects. To use a Warp Transformation go to Edit > Transform > Warp. A Mesh will appear over your object that you can adjust by dragging control points, lines, or any other area inside of it. You can additionally apply a preset warp from the options bar.

How to apply a custom warp to a graphic in Photoshop

58 Comments

  1. Add point Subtract point

    Hi this is great. If using an ordinary 4×6 photograph & placing this on a canvas of say 12×12 inch for scrapbooking, how would I do this? I feel by using the transform tuturial above, it would make the small photo pixelate? I’m guessing here I’d have to probably have a 12×12 white canvas to start? Anyway, just thought I’d ask, you’re the master at this :)

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  2. Add point Subtract point
    Mal Milligan (2 Points) November 30, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Another beautiful PS resource. Your skew – distort – perspective images are actually better than any writeup I’ve seen. Thanks !!

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  3. Add point Subtract point

    Thanks for the tutorial…really informative

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  4. Add point Subtract point
    MCM design studio (1 Point) September 25, 2010 at 3:42 am

    Simple and very useful tutorial. Amazing what you can do using Photoshop, specially with transformation options.Thanks David for great tutorial!

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  5. Add point Subtract point
    Guru (0 Points) May 27, 2010 at 7:21 am

    The tutorial on converting text to 3D graphic is ultimate. Thank you for sharing such a useful lesson.

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  6. Add point Subtract point
    arditasari (1 Point) May 12, 2010 at 4:17 am

    Thanks for share. I am sure other people will find this very valuable…^_^

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  7. Add point Subtract point
    Web Design (-1 Points) April 26, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    WonderfuL! just what i needed. THANKS

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  8. Add point Subtract point
    Ashis Bhattacharzee (1 Point) February 23, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    GOOOOOOOD. . . . . .. .. .

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  9. Add point Subtract point
    เนื้อเพลง (1 Point) February 3, 2010 at 12:39 am

    thanks for sharing. So mush126

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  10. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (1 Point) February 2, 2010 at 1:54 am

    thanks for sharing. So mush119

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  11. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (1 Point) February 1, 2010 at 3:10 am

    thanks for sharing. So mush114

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  12. Add point Subtract point

    wow Cool tip thank for sharing.

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  13. Add point Subtract point
    ดาวน์โหลดเพลงฟรี (2 Points) January 28, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Great article. Thank you.

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  14. Add point Subtract point

    edit>transform>warp… I dont have any warp… WHY? Because I used Illegal photoshop software or what???

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  15. Add point Subtract point

    I DO have Photoshop CS2, but i don’t have the edit>transform >warp function.
    All i have is scale, skew, distort, rotate, perspective. But no Warp.
    Am i missing a plug in? Can i download something?

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  16. Add point Subtract point
    shannon (1 Point) October 28, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    It keeps telling me it couldn’t transform the path because there are no pixels within the path?????? The layer is selected.??????

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  17. Add point Subtract point

    cool, thanks for a fill-in on the basics!

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  18. Add point Subtract point
    Lawrence Villermin (1 Point) September 15, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    How come when i try to apply a texture to my pictures the texture is small? When i try to free transform the texture it is very grainy after i stretch it to fit the picture.

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  19. Add point Subtract point

    @hafis:the warp transformation can be found in photoshop cs2 or higher only. you might using the lower version, that’s why you couldn’t find it.

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  20. Add point Subtract point

    why i dont have the ‘warp’ in my tranforms menu?

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  21. Add point Subtract point
    zipzap (1 Point) June 3, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks.. you are great..

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  22. Add point Subtract point
    AztKfullHD89 (1 Point) May 6, 2009 at 1:16 am

    If you have a little lock on the layer just double click and hit OK, that should enable the transform option.

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  23. Add point Subtract point
    huwaw69 (1 Point) May 3, 2009 at 4:33 am

    nicely done man! great this is great!

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  24. Add point Subtract point

    I couldn’t use the transform option because my layer was locked – maybe this will help you (I am a beginner -> maybe I am wrong, but this helped me when I couldn’t use the Transform option –>someone please correct me if wrong)

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  25. Add point Subtract point

    Thanx very much for this
    Soo helpful

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  26. Add point Subtract point

    the reazon u dont have “transoform” is because u have “Free transform” then you right click the picture and u have the options of perspective, skew, distort etc…

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  27. Add point Subtract point

    I don’t got edit>transform either.

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  28. Add point Subtract point
    Cortney (2 Points) September 10, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    I don’t have edit>Transform….

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  29. Add point Subtract point
    faws (2 Points) July 10, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    thanks …this was very helpful

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