89. Rotate the Data in a Selection or Layer
Before You Begin
70 About Making Selections
86 About Copying, Cutting, and Pasting Data Within a Selection
90 Copy Data into a Selected Area
It is not uncommon to have to rotate the data in a selection or layer. You might have just pasted your daughter's pretty face onto a layer and want to rotate it just a bit so that it faces your son, who is located on another layer. Or you might want to rotate a shape that's on the same layer as another shape, or to rotate some text. No matter what the goal, the rotation process is basically the same in all instances: Select the data or layer to rotate and use the Move tool to spin it around.
This task teaches you what is essentially free rotation, meaning that you have the freedom to rotate a selection or layer by whatever amount you choose. If you want to rotate by 90° left or right, or by some exact amount you already know (such as 120°), or if you want to flip the data rather than rotate it, you can follow the steps in 106 Rotate an Image or Layer (rotating a selection in this manner follows the same basic procedure). If your goal is not rotation, but resizing, moving, or somehow distorting the data in a selection, see 99 Move, Resize, Skew, or Distort a Layer (again, the procedure for a selection is the same for a layer).
If the data you've selected is surrounded by non- transparent pixels, when you rotate the selection, you'll leave a hole. If you don't want to leave a hole where the original selection was located, you should paste your selection into a new layer before rotating it. See 88 Create a New Layer from a Selection.
If you want to rotate a selection on the Background layer and have the hole it leaves filled with the background color, click the background color swatch on the Toolbox and select that color first before rotating. If you rotate a selection surrounded by colored pixels on any other layer, the hole will be filled with transparent pixels. You can then fill the hole by cloning the surrounding data.
When you rotate a selection on a layer, the original location is filled with the background color if that layer is the Background layer. For example, if the background color is white, when you rotate an animal that you selected, the hole where the selection was originally located is filled with white. If, however, your selection is located on a regular layer (a background layer that's been simplified, an inserted layer, fill layer, adjustment layer, text layer, or shape layer), the hole is filled with transparent pixels.
Make a Selection or Choose a Layer
Open an image in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. In the Layers palette, choose the layer that contains the data you want to rotate. If you want to rotate a selection, use any of the selection tools to select the portion of the image you want to rotate. To rotate text or a shape, continue to step 2, where the text or shape will be selected by the Move tool automatically.
Select the Move Tool
If you're rotating an entire layer rather than a selection, maximize the image window and adjust the zoom so that the image is smaller than the window itself. This will give you the space you need in step 3 to grab the layer and rotate it.
Select the Move tool on the Toolbox; the mouse pointer changes to a solid black arrow. Enable the Show Bounding Box option. A bounding box surrounds the data in the selection or the chosen layer.
Rotate the Selection or Layer
Position the mouse pointer just outside a corner handle on the bounding box. If you're rotating all the data on a layer, the corners of the bounding box are located at the corners of the layer. As you move the mouse pointer over a corner handle, the pointer changes to a curved arrow like the one shown. Drag in the direction you want to rotate. When you rotate selected data, the area formerly occupied by the selection is made transparent or is filled with the background color (if you're moving data on the Background layer). You can also use any of the following techniques to rotate:
When you're done rotating the selection or layer, click the Commit button (the check mark) on the Options bar. To cancel your adjustment, click Cancel (the circle-with-a-slash icon) instead.
To rotate a copy of the selection, press Alt as you drag. This technique cannot be used to rotate and copy a layer.
To rotate by 15-degree increments, press Shift as you drag.
To alter the reference point around which rotation takes place, first choose Image, Rotate, Free Rotate Selection or Image, Rotate, Free Rotate Layer from the menu. Then click the reference point you want to use in the Reference Point Location grid on the Options bar.
View the Result
When you're satisfied with the results, make any other changes you want and save the PSD file. Resave the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers (if any) intact so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want.
I wanted the flag to appear diagonally behind ol' Abe, so I rotated the layer containing just the flag image. To get the see-through effect, I changed the flag layer's blend mode to Soft Overlay.