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How to Transform Layers in Photoshop Elements 11

When working with multiple images in Photoshop Elements 11, you no doubt have to scale, or even rotate, some images to fit them into your composite. Fortunately, Elements makes scaling an easy chore by providing you with the Transform and Free Transform commands on the Image menu.

When it comes to transforming layers and transforming selections, the methods are identical. After an element is on a layer, you can just choose the appropriate transformation command, and off you go. In addition, you can apply a transformation to multiple layers simultaneously if you select the various layers first.

Here’s how to transform a layer:

  1. In the Photo Editor, in Expert mode, select a layer in the Layers panel.

    You can also apply a transformation to multiple layers simultaneously by linking the layers first.

  2. Choose Image→Transform→Free Transform.

    A bounding box surrounds the contents of your layer. (In the example, the bounding box surrounds the dolphin layer.)

    [Credit: ©istockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs Image #18860532 and JohnnyH5 Image #915486]
    Credit: ©istockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs Image #18860532 and JohnnyH5 Image #915486
  3. Transform your layer as you want.

    You have several options:

    • Resize the contents: Drag a corner or side handle to size the contents. Press Shift while dragging to constrain the proportions. You can also click the link icon between the W and H fields to do the same.

    • Rotate the contents: Move the mouse cursor just outside a corner handle until the cursor turns into a curved arrow and then drag.

    • Distort, skew, or apply perspective to the contents: Right-click and choose a command from the context menu that appears. You can also click the Rotate, Scale, and Skew icons in the Tool Options as well as enter Transform values numerically in the fields.

    If you want to apply just a single transformation, you can also choose the individual Distort, Skew, and Perspective commands from the Image→Transform menu. Or, to rotate or flip, you can choose Image→Rotate.

  4. When your layer is transformed to your liking, double-click inside the bounding box.

    The bounding box disappears, leaving behind your transformed layer.

Try to perform all transformations in one execution. Don’t go back numerous times to apply various transformations. With the exception of rotations in multiples of 90 degrees, every time you transform pixels, you put your image through the interpolation process (increasing, decreasing, or remapping pixels).

Done repeatedly, this process can degrade the quality of your image, which is why you’re prudent to use the Transform→Free Transform command rather than individual commands — so that all transformations are executed in one fell swoop.

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