Understanding Photoshop is a biweekly column that takes an in-depth look at how digital photographs are built and manipulated. It is a college-level course in plain English for free at Photofocus. To learn more see this article.

Don’t skip column 17

Sometimes your image will need to be rotated or flipped. Loading your image upside down on the scanner, loading a slide backwards into a slide scanner, or turning the camera on its side when taking a portrait may cause inverted or reversed images. You may also want to make a change to your image for compositional purposes.

The Rotate Canvas command offers several choices. You can choose to rotate the image 180? (half a rotation), 90? clockwise or counterclockwise, or an arbitrary amount (the user types in a number of degrees). Additionally, the entire canvas can be flipped (creating a mirrored image). You can choose to flip the canvas horizontally or vertically:

  1. Open the image Rotate.tif or Rotate2.tif
  2. Choose Image > Rotate Canvas 90? CCW (counterclockwise). The image is now properly oriented.

Fluid View Rotation

There may be times when you want to freely rotate your view (just as you might angle a piece of paper to make it easier to draw). In this case, you are rotating just the view, not the actual image.

  1. Just press R to access the Rotate View tool.
  2. You can then click within the canvas and rotate the image for distortion-free viewing at any desired angle. This makes it really easy when painting or cloning to avoid having to crank your head or wrist in the middle of a brush stroke.

Photoshop provides a compass to help you stay oriented, and you can click the Reset View button in the Options bar to return the canvas to its default orientation. You’ll need a supported graphics card to use this feature.