Rotating The Canvas in Adobe Photoshop Elements :: Digital Photo Secrets

Rotating The Canvas in Adobe Photoshop Elements

by David Peterson 8 comments

Rotation is the one photographic adjustment every needs to learn. Mistakes happen. Sometimes the camera accidentally flips images on their side. Thankfully, most basic image editors allow you to rotate your images. So does Adobe Photoshop Elements. I’ll show you how.

Rotating and Correcting Camera Distortion Video

If you prefer to watch and listen rather than read, watch the video below on rotation and correcting camera distortion.

Step 1. Open the photo you want to rotate.

I went ahead and grabbed an image off of the Flickr Create Commons.

Photo by Flickr user Rev Stan

Step 2. Rotate

Go to Image --> Rotate and make your selection. You can rotate 90 degrees to the right or left, flip the image horizontal or vertical, or enter a custom rotation amount.

Step 3. Try out the other options

If you flip horizontal, you’ll be given the mirror image of the picture you started with. The same image, now flipped, looks like this.

Custom Rotation

Go to Image --> Rotate --> Custom, and you can pick a custom angle to rotate your entire canvas. This doesn’t have a lot of applications in real photography, but it is good to know if you need a very precise tool.

Photoshop Elements creates a transparent canvas behind your image. You can copy or paste it anywhere, and the transparency will be preserved. If you save it as a .jpeg, however, it will not.

The Free Rotate Tool

If you go to Image --> Rotate --> Free Rotate Layer, you can rotate your image until you like the way it looks. Be aware that this menu option only shows up if you have already selected the layer you wish to manipulate. It will not appear otherwise.

The Straighten Tool

You might be compelled to try out the straighten option in the Image --> Rotate menu, but I’d strongly encourage you not to. It doesn’t always know what it’s trying to achieve. Sometimes the result is completely wrong. This is one of those areas where humans still beat the machines. Trust your own eyes and use the Free Rotate tool instead.

A simple application: Fixing a building

Let’s use the same rotation tools to fix a building that we accidentally photographed a bit askew. Here’s our starting image.

What better choice than the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
By Flickr user roy.luck

Well, never mind us photographing the building incorrectly. This is an accurate image of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But what would it look like straight up and down? Let’s use the free rotate tool to find out. Go to Image --> Rotate --> Free Rotate Layer.

You’ll notice that the bottom half of the building is a bit cut off. We’ll have to crop our image slightly.

Go to Image --> Crop. Select right at the bottom edge of the building, click the checkmark, and you should end up with something like this.

Wow. We just fixed the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Where’s our commission? There are better Photoshop tools for fixing buildings gone astray, but these two do a decent job. If you’re interested in the more accurate way of doing it, try out Filter --> Correct Camera Distortion (see the video). It allows you to fix lens issues and bend buildings towards you.

Rotating is easy

In fact, it’s one of the easiest things you can do in Photoshop Elements. You can go for a custom rotation, or you can use the basic presets. If you have any questions about how to use this tool, please leave them below.

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  1. Danae says:

    Dear David
    Thank you so much for all the tips, it has been a great help!
    I think you are doing a wonferful job, and the pics with text does well enough.
    Thanx again,
    South Africa

  2. Sharon Blais says:

    I love the new videos. It is much easier when you can see it being done! Thanks a million and please keep up the good work!

  3. Choong says:

    I love all your 3 tutorials in video format, it is much better than reading on my own. I can now understand better comparing to reading. Please keep up the good work and thanks alot. Looking forward to more tutorial especially on the Depth of Field. I can never get the photo with my subject clear in the foreground and the background blurry even though I have set a shallow depth of field like F4 using a 14-42mm lens on a four-third camera.

  4. Stephen says:

    I definitely like video over the written word, but the combination is even better.

  5. Volker Scholz says:

    Thanks heaps for this. Especially the rotating / camera distortion. Like the format re video & text combined. Well done. Keep it up.

  6. Keith Winfield says:

    I have now watched all 3 tutorials, how easy it is to learn with your instructions for someone trying to get into Photshop.

    Again, thank you

  7. Keith Winfield says:

    I think this has opened up a new way of learning and you have given a 5 star video tutorial. Full marks to you and thank you

  8. Terri Fulper says:

    I love your tutorials on photoshop Elements. I like black and white photos, and would like to know how to add color to one part on a black and white, and leave the rest alone. Would you please do a video explaining that
    procedure? Again, thank you David!

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