Dec 09, 2014

How to Master the Transform Tool in Photoshop

How to Master the Transform Tool in Photoshop

In today’s episode, learn the ins and outs of the Transform Tool, and use that knowledge to apply any image to an iPhone! And, don’t miss a very luscious blooper at the end!

The Tool

To begin, duplicate the Background layer and hit Cmd + T. Now you are ready to Transform!

Here are some tips for Transforming:

  • If you hold shift while turning, it will turn in perfect increments. If you hold shift while scaling, it will Scale in Proportion to the original image.

  • Clicking outside of the image and dragging the mouse will rotate. Clicking inside of the image and dragging will move the whole image around.

  • Holding option while scaling will Scale from the center point of the image.

  • Holding command and dragging corners will allow you to change the perspective.

Applying Technique

Adding an image to another and making it look realistic is easier than you might think! For this episode, we add a sunset photo to an iPhone Screen. First, we have to make a selection of the Screen. We use the polygonal Selection Tool in this case. Make sure to do this on the Background layer, with the image layer above it turned off. Next, turn the top layer on again and select it. Then, click the Layer Mask button. Voila! The image will only appear inside of your selection.

At this point, the layer mask is locked to the layer. If you want to change this, click the lock icon between the two. Now, the layer can move freely and you can position your image with more control.

Final Touches

Using the tips from earlier, Size your image appropriately. Drag the corners to match a realistic perspective (follow the edges of the phone).

Finishing touches include putting a slight blur around the edge of the Layer Mask, and adding shine to the corner of the image.


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  • user image
    Bill Hughes

    I’ve been utilizing the PS 101 and 201 tutorial that I purchased some time ago. This is a great reminder. Thanks, Phlearn.

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    James D

    As always I got Phlerned today. I do have an observation about this tutorial, Aaron has a key eye for details and it really shows in his work, was their not any time to talk about the light fringe that would have shown in the shadows from the added light source of the iphone, mainly in the shadows of the hand? As always learned something new. Thanks team Phlearn.

    • user image

      Hi James!

      Thank you for watching! We didn’t talk too much about the reflection/lighting since the focus of the video about about transformation :p

  • user image

    Thanks. I was thinking why not just pull the individual corners to meet up with the corners of the iPhone but I learned how that would distort the image and not be true to the perspective. Obvious, but I hadn’t thought about it.

    Also, I’m noticing you are making an effort to quickly summarize the key elements at the end of your tutorials recently. I really appreciate that.

    I’m learning so much from Phlearn, and loving every minute of it. Thanks!

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    Nishi Sharma

    Fantastic tutorial, very useful. Love your sense of humour and the teaching style. Keep up the good works…

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    Alex Mitchell

    Using a new player for your videos now? I kinda like having the bottom toolbar, so we can see how long the video is, and to be able to rewind and re-watch when needed, because sometimes you zoom through stuff pretty quick, and I need to rewind to understand how you did something.

    • user image

      Hi Alex,
      It was unfortunately an issue with Youtube that took us a couple of episodes to notice, but our previous ones should have the player back!

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    Trevor Coultart

    Nice. Only thought: why polygon lassoo to select the screen? You’re normally such a fan of magic wand, which would have worked with one click in this case.

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    mark Stewart

    Another excellent and well explained tutorial. Greetings and Merry Xmas from Dublin.

  • user image

    Hi guys,

    Aaron, thank you once again! Just a quick ask – what shortcut are you using to bring up the filter effect on the layer mask (in this example, when you add the blur effect to the mask to make it more realistic)? I often watch you do this, and I am sure it is in one of the pro tuts I have, but alas…

    Merry Christmas, Phlearn!