Photoshop Resize Layer: The Easiest, Quickest Tutorial You’ll See All Day

Looking to learn a trick or two about resizing a layer in Photoshop? You’ve found the right tutorial. Photoshop designs are dependent on layers. These layers allow the developer to manipulate the picture exactly the way they want. With layers, you can edit parts of the image while leaving the rest of the image untouched. I’ll walk you through step-by-step as if you know nothing about Photoshop, although if that’s the case, you might want to learn about Photoshop Essentials.

Step 1

In order to resize a layer, you’re going to need a layer first, right? So, if you have a picture you’ve previously created in Photoshop – that has layers – go ahead and open it and then skip to step 4. If you don’t have an image with layers created yet, then continue to Step 2 and I’ll walk you through how to make one.

Step 2

You’ll need to open a new canvas to get started. Go to File–>New to do this. A screen will pop up asking you to adjust the size of the canvas. If you want, you can change the height and the width to match the image you plan on creating. If you’re not sure, start off with something like width: 600 pixels and height: 600 pixels. You can always adjust this later.

Step 3

This white canvas is your background. You need to add a few layers on top of this background to give you maximum flexibility while designing. To create a new layer, go to your layers palette which is in the bottom right hand corner of Photoshop CC. There is a tab that says layers make sure it is the one clicked on. You’ll see a white thumbnail and the word background. On the bottom of that little panel there is an icon that looks like a dog eared page. Click that and you’ll have your first new layer.

If you plan on using the shapes tool to do your first drawing, you don’t need to create a new layer; when you draw the shape on the background, a new layer will automatically be created with the title of your shape tool and a “1”. See the third example below.


Step 3

You’ll notice that the layer is highlighted in the picture above. That means it’s active and you can design or edit it. So, go ahead and design a piece of whatever you have in mind. I’m going to draw a simple shape for the tutorial. (This means my new layer will look like example 3 above.)

My image and layer 1

Step 4

Now that you have something drawn in layer 1, you want to use a tool called free transform to resize and even rotate a layer. There are two ways to engage this tool, 1) Go to Edit–>Free Transform, 2) Hit CTRL +T. Option two is called a shortcut. All the tools in Photoshop have their own shortcut that makes accessing them really easy.

Step 5

Okay, assuming the free transform tool is on and your layer is selected, you should see anchor points around the canvas. This is similar to an image when you are trying to resize or edit it.

  • If you click on a corner anchor point and drag it inward to a central point, the layer will begin to shrink both vertically and horizontally. It won’t stay perfectly proportional unless you hold down SHIFT while you drag. Let go of the mouse when the layer is the size you want.

  • If you click on the same corner anchor point and drag your mouse outward, your layer will begin to grow in the same semi-proportional way.

  • If you click on the points on the vertical sides of the layer and drag it either to the center to decrease the width, or away from the layer to increase the width.

  • Likewise, if you grab a horizontal anchor point (either on the top or the bottom) and drag it towards the center, the height will decrease and if you grab it away from the center, you’ll increase the height.

When you’re done resizing, push enter to secure it. Pretty easy. You could probably be a Photoshop Guru.

Step 6

You’ve successfully resized your layer, now let’s learn how to rotate it. Since the free transform tool is now deactivated, click on the layer you want to edit, and go to Edit–>Free Transform, or hit CTRL+T. You should see the anchor points around the layer again.

Step 7

To rotate, hold your mouse pointer on the outside of a corner anchor. You should see a half moon shaped line with an arrow on either end. Click while your mouse pointer looks like this and slowly move your mouse in the direction you want your image to rotate. If you rotated the image too far you can either 1) go to the other corner to balance out the rotation, or, 2) hit CTRL+Z which is the shortcut for undo. That way you can start over again.

When you are satisfied with the size and rotation of your image, you should click save under File–>Save.

If you want to adjust multiple images, go to your layers palette and make sure the layer you want to edit is highlighted and follow the steps above.

This trick is how you can create collages like this one! Each picture is a different layer and I just resized them and rotated a couple of them to create this finished product.

If you were able to follow along with that, I bet you could learn to master Photoshop in this online course.