Tools might be the most time consuming part of learning Photoshop because you need to use them over and over again to build muscle memory so your hands would move without you even have to think about it. So in this part of Photoshop 101 for memory keepers, I’ll be talking about Photoshop tools but most importantly the Move tool. I’m dedicating this article to Move tool because there’s more to this tool than meets the eye.
Previously I’ve talked about how to setup your document and your Photoshop workspace. So, if you haven’t read that first, go ahead and read it and come back here so you have better knowledge about using Photoshop if you’re a complete beginner.
How to go about mastering the tools
Give yourself enough time to master the Photoshop tools. It won’t happen over night. You need to practice using them. So, I suggest that as you go through each tool, take a break and try using the tool yourself rather than just keep reading it.
You don’t have to complete a scrapbook layout to practice the tools. Just open an experimental document in Photoshop, bring in a few digital scrapbook supplies, and practice the tools. Don’t be afraid that you’ll ruin your supplies. Because, when you bring in a file into a new Photoshop document, it won’t affect the original file when you save your document. So, if you’re ready let’s get started!
Learning the ins and outs of Move tool
Move tool is one of the basic tools we’ll use over and over again. As you can understand from its name, Move tool allows you to move a layer around the document. The shortcut key for this tool is “V”.
If “auto-select” box is checked, you can freely move different layers by clicking on the object. You can either check this box from the tools bar or you can temporarily enable/disable it by holding down Ctrl (Cmd on a Mac) on your keyboard while you click on the objects in your document. Personally, I love that “auto select” box is unchecked by default and I can temporarily enable it while I’m holding down Ctrl. This option makes it easy to move different objects on the go rather than finding it’s layer on layers panel.
Aligning & distributing
Other than moving around the layers and objects, this tool also allows you to “align” and “distribute” layers among themselves or relative to the document boundaries. To align one object (a layer) within the document boundaries, hit Ctrl (Cmd on a Mac) + A on your keyboard to select the document, select your layer, and click on the align buttons. You can align vertically and horizontally.
If you want to align two or more objects, select all the objects(layers) you want to align, select move tool, and click on align buttons.
Let’s say you want to equally distribute a few objects(layers) among themselves on a horizontal or vertical line. Again, select all the objects(layers) you want to align, select move tool, and click on distribute buttons.
Resize & rotate
Another useful feature of Move tool is that it allows you to resize the objects or rotate them. There are two ways of activating this feature of Move tool. You can either click on “Show transform controls” checkbox to enable it. This will display the boundaries of the object. By clicking and holding the corners of the object, you can shrink or increase the size of the object. And also you can rotate the object. Once you’re done with resizing/rotating, hit enter to apply the resizing/rotation.
The second way you can activate the transform ability of Move tool is while the object is selected, and move tool is selected, hit Ctrl (Cmd on a Mac) + T on your keyboard. This will temporarily show the bounding box of the object. When you’re done resizing or rotating, hit enter to get out of the transform function. I choose to use this shortcut for transforming because when you enable the bounding box (transform controls) from the toolbar, there is a great chance you’ll accidentally resize or rotate the objects while you’re working on your layout.
There is a hidden feature to transformation which is keeping the proportions of the object while resizing. Meaning that, the width and height of the object will increase or decrease relative to each other. Once you activate the transformation ability of Move tool, hold down Shift on your keyboard while resizing. And if you hold down Shift+Alt together, you’ll not only resize with locked proportions but also you’ll be transforming from the center of the object. Which is useful because the object will remain on its initial place, and saving you from moving the object back to its place once again.
Similarly, if you hold down Shift key while transformation feature is active, and you start rotating the object, you’ll realize that it will rotate the object with 15° increments.
Another thing about rotation is that you can change the center point of rotation. Let’s say, I want to rotate a leaf around a flower to see which position looks better, I can do that by entering into transformation mode by hitting Ctrl (Cmd)+T while move tool is selected, move the dot in the center of the leaf to where you want the leaf to rotate around, in my case it’s the center of the flower, and rotate around that.
While in transformation mode, you can also manipulate the shape of the object. This is an advanced technique in digital scrapbooking but why not learn it while we’re covering the Move tool! Press Ctrl(Cmd)+T on your keyboard to get into transformation mode, hold down Ctrl (Cmd) and start dragging the corners of the object. You can manipulate the shape of the object this way.
If you want to warp the object, simply click on the warp button while you’re in transformation mode. You can choose a warp shape from the tool bar, or you can drag the handles to make your own shape. As digital scrapbookers, we usually use warp transformation to create realistic shadows. I’ll get back to that when I’ll be teaching you how to use layer styles.
Let’s say, there is an object that’s really tiny that you can’t quite click on by holding down Ctrl. Then you can use selection area method to select it. For example, this stamp I have in my document has very thin edges and I can’t select it by clicking on it. While the Move tool is selected, I hold down Ctrl (Cmd on a Mac) on my keyboard and while clicking left on my mouse, I’m drawing a selection area on the stamp. You should be able to see marching ants. Release the Ctrl key, and now you selected the item.
Selecting multiple objects
The last feature of the Move tool I’m going to teach you is to select multiple objects without the need of finding them in your Layers panel. To do that, Select Move tool, hold down Ctrl (Cmd) on your key board, click on the object you want to select, while keep holding down Ctrl and Shift keys, click on another object. When you release the Ctrl key and start moving the objects around, you’ll see that all the objects you selected moves together. If you want to remove an object from selection, simply click on it again while holding down Ctrl ( Cmd)+Shift keys.
And this is all there is to Move tool! On the next article, I’ll show you the rest of the tools so you can have a complete knowledge of Photoshop tools. Until then, keep practicing the Move tool!
Did you like this tutorial? If so, comment below to let me know your takeaways from this article.
As always, keep documenting because life’s worth recording.