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Photoshop: Rotate A Layer At A Custom Angle

Photoshop has more features than you can count. If someone sat down and wrote an extensive manual on the app, a newer version of it would be available before the manual was half-finished. Most people learn the basics of Photoshop and get to know the other features the more they work with it. Photoshop lets you freely rotate layers. The only problem is, if you’re rotating with a free hand, it’s not always easy to align layers and objects or to ensure you rotate them all to the same degree. Being off by a few degrees can, in the long run, make the final image look bad and it can make it harder to align objects. That’s why you should always rotate a layer at a precise angle instead of using free hand.

Custom Rotation Angle

To rotate a layer you need to first enter transform mode. Select the layer that you want to rotate and go to Edit>Free Transform. On older versions of Photoshop, the Free Transform option might be under Edit>Transform>Free Transform. On both old and new versions of Photoshop, you can use the Ctrl+T keyboard shortcut to enter Free Transform mode.

In free transform mode, the layer has a border around it with end points that you can click and drag to rotate it. If you hold down the Shift key and rotate a layer, it rotates by 15 degrees.

If that’s not enough and you need something between the preset rotation degrees, look at the bar at the very top. You will see an input field with an angle symbol next to it. This is where you can define a custom rotation degree. Enter anything between -180 to 180. The minus will rotate a layer counter clockwise whereas a positive degree number will rotate it clockwise.

Tap the Enter key to apply the new angle. You can do this multiple times to the same layer or object. You can rotate multiple layers at a custom angle by selecting them all and entering the rotation degree in the same input box. This applies to shapes as well as paths.

In both cases, you need to enter free transform mode and then use the angle input field at the top to rotate a layer or path or object.

Unfortunately, you cannot save a custom rotation setting. Each time you need to rotate a layer, you will have to enter the degree again. If you can’t rotate multiple layers at once due to the structure of your file, consider using guides to help you rotate to the correct angle with a free hand.

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