How to Resize a Layer in Photoshop

I don’t want to resize the whole thing, just that one piece!

Photoshop gives us the amazing ability to work in layers. Through this, we can place different elements of an image on different layers and work with them independently from the rest of the image. 

Hey there! I’m Cara and through my work as a product photographer, I’m often blending elements from different images together. They have to be the right size, otherwise, they look out of whack and it’s easy to tell the image is fake.

Let me show you how to resize a layer in Photoshop so you can have fun adding elements to images as well!

Note: the screenshots below are taken from the Windows version of Adobe Photoshop, if you’re using the Mac version, the navigations may look slightly different.

Step 1: Create a New Layer

In order to resize a layer, you need more than one layer in a document. I’ll be working with this off-the-wall image I created as an example. I shot the cup on the wall from the top down in a separate image.

These two images go together to make the final one. So we need to add the wall cup as a new layer on top of the main image.

With the wall cup image active, select the Move tool. Click anywhere in the image and drag up to the image tabs at the top. Hover over the main image tab until it appears, then drag the mouse down into the image. 

The cursor should turn into a little box with a plus sign. Let go and the wall cup will drop on top of the main image.

Step 2: Open the Transform Tool

When you create your new layer using the method I just showed you, it appears with the Transform tool already active. You can skip down to step 3.

If you got your layer differently, you’ll have to select the Transform tool. Hit Ctrl + T (Command + T) on the keyboard to activate the tool. If that doesn’t work, go to Edit in the menu bar at the top and choose Free Transform.

You’ll know the tool is active when you see a blue box with squares in the corners and on the sides appear around the layer.

Step 3: Drag and Resize

From here, resizing is easy! Simply grab one of the squares and drag with the mouse to resize. 

By default, the layer will maintain the same aspect ratio as you drag. If you want to change the aspect ratio (adjust the height independently of the width) hold down the Shift key while dragging. 

You can also rotate the layer by clicking at the corners and dragging around the layer. 

To better see what you’re doing if you’re trying to line something up, you can reduce the opacity of the layer. Once you’re happy with the positioning, accept the changes by hitting the Enter key or clicking the checkmark at the top. 

That’s it! Now you can bring in elements and match their size and positioning into your base image. Get creative with it and have fun!

Did you enjoy this quick explanation of how to resize a layer in Photoshop? Check out more of our stuff such as how to move a selection to learn more!

About Cara Koch
Cara fell in love with photography circa 2014 and has been exploring all corners of the imagery world ever since. When she felt limited by Lightroom, she dove headfirst into Photoshop to learn how to create the images she wanted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *