How to Rotate Brushes in Photoshop

Brushes in Photoshop are a handy tool that allows you to do many things. You can add cool effects, textures, or even use brushes to add elements like fairy wings or sparkles to your photos. 

Hello! I’m Cara and more than once I’ve used my photography and Photoshop skills to turn my little girls into fairies. But I don’t always want the brush to be straight up-and-down, that would be far too restrictive.

So you can rotate brushes in Photoshop. I’ll show you the official way as well as a handy shortcut, so stick around to the end!

Note: the screenshots below are taken from the Windows version of Photoshop CC. If you are using the Mac version, they will look slightly different.

Step 1: Open the Brushes Panel

You can get to this panel a couple of different ways. 

First, select the brush tool by hitting B on the keyboard or selecting it from the toolbox on the left side of the screen.

Then, click the little arrow next to the brush graphic in the options bar. This bar is nestled right under the menu bar at the top of the screen. The brush panel will pop out beneath.

The other way is to click on the Brush Settings icon on the thin panel to the left of the layers panel on the right side of the screen. 

Note: depending on your workspace layout, this panel may not appear or the brush settings icon may not appear on it. For example, it appears in the default Photoshop Essentials workspace, but not in the Photography layout.

Step 2: Rotate the Brush

Regardless of how you get to the brush panel, look for a circle cut into quarters with an arrow and two dots. 

Grab the arrow and drag your mouse up, down, or around to rotate the brush how you want. 

This is great, but there are a couple of shortfalls to this method. First, it’s a little clunky. Though there are only a couple of steps to get there, when you’re rotating the brush a lot, it quickly becomes a pain to keep going over to the brush panel.

Second, you can’t see what you’re doing as you rotate it. You’re using your mouse to click and drag on the arrow, which means the preview isn’t showing up on top of the image. 

In other words, you have to keep going back and forth between the panel and the image until you get the angle you want. That becomes a pain even faster than the brush panel.

Shortcut to Rotate the Brush

Thankfully, there is a quicker way! 

With your brush selected, hit the directional arrow keys (or ?) on your keyboard. The left key rotates your brush to the left and the right key rotates it to the right.

The rotation is 1 degree for each time you hit the key. This is perfect for getting precise angles. However, it is also a pain when you want to rotate the brush 45 degrees to the left. Who wants to hit that dumb arrow key 45 times? 

To speed up the rotation, hold the Shift key while hitting the arrow. Now it will jump 15 degrees every time you hit the arrow key. Piece of cake!

Interested in learning more fun tricks in Photoshop? Don’t hesitate to check out more of our posts!

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.

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