How to Rotate a Selection in Photoshop

Rotating a canvas in Photoshop with the Rotate View tool in Photoshop is pretty simple. But what if you want to rotate only a piece of an image? That’s also really easy to do, though the method isn’t obvious.

Hi! I’m Cara, a photographer who loves to dabble in image manipulation. At some point, that means I’m going to need to rotate a selection within my images. 

Come along and I’ll show you how!

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: Make a Selection

For demonstration purposes, I just made a quick selection with the Rectangular Marquee selection tool. Does my banana bread look yummy? My kids sure enjoyed it!

You’ll notice you can’t do much with the selection once made. To be able to make changes, we need to be able to transform them. 

Step 2: Transform and Rotate

You’ll find the Transform tool in the Edit menu up on the menu bar. There are a couple of options here. 

Hover over Transform and you’ll notice there are a few options for rotating. Select the Rotate option and boxes will appear on the corners of the selection. 

You’ll also notice the cursor turns into a bent arrow around the edges of the selection. Click and drag to the left or right when that cursor is active to rotate the selection as desired. 

Alternatively, you can select Rotate 180°, Rotate 90° Clockwise, or Rotate 90° Counter Clockwise to jump to those positions. 

Or you can select Free Transform right above the Transform command or hit Ctrl + T (Cmd + T). This will make the boxes appear so you can click and drag to rotate. 

Rotate on a Different Axis

Notice the little crosshairs in the center of the image? That is the axis of rotation. It doesn’t have to stay in the center. Click and drag to a different point in the selection. Now, when you click and drag to rotate, the selection will spin around the new axis of rotation.

That’s it! For once, something super simple in Photoshop.

Interested to learn about other tools in Photoshop? Check out this tutorial on how to use the lasso tool!

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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