How to Scale a Layer in Photoshop

We’ve talked before on Photoshop Buzz about resizing layers. Scaling a layer is basically the same thing, with one key difference – the aspect ratio is maintained as you resize. This means that the proportion of height to width doesn’t change, though the overall size of the layer does. 

Hey there, I’m Cara! Working with layers is a vital element of using Photoshop. Scaling these layers to the right size is invaluable for creating images and designs in Photoshop.

Thankfully, it’s super easy! Let me show you how. 

How to Scale a Layer in Photoshop 

How do you resize layers in Photoshop without distorting them? This used to be more of a problem a couple of years ago. When using the Free Transform tool, you had to hold the Shift key to maintain the aspect ratio while resizing. 

Scaling with the Free Transform Tool

Now when you use the Free Transform tool, the layer will automatically scale. If you don’t want it to scale, then you hold the Shift key to be able to change the aspect ratio.

Try it out. Hit Ctrl + T or Command + T on the keyboard to activate the Free Transform tool. Make sure the layer you want to affect is selected in the Layers Panel.

A blue box with handles appears around the layer. Click on one of the corners and drag. Notice that the dragon changes sizes proportionally?

Now, hold down the Shift key while dragging to change the aspect ratio.

Scaling with the Scale Function

The scale function also gives us an option for scaling a layer. Go to Edit, hover over Transform, and choose Scale.

You’ll get the same blue box around the layer. Click and drag a handle to resize the image proportionately. Again, hold Shift if you don’t want to maintain the aspect ratio. 

If the layer isn’t maintaining its aspect ratio as you expect, check the link between the height and width boxes in the options bar. It should be dark to indicate that it is active. 

That’s it! Adobe has made scaling layers super easy now, though old-timers with Photoshop are grumbling about the change. 

Curious to learn more tricks with layers in Photoshop? Check out our tutorial on how to flip a layer here!

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Your email address will not be published.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 *