Today’s Question: In your recent online workshop you used the transform command in Photoshop to change the shape of a selection. Can the other transform commands such as Skew be used for selections as well?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, the “other” transform commands found on the Edit > Transform menu in Photoshop can be used with selections. However, you may find it easier to work with these commands on a layer mask based on a selection, rather than directly on a selection.
More Detail: Photoshop features a Transform Selection command on the Select menu, which enables you to adjust the overall size and shape of a selection. This includes a Warp setting on the Options bar, which makes it possible to exercise considerable control over the shape of a selection.
Of course, the Transform Selection command is a variation on the Transform commands found on the Edit menu. The key difference is that the Transform Selection command is obviously aimed at changing the overall shape of a selection, while the commands found under Edit > Transform on the menu are aimed at adjusting the shape of pixel-based layers.
However, the various Transform commands can also be used on selections. If there is an active selection in Photoshop, choosing one of the Transform commands from the Edit menu will cause that transform to alter the shape of the selection, rather than the currently active layer on the Layers panel.
Transforming the shape of a selection can be a little challenging based on the animated dashed line used to indicate the selection edge. You may find it easier to instead either switch to Quick Mask mode (by pressing “Q” on the keyboard) before using one of the Transform commands on a selection, or by creating a layer mask based on the selection and then applying the Transform command to the layer mask.
Granted, in most cases a selection will likely have a somewhat irregular shape based on a specific area of the image, in which case the Transform commands may not prove especially helpful. However, when the selection has more of a geometric shape (such as an elliptical selection created with the Elliptical Marquee tool), the Transform commands can prove incredibly helpful for modifying the selection or a layer mask based on the selection.