Rotating a Single Layer


Today’s Question: I’m trying to rotate one image layer in a composite image in Photoshop by 180 degrees. However, when I use the rotation command all layers in the entire image rotate. Is there a way to only rotate a single image layer?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To rotate an individual image layer in Photoshop you need to use a command found on the Edit > Transform menu, rather than on the Image > Image Rotation menu.

More Detail: In Photoshop you’ll find a set of rotation commands on the Image > Image Rotation menu, which includes options for a 180-degree rotation, a 90-degree rotation either clockwise or counter-clockwise, and an Arbitrary option for rotation by any number of degrees. However, these options are for rotating the entire image, including all image layers, not just the currently selected layer.

If you want to rotate an individual image layer, start by clicking the thumbnail for that layer on the Layers panel so the applicable layer will be selected. Then from the menu choose Edit > Transform. There you’ll find options for a 180-degree rotation or a 90-degree rotation either clockwise or counter-clockwise. These commands will only rotate the currently active layer on the Layers panel, not the entire image.

Note, by the way, that there are also options to flip the image either horizontally or vertically on both of these menus. As noted above, the commands on the Image > Image Rotation menu will flip all layers for the entire image, while the commands found on the Edit > Transform menu will only flip the currently selected layer on the Layers panel.