How to Resize a Layer in Photoshop CS5

One of the biggest reasons to use Photoshop is the ability to separate image elements into layers. This allows you to change individual elements, meaning that you can change the size of a single layer in Photoshop without affecting the rest of the image elements.

An important distinction when you are creating and editing images in Adobe Photoshop CS5 is the distinction between layers and images.

Many of the tools and utilities in Photoshop, especially those that change the size or orientation of your selection, will affect the entire image.

We have written about flipping layers in Photoshop CS5 and rotating Photoshop CS5 layers, but both of those options will leave your layer the same size as it started.

Learning how to change the size of a layer in Photoshop CS5, instead of changing the entire image size, will make the selected layer smaller or larger while leaving the rest of the image alone.

Use this feature when you want to change the size of a layer element in relation to the rest of your image.

How to Change Layer Size in Photoshop CS5

  1. Open the image in Photoshop.
  2. Choose the layer to resize.
  3. Click Edit.
  4. Select Transform, then Scale.
  5. Resize the layer.
  6. Press Enter when done.

Our guide continues below with additional information on resizing a layer in Photoshop, including pictures for the steps above.

Adjust a Layer’s Size in Photoshop CS5 (Guide with Pictures)

It can be difficult to blindly tell how large an image element should be, especially when you are copying the element from another image.

Different resolutions and pixels per inch can affect the size of an element, forcing you to resize that element to make it work with your current image.

Using layers allows you to isolate the elements that you want to work with into smaller units that can be edited independently from one another.

Step 1: Begin the process of changing your layer size in Photoshop CS5 by opening the image containing the layer you want to resize.

Step 2: Click the layer that you want to resize from the Layers panel at the right side of the window.

If the Layers panel is not visible, press F7 on your keyboard to display it.

the layers panel for the example

Step 3: Click the Edit tab at the top of the window.

Step 4: Click Transform, then click Scale.

You can also press Ctrl + T on your keyboard to bring up the transformation tools.

using the transform tool

The toolbar at the top of your window will change so that it looks like the image below.

how to change the size of a layer in photoshop cs5

Step 5: Use the top toolbar to resize the layer.

The X and Y values indicate the center of the layer. If you adjust the values in these fields, your layer will be moved to the new center point that you have defined. The default values for these fields place the center of the layer at the center of your canvas.

The W and H fields are the ones that you will use to change your layer size. To keep the image in scale, you will need to change the values by the same size. For example, in the image below, I have adjusted my settings so that my W value is 50% and my H value is 50%.

a resized layer in photoshop cs5

Note that there are also boxes on each side and corner of the image. If you click and drag these boxes, you can also resize the layer. It is often helpful to use the boxes to manually resize the image, then adjust the W and H field values so that the layer stays in scale.

Step 6: When you have finished resizing the layer, press the Enter key on your keyboard to apply the changes.

If you decide that you do not like the layer size change, press Ctrl + Z on your keyboard to undo the action.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I unlock a layer in Photoshop?

Click on the lock icon in the layers panel, then drag that lock icon to the trash can at the bottom of the panel.

How do I undo a transform in Photoshop?

Press Ctrl + Z on your keyboard or choose the Undo option from the Edit menu.

How do I change the size of the entire image in Photoshop?

Click “Edit” at the top of the window, then choose “Image Size.”

How do I change the size of the canvas without changing the size of the image in Photoshop?

Select “Edit” at the top of the window, then choose the “Canvas Size” option.

How do I resize an object in Photoshop?

You can resize an object in Photoshop in the same way that you resize a layer. Select the object using one of the application’s assorted selection tools, then press Ctrl + T on your keyboard to open the transform tool. You can then resize the object as needed.

How do I make a layer smaller?

If you would like to make one of your image layers smaller, then you can do so by selecting that layer, then clicking Edit > Transform > Scale. You can then adjust the values in the toolbar so that the layer is the desired size.

What is the shortcut to resize a layer in Photoshop?

There is no one keyboard shortcut that will allow you to resize a layer in Photoshop, as there are a number of different resizing options in the application. However, you can use the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl + T to open the “Free Transform” tool, which you can then use to adjust the size of the layer.

More Information on How to Resize a Layer in Photoshop with Free Transform

Our article above discusses using the “Transform” options found on the “Edit” menu, but you may be struggling to find the option there that is best for your needs.

One other option when you want to resize a layer is to select that layer, then press “Ctrl + T” on your keyboard. This uses the “Free Transform” tool instead. Once it is active you will see a blue rectangle around the layer, with assorted handles on the perimeter.

If you click on one of those handles you will be able to resize the layer. You can also elect to hold the Shift key on your keyboard, which will affect whether or not the proportions of the layer are constrained while you resize.

Finally if you select the Move tool from the toolbox at the left side of the window, or simply click and drag on the selection, you will be able to move the layer around the canvas.

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