How to straighten an image in Photoshop easily

7How to straighten a picture in photoshop with the ruler tool

If I draw a cartoon in pen and import the scan into photoshop I don’t usually scan it perfectly level.  The Ruler Tool which you can find sharing the same spot on the Tools Pallete as the Eyedropper Tool (color selector) is one of the easy ways to correct this.  This applies to any images (documents, drawing, photo etc.) that are not quite level on the horizontal plane.

Here are the steps in Photoshop to make the correction (I am using Photoshop CS5 for this example. However the priciples are the same in any version including Photoshop Elements).

How to straighten an image in Photoshop

As you can see the tortoise cartoon is skewed and I want it to be more or less level before I start to add color and background.

The first task is to locate the Ruler Tool.  In the tools pallete right click the Eyedropper Tool and a second menu will appear.  select the Ruler Tool.

selecting the measure tool in photoshop

To mark the horizontal plane I wanted I clicked on the left by the front foot and then drag and clicked at the back of the rear leg.


Open the Image tab then select Image Rotation/ Arbitary

how to select arbirary rotation photoshop

This opens the ‘Rotate Canvas‘ control box.  In this case the angle of rotation is 14.71o clock Wise (CW) which was already calculated by making the previous ‘Arbitary’ selection.  Clicking OK processed the rotation automatically.

image angle in rotate canvas photoshop

The canvas and image are rotated 14.710  clockwise which levels the tortoise.

cropping canvas picture size in photoshop

using crop tool photoshopThe last job is to crop the image so that the white background is trimmed.  Select the Crop Tool in the Tools Pallette.



Click and drag the Crop Tool to the desired shape and press Enter 

sizing the crop tool area in photoshop

Cropped to size – nice and level and ready for more work.

cropping an image in photoshop

Quite an easy process which, when you get used to doing this a few times becomes second nature and you don’t have to think about it.  

image rotated to horizontal and cropped in photoshop

There are other ways to do this but I find setting the horizontal using this method the quickest and most effective.  This is particularly useful for scans of document and photo’s to get them perfectly level.

I don’t tend you use many keyboard shortcuts  as there are so many to remember. However if you would rather work with shortcuts  Marijan Tompa, graphic designer from Subotica (Serbia), has produced a superb pdf  of comprehensive keyboard shortcuts for Photoshop (Mac and PC) which you can access here.

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