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Adobe Digital Imaging How-to #55: Using Live Preview Rotation

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Dan Moughamian talks about his favorite uses of the Rotate View tool in Photoshop CS5.
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When editing pictures in Photoshop, there are two tools that can make the process of "maneuvering around" your photo more efficient. One is the Rotate View tool, adobeimaging_rotate.jpg, introduced in Photoshop CS4. My favorite use for Rotate View arises when I need to paint or mask along a contour that extends from the right half of the image toward the upper-left corner.

This can be difficult to mimic with a long brushstroke because I am right-handed (our wrists didn't evolve to handle this type of motion efficiently—we either have to pick up our hand and move the stylus, or extend the stylus' reach with our fingers; both can be awkward). Go ahead and try it! Notice which types of contours are easiest to mimic with your dominant hand as you make long brushstrokes. Figure 55a shows an image with problematic lines and contours.

Figure 55a

Figure 55a Sometimes painting or masking around an object in your scene can be difficult because of the subject's orientation relative to how your hand moves the stylus.

To resolve this problem, you can spin the image preview between brushstrokes (without rotating the canvas), so that the difficult contours become properly oriented to the natural movement of your hands when using a stylus. Press and hold the R key to temporarily invoke the Rotate View tool, then drag your document to rotate. Here, I rotated the masts and arms on the boat.

When you release the R Key, your brush tool remains active, so you can continue masking or painting (Figure 55b). Continue this process iteratively until your edits are complete. When you've finished masking or painting, press the Escape key to return the image preview to its normal orientation.

Figure 55b

Figure 55b Once the image preview has been temporarily rotated, it becomes much easier to follow any complex contours with a brushstroke.

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