PhotoShop Makes it Easy to Quickly Straighten a Scan or Photo



If you begin work with a raw photograph or scan, chances are the image will be off-kilter – maybe just a little bit crooked, maybe a lot. Here’s an easy fix to straighten your image that does not require guesswork of how many degrees or rotation are needed.
Photo in need of alignment

In the sample image above, the subjects appear to be walking up a slight hill, but our objective is to have them on level ground. Beginning with CS5, the PhotoShop tools got a whole lot smarter and you can now Straighten a photo with the click of a button. The Crop tool itself will allow you to manually rotate the image, just by clicking slightly outside the crop area and pulling the image in whatever direction you desire. To have PhotoShop straighten your photo exactly, just click the “Straighten” button in the Toolbar at the top. This accesses your Ruler tool to draw a line on your image that you want to use to make your image plumb. The new tools make what use to be a more difficult task very intuitive and easy.
The “old” way of doing this was to get the Ruler tool (its hidden away on the fly-out menu of the Eyedropper tool). Find a line or edge in your image that you want to be perfectly horizontal.  Click and drag out a line with the ruler tool that you want to be exactly 90° perpendicular to vertical. Choose Image – Rotate – Arbitrary. The exact amount of rotation needed (to the 100th of a degree!) will be entered into the “Arbitrary” amount box. Just hit enter and your image will rotate clockwise or counterclockwise as needed according to the line you drew.

Using the Ruler Tool in PhotoSHop
Find the “horizon” or edge you want to be perfectly horizontal in your image and drag the ruler tool across it.
Rotate Image in PhotoShop
Image – Rotate Image – Arbitrary
Rotate Image in PhotoShop
The exact amount needed is automatically filled in the Rotation Amount
Straightened Image before recropping
Image aligned with drawn line, before recropping.

Finished photo after alignment

After aligning, you will need to recrop the image to make it square again. But the girl walking her dog is now on level ground. If your image was a scan of a document or printed photograph, aligning with the edge of the original will bring the image plumb again.

Thanks to CS5 and beyond, you may never need this again!





Strive to buy your print locally! A community printer will understand communication and design, with a special emphasis on your local market. They should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!


Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.