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(Last updated on January 9th, 2023)

Flipping layers in Photoshop is an essential function to know. It’s useful for quickly making changes when a portrait is a landscape, or a face is looking in the wrong direction. In this post, we’ll review a few methods to flip Photoshop images and offer helpful tips and tricks.

skateboarder flipping 1
Flip your images just like this skateboarder.

What is Layer Flipping in Photoshop?

Photoshop stores everything in layers, including photos, graphics, and text. The layers can be used for more than just determining what picture goes on top. They can be altered for color, retooled with overlays, and made transparent with opacity controls.

Another handy function of layers is keeping track of how your images are edited. Flipping photos or graphics can be accomplished with layers and transformation tools. Let’s go over a few ways to accomplish layer flipping.

Photoshop photo of girl
Let’s flip this image of a girl with skates in Photoshop.

How To Flip an Image in Photoshop With The Entire Canvas

If you open a photo in Photoshop, it should take up the entire canvas area. This means there should be no transparency behind your picture as it covers the whole space. Flipping the full image is an easy task.

Photoshop photo of girl canvas flip option 1
Here is where you’ll find the option for flipping the entire canvas.

Once you open up an image in Photoshop, navigate to Image > Image Rotation > Flip Canvas Horizontal/Flip Canvas Vertical. Choosing one of these options will instantly flip the canvas horizontally or vertically. For this example of this girl with skates, we’ll flip her horizontally.

Photoshop photo of girl canvas flipped
This is what the image looks like with a flipped canvas.

That’s all you need to do. The photo is flipped and can be saved in its flipped form. It’s that simple for those who need a photo flipped fast.

If you have more than one image layer in Photoshop, you may want to have only some of the canvas flipped. You may want to flip one image and keep the rest in their current direction. To do this, you’ll have to flip the layer, not the canvas, which we will cover next.

Read more:

How to Outline Text in Photoshop
How to Resize Images in Photoshop
How to Curve Text in Photoshop

How To Flip Photoshop Layers Without The Canvas

Let’s say you want to flip an image as part of a more significant photoshop project.

  1. Open Photoshop and bring in an image that can be separated into a layer. Make sure the layer isn’t locked so we can use the transformation options. Have a foreground and background layer to understand better how this process is helpful. Find the Layers panel in Photoshop to adjust the foreground layer.
Photoshop photo of girl on new layer
This image is now placed on an unlocked layer reading for transformation edits.
  1. With your foreground layer selected, navigate to Edit > Transform. When you hover over Transform, you should be presented with numerous choices for how you want to edit your layer. The options should include Free Transform, Rotate, Flip Horizontal, and Flip Vertical. If we want this image to be flipped, facing a different horizontal direction, we’ll select Flip Horizontal.
Photoshop photo of girl on new layer flip option
Here is where you’ll find the options to flip the layer.
  1. After clicking Flip Horizontal, you’ll notice the layer has now flipped the image.

The image layer is now flipped while the canvas remains the same size.

Photoshop photo of girl on new layer flipped 1 1
The image layer is now flipped while the canvas remains the same size.

Using the transform tools for layer flipping is better if you work with multiple layers. Flipping only the layer maintains the canvas area. This means you can still keep a landscape size while turning that photo right-side up or facing the other direction.

Other Layer Transform Options

The Transform menu in Photoshop gives you plenty of options to play with if you don’t just want to flip a layer. Here are the other transform options to consider besides flipping a layer.

  • Free Transform: If you want complete control of the layer you’re editing, the Free Transform tool gives you absolute freedom. Engaging the Free Transform option places a bounding box with anchor points around your photo or graphic layer. Clicking and dragging can change the image’s size and stretch it. Stretch it all the way across, and you can flip the image.
Photoshop photo of girl free transform 1
Here is what the image looks like with a free transform option enabled.
  • Rotate: If you want an image placed on its side, you can use the Rotate transform option. This allows you to rotate the image on its side. If you can also choose how much of the layer is rotated by selecting the direction at a 90-degree angle or choosing a 180-degree rotation. These options will rotate the image in one way automatically with no rotation tools required.
Photoshop photo of girl rotated 1
Here is what the image looks like when the layer is rotated.
  • Perspective: If you want to stretch your image at an angle, the perspective transform tool can make your photo look like it’s being viewed from the side. This can be handy if you’re creating designs for a billboard at an angle or a TV screen at an angle.
Photoshop photo of girl perspective 1
Here is what the image looks like when the layer has its perspective changed.
  • Scale: This is for changing the size of the image using anchor points, similar to the options in Free Transform.
Photoshop photo of girl scaled 1
Here is what the image looks like when it’s scaled.

Tips & Tricks

Photoshop photo of girl flip shortcut
Use this trick for quickly selecting the flip function in Photoshop.
  • Right-Click Transform: For a faster flipping method, you can use some keystrokes and clicks. First, enable Free Transform on your layer by pressing Ctrl+T. Then right-click on your layer area to bring up a pop-out menu. Select Flip Horizontal from the options, and your layer should be flipped.
  • Lock Your Layers: When working with multiple layers, it helps to keep things organized. To avoid flipping the wrong layer, try locking the layers you’re not currently working on to avoid mistakes.
  • Duplicate Layers: If you’re not sure whether to flip a layer or not, you may want to create a duplicate first. This way, you can switch between the flipped version and the original by simply hiding the layers.
  • Keep Reflections in Mind: Flipping an image in Photoshop will also flip text. Be aware of the conflicting reflections that may come when you flip an image. This is why it’s best to flip images that don’t have any distinct asymmetrical elements like text, driver seats, and faces with specific features on one side of the face.
  • Remember to Unlock: If you don’t unlock your layer with an image, you won’t be able to use the transformation options for flipping that layer. Images you open directly in Photoshop will automatically be locked. Duplicate that layer into a new one that won’t be locked.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I flip a layer in Photoshop without flipping the canvas?

Instead of doing a Flip Canvas, the layer should be edited with a transformation. With the layer selected, navigate to Edit > Transform and choose Flip Horizontal or Flip Vertical. This will flip only the layer and not the canvas.

What is the shortcut to flipping a layer in Photoshop?

You can quickly flip your layer if you enable Free Transform using Ctrl+T. Once that is enabled, right-click on your layer area on the canvas. This will bring up a menu where you can select Flip Horizontal.

How do you rotate a single layer in Photoshop?

With your single layer selected, navigate to the top menu to Edit > Transform > Rotate. Selecting this will rotate the layer. Alternatively, you can flip the entire image by navigating to Image > Image Rotation.

How do I mirror-flip an image in Photoshop?

With your single layer selected, navigate to the top menu to Edit > Transform > Rotate. Selecting this will rotate the layer. Alternatively, you can flip the entire image by navigating to Image > Image Rotation.

How do I mirror-flip an image in Photoshop?

Flipping an image in Photoshop is as simple as clicking an option. Navigate to Image > Image Rotation > Flip Canvas Horizontal/Flip Canvas Vertical. If you’d prefer not to flip the canvas and want to flip the image, navigate to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal/Flip Vertical.

Which command is used to flip an image?

There is no keyboard shortcut for flipping an image in Photoshop. That being said, there is a way to make it faster. Start by enabling Free Transform on your image using Ctrl+T. Then right-click on the image to bring up the transformation menu, which should include Flip Horizontal. Click it, and your image will be instantly flipped.

How do you flip a layer horizontally in Photoshop?

To flip a layer horizontally, select the layer and navigate to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. This will automatically flip your layer to face the opposite direction.

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