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Jul 16

Transform Again on Shape Layers in Photoshop

2007 at 10.14 am posted by Veerle Pieters

Remember when I talked about the transform again feature in Illustrator? A reader told me about a nice tip he read on the Photoshop Killer Tips wbsite on how to create a Ray of Light Effect using Transform Again. You see, this feature also exists in Photoshop…

However, the difference is that you need to hold down command/control shift + T instead of command/control and if you want to duplicate the shape you need to hold down the alt/option key as well. The reason why this person e-mailed me was because he had a question about it. If you've watched Matt's movie, you'll see that all shapes sit in one and the same layer. Sometimes you need them all in separate layers because you want to give each of them a different color. Here is how you do this:

Create shape and duplicate

First you create a triangular shape. You can select a triangle from the Custom Shape palette and flip it upside down (Edit > Transform > Flip Vertically). Duplicate this shape layer using command/control + J. Now hit command/control + T (Edit > Free Transform) to rotate this shape. First move the middle point down to towards the center.

Create a ray of right in Photoshop - Create shape and duplicate

Duplicate and transform again

Now put your cursor outside the shape so you see the curved rotate cursor and rotate the shape as shown in the example below and press enter. Duplicate the layer again by pressing command/control + J and transform again by pressing command/control shift + T. Repeat this till you have a complete ray. Just press command/control + J followed by command/control shift + T.

Create a ray of right in Photoshop - Duplicate and transform again

Add color

Now you can give each Shape Layer a different color.

Create a ray of right in Photoshop - Add color

My end result

I decided not to use the different colors and ended up with a totally other result. I hope you don't mind I wasn't in a flashy mood :)

Create a ray of right in Photoshop

Want to learn more?

VECTORTUTS+ Vector Tutorials and More A good and not expensive source to learn more about Illustrator, Photoshop, or web design is by joining the Tuts+ sites. You get access to the source files for just $9 a month. So your ONE membership gives you access to members-only content for ALL the Plus sites. I've written a tutorial for the Vector Tuts section.




permalink this comment Tim Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 12.10 pm

Wow, been searching for something like this for a long long time :-) Thanks, Veerle all-mighty!



permalink this comment David G. Paul Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 12.38 pm

looks cool



permalink this comment Matthias Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 12.48 pm

I don’t know if someone already mentioned this but for Illustrator there is another slightly different way for “Transform again” effects in the Effect > Distort & Transform menu section named “Transform”.

By the way… another great and wonderful tutorial.



permalink this comment Mary Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 12.59 pm

thx u



permalink this comment Kristi Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 01.02 pm

Thanks for the tip.  Man!  I wish I could sit beside you at your desk and watch and learn.  This is a great tip.  I’m currently a GIMP and Photoshop Elements user and I am curious to see if I can pull it off in those.



permalink this comment Antoine Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 01.03 pm

Very nice one again !!

You can be sure i’ll try this for a future website :D



permalink this comment Nils Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 01.12 pm

When I watched the PS Killer Tips tutorial, I just knew I’d seen something like it before. Now of course, I remember where ;-)



permalink this comment Haree Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 01.12 pm

Thank you for the tip. You may find the same in Adobe Flash as well. It is in the Transform Palette, Bottom-Right, second from right. There’s a button to Copy and apply transform. I think Adobe may include the same button here also.



permalink this comment Shir Adivi Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 01.13 pm


I’d love to have this one as a wallpaper ... :) I’m a fan




permalink this comment Alex Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 02.43 pm

I like the butterfly flowers. They’re cute. ^^



permalink this comment Robert Hauk Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 03.10 pm

I used polar coordinates up to now but couldn’t change each triangle color of course. Now it works. THX for the tip.



permalink this comment Maj Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 03.46 pm

But do you have your original files, because I can´t seem to get the same effects qhen I apply the gradients to each form :(



permalink this comment jayhan Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 03.52 pm

Another cool tips, thanks. But it just need to create it manually.

What i do normally is create the ray in illustrator then import as smart object in photoshop :P.

Btw, the end result is nice! Cute elements :D



permalink this comment Gary Spedding Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 03.52 pm


Thanks for responding so promptly on this question. Some answers at the NAPP site were a bit too complicated but you have streamlined this so well (as usual). 

Try with other shapes and set the angle in the Options bar to 36 for ten exact circle repeats. Using guides helps setting that first one but here is the great thing - not only can you color the separate copies but, say you run butterflies,  each can now be transform rotated around istelf to provide a less symmetrical and, therfore, more interesting circle of shapes.  I think a lot of new logos will appear based on this simplified method.

Thanks again,




permalink this comment Lindsey Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 07.36 pm

Thanks for another great tutorial. I agree with the others above - this would be a fantastic wallpaper :) I just love your art.



permalink this comment 74designs Tue Jul 17, 2007 at 03.18 am

Once again, another great tutorial!  I always enjoy your Photoshop and Illustrator tutorials.

Thanks Veerle!



permalink this comment jGirlyGirl Tue Jul 17, 2007 at 07.32 am

I just have to tell you that I love your web site. It is beautiful. I really look forward to your posts in my RSS reader.  Thank you! :)

And I also agree, the end result would make an awesome wallpaper.



permalink this comment Christos Tue Jul 17, 2007 at 04.00 pm

I just recently found this site. And thank you so much for posting such valuable resources. I will be visiting this site more often.



permalink this comment katychan Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 11.01 pm

Always like your art. Just one question, do you use the mouse or a graphic pen for your creations?
Very helpful indeed the article.



permalink this comment Lucian Marin Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 11.11 pm

Interesting tutorial and the end result looks nice too.



permalink this comment Chris Coyier Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 01.30 am

I love using “Transform Again”, its hugely time-saving and helps with accuracy in a lot of situations.

Applying those nice colors like you did above would have been a cool use of the “blend colors” feature in Illustrator. But of course there are a million ways to do everything.



permalink this comment jackie Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 01.45 am

Yes, the blend tool in Illustrator can create some neat effects as well. But this is a nice demonstration of what you can do with Photoshop.  I created a sunset in light yellow to gold shades, and applied an artistic filter to the rays, which gave them an interesting look too. Then I turned it into a “sunset” by putting a circle in the center, and fading out the lower semi-circle of rays.



permalink this comment Gary Spedding Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 01.15 am

Following the last comment I decided to try and fill in successive colored rays.

1. Do first round as instructed but setting angle at 36 degrees.
2. Go to first object and Ctrl J to copy to new layer and set this a different color. Ctrl T (transform) and set centre point to same place as before (for first round of repeats)and set angle to 18 degrees.
Ctrl J and Shift/Ctrl T (twice) will get your next round of rays situated precisely between each successive first round pair.
3. Want to complete the canvas fill?  Repeat from step 2 but setting at 9 degrees.  Ctrl J and Shift Control T again twice gets you round the “circle” a third time completely now filling canvas with colored rays (or objects).

Neat, quick, simple and versatile.  Each ray is still on its own (color set layer) to play with as desired.



permalink this comment Konin Sun Jul 29, 2007 at 08.58 pm

This is a nice demonstration.Thanks for the tip , end result looks nice .



permalink this comment Pamela Wed Aug 8, 2007 at 05.21 am

Thanks for another great tutorial, Veerle.  However I have a question (maybe a suggestion for a future tutorial?) - how do you create the dotted lines in Photoshop (easily!) in that illustration?



permalink this comment Gary Spedding Wed Aug 8, 2007 at 12.31 pm

An extension to the above post.  Found a way to combine shapes in interesting ways.

Also you can run direct on just a background layer - see below - making easier than I originally wrote. Again may be over complicated but here is an idea for combining shapes in neat ways.

• New Document - fill with color or gradient.
• New Layer>Select a Shape (set as Paths) and draw out.
• Draw another shape within the area of the first.
• Select both path shapes.
• Hit exclude overlap areas Button in Options Bar and then hit Combine.
• Ctrl and Enter should make a selection of your two shapes (can add more shapes now or later and repeat the following steps).
• With both shapes selected can Ctrl J to own layer (have bkgrd layer selected in Layers panel - may need to turn background off to see the shapes) or fill with color or pattern as desired.
• Deselect.
• Apply effects to shapes as desired and change background.
If you magic wand select the interior portions and fill with a different patter or color (along with applied bevels, glows etc) you can creat an in-laid effect.

Just super stuff you can do with Photoshop- I am blown away every day. Hope this helps others see new things. Or provide food for thought and telling me easier ways.

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