Shift Into Gear!

Week of March 10, 2008

By Linda Sattgast

Tutorial for Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

The Shift key is a scrapbooker's friend. Here are some of the things it can do (besides create a capital letter):

  • When using the Move tool, it can keep you going in a straight line. Click with the mouse, press Shift, and drag left, right, up, or down (choose one). The Shift key will keep the movement straight.

  • When using the Brush tool, it can keep your brush stroke going in a straight line. Click with the mouse, press Shift, and drag left, right, up, or down (choose one). The Shift key lets you draw a straight line.

photo 1

  • To draw a straight line using any tool that has a brush, click once and Shift click somewhere else.
photo 2
  • In Photoshop, when you use the Transform tool (Windows: Ctrl T; Mac: Cmd T) you must press Shift and click and drag from a corner handle if you want to maintain the original proportions.

    (In Photoshop Elements do NOT use the Shift key. Just click and drag from a corner handle to maintain original proportions.)

  • In either Photoshop or Elements, you must add the Shift key when you click and drag out Custom Shapes if you want to maintain the original proportions.

photo 4

  • When resizing Type, use the Shift key to maintain original proportions. Activate the type by clicking on the type once with the Type tool. Press Ctrl (Mac: Cmd) to get a Transform outline. Click on a corner handle, press Shift to maintain the original proportions and drag in or out to resize the type.

  • Use Shift plus the plus or minus key to change Blend Modes in the Layers palette. Press Shift Plus to go to the next Blend Mode in the list and Shift Minus to go to the previous Blend Mode in the list.

  • Add the Shift key to the Fill With Color keyboard shortcut command to fill just the pixels on a layer with color, so press Alt Shift Backspace (Mac: Opt Shift Delete) to fill just the pixels with the Foreground color and Ctrl Shift Backspace (Mac: Cmd Shift Delete) to fill just the pixels with the Background color.

  • Press Shift Right Bracket Key to make your brush have a harder edge. Press Shift Left Bracket Key to make your brush have a softer edge.

photo 5

  • Access the Fill Dialog Box by pressing Shift Backspace (Mac: Shift Delete).

  • If you press Shift when dragging any kind of outline (crop, Marquee, Rectangle & Ellipse) you'll get a perfect circle or square depending on the tool you're using.


Here's an interesting one:
If you use the Move tool to drag and drop an item from one document onto another, press Shift as you let go of the mouse to make it land in the center of the destination document...

phhoto 6


BUT...If you drag and drop the same item from one document to another, and the two documents are exactly the same size, pressing Shift will make it land in the same position on the new document as it was on the original one.

photo 7


Pretty shifty!

There are more uses for the Shift Key (they keep popping into my head!), but I hope this list is enough to get you started appreciating the unassuming Shift Key.


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