Repeatedly copy and transform a selection in Photoshop

17 February 2011

Sometimes you want to copy a certain selection multiple times. For example you want to make a clock and having a hard time to copy the dashes every 30 degrees. It's anoying to keep repeating the same action over and over again, hoping the dashes align. There is a trick for this.

Step 1
Make a new file of 300 x 300 pixels (this is just for this tutorial, the actual dimensions doesn't mater).

Step 2
Make a crikle with the "elipse tool" and place this somewhere in the middle, on the top of your page.

St3p 3
Press CTRL+ALT+T te start the transform and copy action. After this, you move the pivot point of the little cirkle to the middle of the page. Sometimes this is very difficult to click the pivot point (mostely if your shape is very small), so you can press ALT and click&drag the pivot point to the center of the page. To assure the movement is exactly right, you can press SHIFT after you started dragging to drag along an axis (X or Y).

Step 4
Release the buttons on your keyboard and return your mousecursor to the cirkle. If you move the cursor over the shape, you'll see the cursor change. At the corners of the shape's bounding box you'll see the cursor change in a "rotate" cursor. This means that if you click, you can rotate the shape. And since you've moved the pivotpoint, the shape will rotate around this moved pivotpoint.

To assure you're rotating 30 degrees (a circkle is 360 degrees, devided by 12 hours is 30 degrees) you can enter the rotating value in the toolbar:

Step 5
Click in the toolbar on the "commit transform" button or press ENTER (the right one! the left won't work!) to commit the transformation. If everything is ok, you'll get this result:

Step 6
After this, you'll press CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+T as many as you want, to apply the transformation multiple times. By doing this your shape is copied and rotated multple times. When you're finished, you should get something like this:
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  1. Gravatar


    26 November 2015

    Its nice

  2. Gravatar

    Sheraz Khan

    06 July 2014

    Thank you so was very helpful and saved me a lot of time

  3. Gravatar


    11 December 2013

    Very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Gravatar


    22 May 2013

    @ Carine : same can be done using translation, just move the item instead of rotating :)

  5. Gravatar


    21 May 2013

    really helpull

    would you have a tip to do the same with a translation instead of rotation ? thx

  6. Gravatar


    01 February 2013

    Just wanted to say thanks for a really helpful technique. Also, your form field CSS is awesome.

  7. Gravatar


    02 April 2012

    I was searching for this tool of Photoshop for a long time. thanks for sharing this tutorial

  8. Gravatar


    19 July 2008

    what is matte Painting

  9. Gravatar


    27 June 2008

    great tut!