Wouldn’t it be great if you had a device that would create martinis for you, each one a suitable replica of the previous, without your having to painstakingly mix each of them separately? Well, when it comes to virtual cocktails—or really anything else of value and deliciousness—you can leverage Photoshop’s ability to duplicate, scale, and reposition a layer with the Free Transform command and the judicious application of some modifier keys. And then, amazingly, you can ask Photoshop to do it all over again.
See, a while back, I was creating a graphic for my weekly Martini Hour podcast (using a martini glass image from Gunnar3000 of the Fotolia image library, shown below), and really appreciating this terrific, if largely undocumented, shortcut that allows you to repeat a transformation—including duplicating, scaling and repositioning a layer—without having to tediously reenter values, mouse around your image, or remember how you lined things up the first time.
Here’s how I turned this single refreshing beverage into three, each spaced equidistantly and scaled appropriately, efficiently, and somewhat miraculously.
To start things off, I wanted to simultaneously scale and duplicate the martini glass. One particularly useful approach is to move, duplicate, and scale the copy at the same time. Here are the basic steps:
- Select the layer you want to duplicate in the Layers panel.
- Hold down the Alt (or Option) key and choose Edit > Free Transform. The Free Transform command allows you to scale, rotate, and otherwise modify your layer, and adding the Alt (or Option) key creates a duplicate in the process. You can’t see the copy right away; you have to complete the transform operation first. Trust me, it’s there.
- In the options bar, change the W value to your desired percentage and click the chain link icon next to the W value to keep the scale proportional.
- In the Layers panel, note that you’ve created a layer called [your layer name here] Copy.
- If you want to view the old and new layers in reference to one another, I recommend that you change the blend mode. Because the background of this image is white, Multiply turned out to be the best setting.
- Drag the copy to its new position.
- PressEnter (or Return) to accept the transformation. My results are shown below with an arrow to let you relive the process.
Note: In Photoshop files, the boundaries of any individual layer are not necessarily the boundaries of the visible document. When the contents of a layer extend beyond the visible area, the phenomenon is known as big layer. This means that, although I cut off the bottom of the glass and stem in the first martini glass, that invisible part of the image was still there to be duplicated in the next layer.
Next, I did a little Layers panel housekeeping. The layer name “Glass 1 Copy” is a little confusing, and it was only going to get more so when I created a third glass. So I double-clicked the Glass 1 Copy layer name and changed it to something understandable. “Glass 2” made sense to me. Also, I moved the copy so that it lived under the original martini glass layer. This made the most sense to me in terms of understanding the image. I’m all about making sense to myself, even if others find me unnecessarily fastidious. Of course, I had to change the blend mode of the layer that was now on top (Glass 1, the original martini glass) to Multiply as well in order to see both layers.
Here’s the coolest part: All good things come in threes, I’m told, and Photoshop seems to agree. In order to create a third cocktail, rather than repeat the entire duplicate, scale, and move operation, Photoshop gives you a fairly amazing option for repeating a transformation. I selected the newly created duplicate layer to select it. Then holding down the Alt (or Option) key, I chose Edit > Transform > Again.
Then there was nothing left to do but sit back and be dazzled as Photoshop repeated the duplication, scaling, and positioning proportionately. It’s the positioning that seems particularly magical! The blend mode was automatically set correctly as well. I renamed my third glass appropriately and moved it to the lowest of the glass layers, because I’m fastidious (and/or obsessed) that way. You can see my miraculous resuts below.
Finally, I wanted to flavor my martinis with a variety of colors. Armed with the traditional bartender’s tools of a lasso tool (to designate the areas) and the Fill command (to set the colors), I added a new layer on top with color blocks that lined up respectively with each glass, as you can see below.
I set the blend mode of my colors layer to the not-so-cryptic setting of Color, which gave each of the martini glasses its own distinctive vibrant hue (and imaginary flavor), as you can see below.
The result is a nicely colorized set of repeating martinis, created easily and without fuss thanks to the power of the Free Transform command and some convenient use of the good old modifier keys. Salut to the third power!