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Measure tool - use it to make an image level

Rotation with precision leveling


To locate the Measure Tool to use in leveling a picture, click and hold the Eyedropper icon. The Measure Tool will pop out.
To locate the Measure Tool to use in leveling a picture, click and hold the Eyedropper icon. The Measure Tool will pop out.

A GREAT TIP FOR ACCURATELY LEVELING A DIGITAL IMAGE

Viewer Robert Laracuente wrote to tell us his favorite means of getting an image exactly level. He uses Adobe PhotoShop's Measure tool.

The Measure tool provides a fast, convenient and precise way to level a digital picture. If you want to be absolutely sure that your image is level or that a vertical line in it is perpendicular, this is the tool to use.

When you look at your Tool Box, you won't see it. It is concealed beneath the Eyedropper tool icon. But, click and hold this icon, and a selection box will pop out. The bottom icon in the selection looks like a short ruler. This is the Measure tool.


HERE'S HOW TO USE THE MEASURE TOOL TO MAKE YOUR PICTURE LEVEL

Click on the Measure tool icon to select it. Place the cursor (which looks like a plus sign) on the horizontal or vertical line that you feel should be level or perpendicular. In the example images shown above and below, that line is the horizon.

You may be working on an image that doesn't contain a horizon line or any other horizontal line to be used in leveling the picture. In such an instance, you can use the Measure tool to straighten a vertical line - one that would normally be perpendicular to the horizon, such as a straight tree, a flagpole or building edge.

Click on the small ruler icon to use the Measure tool.
Click on the small ruler icon to use the Measure tool.

Place the measure tool's cross-hair or
Place the measure tool's cross-hair or "plus sign" cursor on the horizon and drag the cursor precisely along the angled horizon line.

Be sure to place the cursor at one end of the horizon line (or another straight line in the image that needs leveling).

Then click and drag it the full length of the line, taking care to lay the Measure tool's line exactly on top of the horizon so that the Measure tool's line and the horizon line are absolutely parallel.

You can drag the line outside the image if you wish.

You will note that the starting point of the Measure tool line is anchored and unmoving, but you can move the line up and down (or sideways if your line is vertical), permitting you to carefully align it.


WHAT HAPPENS IF I MAKE A MISTAKE AND IT DOESN'T LOOK LEVEL?

If you make a mistake and the Measure tool's line is not parallel with the horizon, no problem. Simply start over by placing your cursor once again on the horizon, then clicking and dragging it until you are satisfied that the line of the tool and the horizon are precisely parallel.

You can do this as many times as you wish until you are sure that the line has been properly placed.

When you are satisfied that the Measure tool line is on top of the horizon line, release the mouse button. Use the mouse to select "Image > Rotate Canvas > Arbitrary..."

With the Measure tool's line directly on the horizon line, click on Image > Rotate Canvas > Arbitrary.
With the Measure tool's line directly on the horizon line, click on Image > Rotate Canvas > Arbitrary.

The Rotate Canvas dialog box  shows the precise angle that the image will be rotated to make it level.
The Rotate Canvas dialog box shows the precise angle that the image will be rotated to make it level.

Alternately, using the keyboard only, you can press "Alt+i, e, a and achieve the same result.

A small "Rotate Canvas" dialog box, like the one shown on the left, will appear on the monitor, showing exactly how much the canvas will be rotated, and in which direction, clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Click "OK" and the picture will rotate so that the line plotted by the Measure tool line is level (or perpendicular in the case of a vertical line).


NOW THAT THE HORIZON IS LEVEL, THE PICTURE IS TILTED

The whole image has become tilted, but the horizon is indeed level. Now you must make the image look normal again, that is, not tilted. Use the Crop tool to square off the image's edges and to arrange the picture elements in an appropriate composition, as shown in the example pictures on the right.

THE MEASURE TOOL IS QUICK AND EASY TO USE

Once you have begun to use the Measure tool for straightening your images, you will probably find yourself going back to it again and again. We thank Robert Laracuente for providing us with this helpful tip.

WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE ADOBE PHOTOSHOP?

Different image-editing programs may offer a similar tool to the PhotoShop Measure tool. For instance, Adobe PhotoShop Elements has a tool called the Straighten tool, which performs in a somewhat similar manner. Except it is used only for horizontal leveling, and it does so in one quick step, rotating the picture as soon as you have finished dragging the Straighten tool's line. Just about all image-editing software applications have crop and rotate capabilities, even if they don't have a precision leveling device like the PhotoShop Measure tool.

Once the image has been rotated so its horizon is level, use the Crop tool to give the image perpendicular edges.
Once the image has been rotated so its horizon is level, use the Crop tool to give the image perpendicular edges.
Related topics...

Correcting perspective with the crop tool