Several methods can be used to stretch an image in Photoshop. Stretching resizes the image, but stretching is different from just scaling because you change the look of the image, not just its size.
Keep in mind that a stretched image can still be beautiful, especially if it’s a simple pattern, shape, or image with a lot of white space, but it may not be as sharp as it was before it lost pixels. Therefore, you should not stretch faces, animals, buildings, or landscapes that are crowded, as stretching affects the appearance and quality of these images.
For this reason, a little stretching won’t affect these types of images. In this article, we won’t only show you some methods to stretch an image in Photoshop or layers, but also a useful tip if you need to stretch an image to fit the canvas.
Stretch an image or layer in Photoshop
To stretch an image or layer in Photoshop, first, select the Move tool on the toolbar or press V and click the desired layer in the layers panel.
Then click on one of the anchor points around your layer while holding down the Shift key. If you resize it then, it stretches in the direction you drag.
This method is one of the basic methods of stretching layers in Photoshop. Sometimes it causes problems, especially if the screen size does not match the new image size. Instead of this, the methods shown below are easier methods to stretch your images.
Method 1: Increase the width or height using the image size
If you want to stretch an image, keep in mind that if your screen isn’t large enough, your image will be cropped if you stretch it beyond the screen’s boundaries. You can solve this problem easily by increasing the canvas size with the image size, which increases automatically when you stretch with the Image Size tool.
To achieve this, open the image you need to stretch and navigate to Image then click Image size.
In the window that pops up, first click the Link icon on the left to make sure it’s not active, as this will automatically resize the width to match the height value and vice versa – resizing the image rather than simply stretching it.
Next is to select Percentage from the drop-down menu next to Width and Height. Enter the value in the box whose width or height you want to increase, for example, 150%. This means the height of the canvas will be 50% greater than the width when the stretch is applied.
Remember that you must use a value greater than 100% to add to the image; using a value less than 100 will distort the image.
Then click OK and you will see the image stretched by the percentage set.
The image is visibly stretched, and because the Image Size dialog box adjusts the canvas size to fit the image, there is no cropping. You may want to undo your work so as to try a new percentage, go to Edit -> Undo or press (CTRL + Z or CMD + Z) on your keyboard keep repeating the process until you are happy with the stretched effect.
Method 2: Use the Transform Tool with the Warp Setting
The transform tool has several different uses, from scaling your image to rotating it, to distorting it in different ways. Using the Transform tool with the Distort setting allows you to stretch the image in any direction, distorting its appearance.
Do this by opening a new document. In the New Document window, make sure to set the canvas size much larger than the intended image; otherwise, the image will be cropped if you stretch it outside the screen. Feel free to play around with the size that best makes your image best.
You can now add your photo to the canvas by dragging and dropping the image from your computer to Photoshop. It’s going to add the image as a new layer, which will oppose the background layer. It is crucial that the image exists as a separate layer from the background, as the Transform tool cannot be used on a background layer; since it is locked. However, you can unlock the background layer, it’s easier to add your image to an existing project by dragging and dropping.
Ensure your image has been imported into the layers panel.
Then click the Move Tool (V).
Now go to Edit then Transform then Distort.
Then click and drag one of the anchor points on the transform box to stretch that part of the image. Distortion settings allow you to stretch the image vertically, horizontally, or diagonally anyhow you want it.
Another quick way to stretch an image using the same tool is to go to Edit -> Free Transform or use keyboard shortcuts keys (Control + T (PC) or Command + T (Mac)). When the transform tool is active, you can right-click on the layer and choose Distort from the menu that appears.
The only difference between Free transform and Distort is the moving of the corner anchor point. Free Transform moves the sides and corners of the image with what you click and drag. Meanwhile, the Distort setting keeps all sides in place and just stretches the image based on the angle you stretch.
However, hold down Alt (PC) or Option (Mac) and drag one of the anchor points to warp the other side evenly.
Keep in mind that the transform works only when the Move tool is active. So always make sure you have the Move Tool (V) selected!
Option 3: Stretch an image with content-aware scaling
Content-Aware Scaling stretches an image to fit within an aspect ratio you specify, but some areas of the image may be distorted by the stretching process.
Before you begin, your layer should not be a Smart Object. If so, you cannot use Content-Aware Scale as it will be grayed out. Fortunately, you can fix this by right-clicking on the smart object and selecting Rasterize Layer.
Once rasterized, use the Crop Tool (C) to stretch the canvas to the amount you want the image to be stretched. You can extend one side at a time or hold down the Alt/Option to extend both sides of the screen at the same time. Since I want to make this portrait horizontal, I stretched the canvas in that direction.
Now it’s time to use Content-Aware Scale, which means you need to select the Move tool first.
Then go to Edit > Content-Aware Scale.
In the top configuration bar, you can enter the new width and height of the image or simply use the anchor to stretch your image to fill the transparent areas of the screen.
Note that even though we stretched the background, the person in the middle doesn’t look stretched. This makes Content-Aware Scale an excellent choice for stretching images but preserving some of the information. Content-aware scaling has many benefits for stretching images without distorting the subject. I explain more about this technique and its drawbacks in this tutorial on elaborate backgrounds in Photoshop.
Related: How to rasterize in Photoshop
Conclusion: How to stretch an image in Photoshop
Stretching an image doesn’t have to be difficult, nor does it have to distort the entire image and lead to poor quality. These methods allow you to stretch objects in Photoshop while retaining the most quality and still get the effect you want. If this helps, see you next time! Please try to support vdtips by sharing this post thanks.