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Photoshop Tutorial: How do I maintain proportion and scale when I resize my images?

Have you ever been surfing the web and seen a photo like this?

There are two ways to make sure that no matter what size you make sweet little Picasso, that you keep his proportions locked so he still looks human when you’re done.

The first one is easy, and obvious. But you’d be surprised how many people don’t know this. So if you’re one of those, you’re not alone. Trust me.

Go to your Photoshop top menu – it should be at the top of your screen.
Click Image> Image size.

How to resize an image in Photoshop. Image> Image Size

(click to view full-sized image)

A dialog box will pop up with your photo’s size. Make sure the bottom three boxes are checked. They say “Scale Styles”, “Constrain Proportions”, and “Resample Image.” Now, when you change the width or height dimensions, the other will automatically change for you. Type in the width or height you want. Click OK. See? No math. Isn’t that nice of Photoshop to do the math for you?

Photoshop tutorial: how to resize images

So, that’s fine for resizing photos if you need to resize the whole canvas. But what if you needed to resize just one layer or resize the image on the canvas, but not the canvas itself? How do you resize just one layer in Photoshop? I use this all the time in blog design!

You need the transform tool. File> Free transform. Or more simply command-t on your Mac (on PC, ctrl-t). You’ll need to make sure you have a layer highlighted in your layers palette. Keep in mind, that in most photo files, the background is locked and you’ll need to make a new layer to transform a photo.

When you succeed, a frame will pop up around your layer item – in this case the photo.

With the layer highlighted in the layers palette (bottom right), click command-t or control-t.

Now here’s the important part! If you gain nothing from this tutorial, gain this. Before you start dragging those points to resize you must lock proportions. Once you click command-t / ctrl-t this will appear in your menu. Click it.

How to lock proportions / keep scale in Photoshop.

Now you can drag from any corner and the photo will keep the same proportions and scale correctly. Note, if you drag from one of the side points, instead of the corner points, the lock button will uncheck itself. If this happens, recheck it and it will snap back into proportion. When you’ve got the image to the size you want it, hit enter / return. Voilà!

Go ahead. Try it!

And in the end, you can make sure your favorite photos always look right, no matter what size you make it.

Go forth and Photoshop!


  1. love photoshop tutorials!
    .-= melissa stover´s last blog ..Our Financial Journey ~ The baby carriage =-.

  2. Miss Darcy – You Rock!
    Thank you for the step by step pictures!
    I’m a visual learner! 😉

  3. You’re a diva! If I fly to your house, will you give me a private lesson on PS? I would be so in love with you!!!
    p.s. after Drake gets out of the hospital, we (MJ & me) will be getting contact about that conference call! Life upside down still… thanks for all the concerns about Drake, we are working on the mend still, but slow and steady is his motto!!!

  4. Oh, Darcy, you’re such a good teacher. Maybe you should consider homeschooling. 🙂
    .-= Richella´s last blog ..Updating an old project =-.

  5. Another method for the PC is to have the Move Tool selected (shortcut V on the PC), pick a layer, then drag a corner. To maintain the correct ratio, hold down the Shift key.

  6. Hi! I stumbled on your blog a while back looking for other homeschooling moms. I love all of the photo advice you give, but I have a question for you. I don’t have photoshop and buying it just isn’t in the budget right now. Are there any free photo editing programs available that you would recommend? Thanks!
    .-= Jessica Mauk´s last blog ..The best part of homeschooling???? =-.

    • Hi Jessica!

      Thanks for stopping by. You might like Picnik which is nothing like Photoshop, but has great edit options for those with no PHotoshop skills. One click edits. Alternatively – GIMP is free and downloadable and has a layers palette like Photoshop. It’s got a bit more of a learning curve, but more control over the end result.

      Good luck!

  7. Thank you, Obi Wan. Actually, you’re more like Yoda. Teach me, Yoda. Show me the ways of the force {You can insert Photoshop here, thank you.}

    My apologies for this Star Wars saturated comment. Apparently, my boys are rubbing off on me.

    Send help.
    .-= Ruthanne´s last blog ..I Heart Faces {Week 8} =-.

  8. OMG, i need this advice so much!

    thank you!

    you are a genius!! i am so glad to follow your blog!
    .-= shraddha´s last blog ..Sick once again in midst of joyous festivals =-.

  9. I wish you would give a crash course to my child’s high school yearbook sponsor! The kids don’t have a clue and every year we pay for expensive yearbooks with stretched photos. 🙁 Thanks for sharing your tutorial for everyone that needs it!

    • I see this in yearbooks, too, and I gasp at how unprofessional looking it is! I’m surprised it’s acceptable to go to print.

  10. Thanks so much!!!

  11. Thanks for sharing step by step tutorial on your post. I will try it on my design.

  12. Jessica DesLongchamp says:


  13. I love this step by step tutorial, I really appreciate it. so easy

  14. Great tutorial! It helped me alot!!

  15. Two Words: Smart Object… Its a much easier way to do this… open photo, make duplicate layer, right click on layer, click on convert to smart object, right click on photo click free transform.

    Once you convert something to a smart object it maintains its proportions. Its made especially for this purpose.

    just another approach. Thanks for sharing your discovery too.

  16. Bisconer19152 says:

    Hello there just stumbled upon your blog via Yahoo after I entered in, “Photoshop Tutorial: How do I maintain proportion and scale when I resize my images?” or something similar (can’t quite remember exactly). In any case, I’m pleased I found it because your subject material is exactly what I’m looking for (writing a college paper) and I hope you don’t mind if I collect some information from here and I will of course credit you as the source. Thank you so much.

  17. Thank you!!! I almost walked out today to print off a Wonky for a client so glad I goggled and your tutorial came up you r awesome 🙂

  18. thanks, so simple! always overlook the simple things! Saved me a lot of work!

  19. Thank you so much for this! 🙂

  20. furniture manila says:

    Yay! I learn something new today! Nice tutorial you have here! Thanks! Now I don’t need to guess if my image is proportion or not. Haha. Two thumbs up for you and for your blog!

  21. Thank you for this tip, so easy and so critical!

  22. thanks

    But in jpeg format it takes white background . In proffessional work that’s a kind of problem


    • I never mention saving in any specific format. You’re welcome to save as whatever format works best for your project. :)I do this all the time and never have white backgrounds. YMMV.

  23. LORRAINE says:

    Simple, effective and easy to follow!!! Great results!!! Thanks


  1. […] Photoshop Tutorial: How do I maintain proportion and scale when I resize my images? via Life with My Three Boybarians. My friend Darcy is a whiz with Photoshop and she’s extra awesome because she shares her knowledge. Now that you’re taking awesome pictures with your camera (see link above), Darcy will show you how to make sure you aren’t making them wonky on your blog. […]