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A place for everything and everything in it’s place, said someone a long time before Photoshop was even thought of, but it applies as... How to Position Elements in Photoshop

A place for everything and everything in it’s place, said someone a long time before Photoshop was even thought of, but it applies as much now as it ever has. Placing elements correctly is essential for a polished final product. How many times have you noticed a misaligned element in an image and wondered how it was missed? Often it’s because the artist is working on the image in a zoomed out window and any misalignment was invisible at that resolution, or because they relied on a snap guide that was actually snapping itself to some completely different part of the image.


So good habits to get into are placing objects just right first time, especially if you are working with straight edges that should be matching up. Here is a short list of working practices to use.

One good habit to get into is to quickly zoom in once an object is in place, and check that at full resolution (or at least print resolution) you still give everything positioned correctly. Just get into the habit of zooming in, zooming out and checking as you go on, that way you won’t have any nasty surprises when you get your final version.

Be careful not to overzoom, don’t just keep zooming in past the actual resolution of your image, use the presets to go full resolution and no higher or you really are just wasting your time.

Once you have zoomed right in. If you do find your element is not quite in the right place, try using the nudge tool. Select your element, choose the arrow icon at the top of the top left menu bar and just press the arrow cursor keys. Each time you press a direction key, it will nudge your element in that direction by one pixel.

What if your elements do not touch and you are struggling to line them up correctly? You have two simple options, use the View, Gridlines option to show a grid over your image and use that to align elements, or rely on the automatic snap guidelines. The snap guidelines are great in 95% of cases, but do be cautious not to rely on them in every instance without then double checking your image is correct.

Once you are completely happy with your placement, and if you are not planning on fiddling around with it too much from that point, lock it in place by simply selecting the relevant layer and clicking the padlock icon. Now it’s going nowhere and you can have that warm cosy, secure feeling of knowing at least one thing in your image is exactly in it’s place.

[Image via Russ Payne]