Topic may seem weird as the two terms seem to mean the same.


  • Rotation: The typical way of grabbing a corner and pulling in the direction you want the image to rotate.
  • Straightening: Drawing a straight line between two points where the horizon should be. Poor example at pixenate.


  • Ideas for how to combine the two into one and the same tool? A solution would be to use Rotation when cursor is close to the corners (Straighten otherwise. My worry is that users could be used to grabbing any part of the image for rotation. Especially as this would be a single dedicated tool. (Not combined with e.g. crop, or free transform)
    • Change the shape of the cursor in a very obvious way perhaps?
      • Thoughts on cursorshape for Straighten?

2 Answers 2


Use Shift for straightening, change cursor shape accordingly. A possible shape is a semicircle placed above the horizon (like a setting sun, though it's by any means not supposed to convey that idea).

  • Interesting idea. I researched different conventions regarding this, and it seems Ctrl is usually used for increments of rotation (of e.g. 15°), although I've seen Shift used as well.
    – Jonta
    Jun 26, 2011 at 18:57

Do they need to be the same tool? They really do the same thing (rotate the image) but for different reasons.

As for a cursor icon, how about a level?

  • Lightroom uses a level for straightening, and it's quite effective.
    – Marielle
    Jun 26, 2011 at 21:07
  • @DA01 - Not necessarily for different reasons. I think people might prefer one way of doing it over the other. Or am I missing something? I thought of a level as an icon as well. I'll have a look at how LR's looks (:
    – Jonta
    Jun 26, 2011 at 21:54
  • The straighten concept is typically for a very specific task...aligning/leveling some sort of horizon line. While rotation is usually just arbitrary rotation of an object. I don't know what kind of app you are building, but you may want to consider them as separate tools.
    – DA01
    Jun 26, 2011 at 23:06
  • @DA01 - Hm, the intention is for the straightener to straighten an image within 90°. Meaning that using it on an image like this (upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/aa/Perspectivephoto.jpg) on the vertical lines wouldn't rotate the image 90°, but only a few, to straighten the windows. Do you have examples of cases where one would want to rotate an image arbitrarily versus the (as you call it) specific task of straightening? (Perhaps I don't even need rotation at all. 90°-increments are provided for)
    – Jonta
    Jun 27, 2011 at 17:04
  • In terms of photo editing, 90% rotation is usually a command, rather than a tool. A rotation tool, to me, is one where you can grab any of the 4 corners and rotate the entire image around it's center to any degree you want to. Straighten, to me, is a way to rotate but offering some sort of help to get a particular line (usually the horizon) perfectly horizontal. The latter is usually needed when there is a literal horizon in your photo that is not aligned correctly. If your users need both all the time, then making it one tool maybe makes sense. But if they rarely use one, maybe access that
    – DA01
    Jun 27, 2011 at 18:37

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