Related to Combining rotation and straightening of images.

  • Rotate: Grab a corner, drag it to its new location, rest of image follows.
  • Straighten: Either click-drag-drop a line on a horizon, or click on to points on the horizon. This also works in the vertical. Program detects what is closest.

DA01's comments got me thinking: Do we really need the rotate tool in imageeditors? What if i set it up like this:

GUI-mockup with callouts on various points. Rotation tool

1: Radiobuttons. Choose which "main" orientation. (Got the idea from aviary.com)

2: The viewing area of the image.

A & B: "Horizonpoints" one can either click-drag-drop a line between, or click on both to make a horizon.

Thoughts? Does the rotation tool still have to work like it usually does?

Are there real life situations where one would want to rotate an image without aligning part of it to either a horizontal or vertical line?

  • Sure, users are used to the rotationmethod, but hey: Progress! (:
    – Jonta
    Commented Jul 4, 2011 at 17:08
  • I, for one, would be confused if I had to draw a vertical line to turn an image on its side. It's often good to provide multiple ways to do the same thing, because users think about similar problems through different lenses. Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 13:06

2 Answers 2


Are there real life situations where one would want to rotate an image without aligning part of it to either a horizontal or vertical line?

Yes, I think so (but how often will depend on your application). If I can choose, I only use the straighten tool in those situation where the image itself already includes true horizontal or true vertical lines (such as water levels or walls). In most other situations drawing a line across the image not only feels awkward, but also distracts from looking at the whole picture.

Consider the way Lightroom handles it, they have found a combination that works quite well (however, they also offer a separate straighten tool):

screenshot of lightroom rotate

The bright part with the grid shows the result of the operation. The grid's main function is to aid in finding a good composition, but the horizontal and vertical lines also serve as an alternative to 'straighten'. The darker parts are the parts of the original image that will be lost. Clicking inside the light part is for dragging, outside is for rotation. What's different from other rotation methods is that in this case you're manipulating the old image behind a fixed frame, instead of drawing a frame over an image.


You're right in that images are often (but far from always) aligned to either the horizontal or the vertical axis. But layers are just as often aligned at an angle, if I'm trying to create a parallel or a perpendicular line to an existing diagonal line. And even with images, you get plenty of diagonally-aligned images as well. You could achieve the same effect with straightening, but you could also achieve the straightening effect with standard rotation just as well.

  • The application in question will not have support for layers. Do you have a concrete example of when you would want an image aligned at an angle? I can only think of "crazy shots", and one should think it wouldn't matter so much there. And anyway; it's a pretty basic application.
    – Jonta
    Commented Jul 4, 2011 at 22:01
  • Whenever you want to achieve the effect of a bunch of images "scattered" around the webpage and you don't want it to look like a grid - some of them will be diagonal. The actual image file is of course still rectangular and has transparency to complete the blanks left by the skewed image within the rectangle, but the image is at an angle. Here you can see something similar, though it's not the "scattered" example I was talking about. Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 3:24
  • Also, if it's a basic app, I'd go for the self-explanatory and basic tools, i.e. Rotate over Straighten. Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 3:26
  • Thanks. I think I might just go YAGNI on this one, and leave out rotation from the start, to possibly be included later. Perhaps Some user testing with regards to this first.
    – Jonta
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 8:57

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