How To Rotate or Flip an Image Layer in Affinity Photo

by Mar 23, 2023Photo Editing Tutorials

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

This page may contain affiliate links where I earn a small commission to help cover costs. They do not affect the price you pay or the service you receive.

Thank you for your support.

How To Rotate or Flip an Image Layer in Affinity Photo

Let’s start with the difference between flipping and rotating an image in Affinity Photo. In the following screenshot, you can see two images showing the effect of rotating an image through 180° and flipping it vertically.

Affinity Photo Trial

If you don’t have the latest version of Affinity Photo you can download a trial from the Affinity Photo website.

Flipping an image vertically compared to rotating it through 180 degrees

In this comparison, the image on the left has been rotated through 180°. Now compare this to the image on the right which was flipped vertically. As you can see, one is now a mirror image of the other rather than the two being identical.

Let’s look at how this was done in the Photo Persona and why it’s important to understand.

Rotating and Flipping an Image

The commands to Rotate and Flip an image are found in the “Document” menu of the Photo Persona.

With the image open click the “Document” menu. You can then choose from the “Rotate 90° Clockwise” or “Rotate 90° Anticlockwise” options. Using one of these commands twice is how the first image above was created.

The commands to flip the image are also found in the “Document” menu of the Photo Persona. This allows us to flip the document either horizontally or vertically. In the above example the image was flipped vertically. Had we flip the image horizontally, it would look like the comparison below.

Flipping an image horizontally

The original image is on the left whilst the flipped image is on the right. Notice how this has created a mirror image of the original. It’s this behaviour that often confuses the new user.

Only use the Flip options when you want to reverse the image to create a reflection.

Rotating Only One Layer in an Image

So far, our examples have only looked at flipping and rotating the image document. Doing this affects all the layers in the image. For example, if an image has three separate layers and you flip the document horizontally, all the layers in the image are also flipped horizontally. With adjustment layers this doesn’t matter, but with images and text it can have a big impact.

Sometimes you may just want to flip or rotate one of the layers in the image. Let’s look at how to do that.

To create an example to explain this I will first resize my image canvas so that it’s twice as wide as it was. If you don’t understand the difference between resizing the image and resizing the canvas, this tutorial will explain.

Having resized the canvas, I can then duplicate the image layer and move the copy next to the original. The two images the appear side by side (this is why I enlarged the canvas). To duplicate an image layer, right click on the layer in the Layers Studio Panel. You can then choose the Duplicate option from the pop-up menu. The following screenshot shows the duplicated layer being moved into position.

Placing a duplicate layer next to the original

The way to move the layer is with the Move Tool. This is usually the second tool from the top in the Tools Palette on the left of the interface. The icon shows a black arrow with a white outline. When selected, you can use the Move Tool to click and drag objects into a new position on the image canvas.

When you select a layer in the Layers Studio Panel using the Move Tool, you will see a blue box appear around the edge of the layer. You can then click and drag that object to a new position in the image.

The blue box also has a short handle at the top centre. When you position your mouse over this handle, you can click and drag to rotate the layer. You can see this in the following screenshot.

Rotating an individual layer

When we rotate the image this way, we are rotating the individual layer. Comparing this to the rotate commands in the Document menu, those would rotate both layers in the image as well as the document canvas. You can see the two methods compared below.

Rotating a layer vs rotating a document

Here the image on the left shows the effect of rotating one of the image layers. The image on the right is where the document, including all layers, was rotated clockwise by 90°.

Now let’s look at how to flip an individual layer.

Flipping Individual Layers in an Image

Having seen how to rotate an individual layer in an image, let’s look at how to flip one.

Earlier we saw that flipping horizontally or vertically using the Document command produces a mirror image. We also know that these commands affect all the image layers. So how do we flip just one of our layers?

The answer to this is by using the Move Tool again.

You already know that when we have a layer selected using the Move Tool, a blue box appears around it. If you look along the centre of each edge of this blue box, you’ll see a small white circle. This is a drag handle which you can click and drag to resize the layer. We can also use this to flip an individual layer.

Here’s a screenshot showing a layer being flipped using one of these drag handles on the edge.

Flipping a layer using the Move Tool in Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo Books for Photographers

Learn Affinity Photo with Essential Affinity Photo 2. Extend your Affinity Photo knowledge with Affinity Photo How To.

Learn more / sample...

Learn more / sample...

30-day satisfaction or your money back guarantee.

When I started to flip this layer, it was identical to, and positioned over the image layer on the left. I then clicked and dragged the handle on the left edge, dragging it over the right edge of the image. This is what flips the image layer horizontally. You then need to continue dragging the layer until it is the correct size.

To flip an image layer vertically you click the grab handle on the bottom edge and drag it over the one at the top.

This tutorial has looked at rotating and flipping images. But suppose all that you want to do is the level a sloping horizon. The tools we’ve looked at don’t really help you to do this. A better option is to use the Crop Tool as explained in this tutorial.

More Affinity Photo Tutorials

You’ll find more high quality, free tutorials on my Affinity Photo Tutorials page.

Book Offer


Get your copy of "6 Steps to Shooting Brilliant Landscape Photography"  by subscribing to Lenscraft in Focus, my free monthly newsletter.

Follow the advice in this deceptively simple book to significantly improve your landscape photography. Organised into 6 simple lessons, this valuable and detailed guide provides information that’s often overlooked. In fact, lesson 3 is so obvious that most photographers ignore it completely.

If you want to improve your Landscape Photography fast, follow this book.


How to Get Your Book

  • Enter your details using the form on the right. I will then send you an email to confirm you’ve entered your email correctly.
  • Follow the instruction in my confirmation email.
  • After that, I’ll send you a link to download your free book (PDF, ePub and Kindle formats. The email might also include discounts for my other courses and books so be sure to read it carefully.

My Promise to You: I will never share or SPAM your email.

6 Steps to Shooting Brilliant Landscape Photography Book Cover email

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Please Share This

Please share this post with fellow photographers!