Present in many graphics software and desktop publishing software programs, the shear tool is used for distorting images in a specific manner. It shifts a portion of an image in one direction (horizontal or vertical) while shifting the opposite portion of the image in the opposite direction. Basic shearing changes a square or rectangle into a parallelogram. Some programs may refer to this as skew. The shear tool is usually a part of a group of tools called the transform tools along with rotate, scale, flip, and others.
The shear tool icon is typically a square or rectangle representing an image that is slanted or skewed. Depending on the software, you may shear an image by selecting it with the shear tool then manually rotating and distorting it or by specifying a particular angle and direction of shear in a dialog box. Some programs have both options.
One use of the shear tool is to make an image appear to be lying flat or nearly flat on the page as if it were laying on a table. It's also a way to take a bunch of identical shapes and create an effect such as scattered confetti by shearing or skewing some shapes in a variety of directions. Shearing an image creates a 3D effect that is leaning toward or away from the viewer.
Although often used on images, the shear tool can be applied to blocks of text as well. Use it to create a special text effect for headlines or text illustrations. If your software doesn't have automatic shadow effects or you find them inadequate, use the shear tool to turn a copy of your text into a slanted and elongated cast shadow.
How to Use the Shear Tool
- Transformation Tools in Adobe InDesign - The Shear Tool
- Quick Tip: How to Use the Shear Tool in InDesign - Video
- GIMP Keyboard Shortcut Keys - including Shear
- Adobe Photoshop Basics - Transforming Selections