Is it possible to move a control point in the distort tool without clicking and holding?
I need to zoom into the image while making the distortion but this means the control point is no longer visible, I'm wondering if it's possible to activate one of the control points, then move it with the arrow keys (or an alternative) once I've zoomed into the area I need to work on?
It sounds to me you are writing about vector tools in general. There is no distort tool I know of in Photoshop. There are features and tools that can be used to distort things in Photoshop. You can use the Direct Selection Tool(A) white arrow is the tools icon to select/target a control point then arrow keys can be used to nudge the control point's position.
JJ has told you how it can work with Shape layers, but I don't think there is any way of doing what you ask when transforming a pixel layer.
"I need to zoom into the image while making the distortion but this means the control point is no longer visible, "
I just zoomed in to maximum and control point is still visible. Do you want to say that you need to perform zoom while transforming and there isn't any alternative? I have never come to such situation and that is very interesting. Is there any specific reason you can not zoom then transform and repeat if necessary?
thanks for your time. I'll try to address each comment as it seems like my OP wasn't entirely clear.
JJ, it's not a vector graphic I'm distorting. I've probably used the wrong terminology, the distort tool I was referring to is the distort option, of free transform.
Bojan, I need to distort the entire image or layer, it's important that I don't create a localized distortion within the image, so I'm selecting the entire image and moving the anchor points at the edge. I'm using free transform (distort) to align areas of the image (sometimes when stitching, sometimes to correct perspectival distortions). If the image is very large and the area I'm trying to align or adjust is in the centre of the image, I can't see the anchor points anymore.
For most purposes I can see how this might seem unnecessary but when stitching, I sometimes find myself zoomed in as close as PS will allow, so trying to go back and forth between the anchor point and the area I'm aligning can be really tedious. If I could activate one of the anchor points then move it remotely with the arrows for example, it would make the process so much easier.
Hope this helps, maybe there's an alternative method I hadn't considered.
Bojan, for a moment, I thought you'd given me the answer I was looking for. It looked like the options bar was allowing me to choose which anchor point I could adjust, sadly, it's just moving where the reference point is positioned in the frame.
Trevor, if the 'distort' option behaved the same way that the 'warp' option does, it would be great but unfortunately it doesn't really work for what I'm doing, it creates too much local distortion. I had already tried it, which is why I'm surprised the same functionality isn't available in 'distort'.
You can drag inside the bounding box if you right click and choose Warp, but it will effect the entire area that is either selected, or the layer being warped. If you want more local manipulation then that is obviously a job for Liquify
If you enable mouse wheel zooming you can quickly zoom in and out relative to the mouse cursor position. Increasing the number of warp grid points may also help you make finer adjustments. and add control points closer to your zoomed in location.
Warp doesn't work for what I'm doing, it creates local distortions, so adding extra points doesn't change that, it just makes them more localized. I appreciate the idea of zooming in and out with the mouse wheel, it's still a really tedious process because you have to rely on guess work when moving the anchor, then go back to the area you're aligning and check how close you got.
I guess what I'm looking for doesn't exist, I'll have to give it some more thought. If I work out a solution I'll post it, on the off chance someone else encounters the same issue.