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Frame It: How to Frame Digital Images with Photoshop

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A good picture deserves a good frame. Just as you frame the artwork you hang on your wall, you can also create frames for your digital photos and art. Photoshop has plenty of tools to help you make wonderful frames that complement and enhance your photos. Helen Bradley shows you how to create a range of frame effects in Photoshop. In the process, you'll learn some handy ways for working in Photoshop and discover practical applications for styles and filters.
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A good picture deserves a good frame. Just as you frame the artwork you hang on your wall, you can create frames for your digital photos and art. Photoshop has plenty of tools to help you make wonderful frames that complement and enhance your photos. This article shows you how to create a range of frame effects in Photoshop. In the process, you’ll learn some handy ways for working in Photoshop and some practical applications for styles and filters.

Basic Tools

When preparing an image for framing, start by cropping it so you remove any excess image and can focus in on the interesting portion. It’s easier to work with images that have dimensions that are whole numbers of inches (for example, 8 x 10 inches instead of 8.25 x 10.1 inches). You will find it easier to locate the center of the image and then create a half-inch border around the image, for example.

For most frames, you need to add extra canvas around the image so you will not lose part of your image because the frame covers it. To do this, choose Image > Canvas Size. Click the Relative checkbox and enter the amount of extra canvas in the Width and Height boxes. You can set this to a measure such as inches, centimeters, or a percentage of the current image size. Click the middle of the nine squares to add space around all four sides of the image—the values for width and height are halved and added to each side of the image. From the Canvas Extension Color list, choose the color to use for the new area. This option is available only if the image has a background layer—the color is added to the background layer regardless of which layer is currently selected. If your image doesn’t have a background layer, this option is grayed-out and a transparent area is added around the image (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1 When your image has no background layer, the Canvas Extension Color option is grayed-out; if it’s visible, the color will always be added to the background layer.

You can use the Canvas Size dialog box to create a very simple frame. Ensure that your image is flattened to a single background layer. Choose Image > Canvas Size and add a small white frame around all four sides of the image. Repeat and add a very narrow area (a few pixels in size), using black as the color. Repeat and add another white area and continue. You can create some wonderful frame effects by using only this tool (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2 Repeatedly adding canvas area in alternating colors of black and white creates a simple but effective frame around this image.

A different yet simple frame effect can be created on an image that has the background converted to a regular layer and then some extra canvas added around it. Add a new layer by choosing Layer > New > Layer, fill the layer with a solid color, add a texture such as Burlap or Canvas by choosing Filter > Texture > Texturizer, and drag the texture layer below the image layer to frame it. Add an Outer Glow and an Inner Shadow to the image layer using the Layer Style dialog box so the image appears to be placed behind the frame (see Figure 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3 This simple frame is created by adding some extra canvas, adding a layer of texture under the image, and finishing with layer styles to give it a dimensional look.

 

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