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Making a Mitered Frame

Look at most wooden picture frames; they’re made from four pieces of wood joined at the corners where the pieces are cut to a 45-degree angle. The basic principles of making the frame by hand—measuring and cutting the wood—can be applied to making the frame in Photoshop.

To make a simple frame using this technique, convert the background layer of an image to a regular layer and add some extra canvas. Add a new layer to the image. Make a selection down one side of the image on the new layer and then add a linear gradient or a pattern to it. Duplicate this layer 3 times; then rotate one of the duplicates by 90 degrees, one by 180 degrees, and the last by 270 degrees. Drag the shapes onto the other three sides of the image so you have a border all around it. If you used a gradient, make sure that the darkest portion of the gradient is either on the inside all around or on the outside all around. Otherwise, the frame will not line up.

Make a rectangular selection anywhere on the image and use Select > Transform Selection to rotate it 45 degrees and drag it over the corner that needs trimming. Select the layer with that corner on it and trim it by pressing Delete (see Figure 6). Continue to complete all four corners. You can make very complex frames this way—just create all four sides before mitering the corners.

Figure 6

Figure 6 Use a rotated rectangular selection to cut away the excess on the frame corners to miter them.

Shapes are also good tools for creating frames. Start by creating a new image at a size that will divide equally into sections (for example, an 8 x 10 image divides evenly into 1-inch squares all around). Click the Custom Shape tool; from the shape drop-down palette choose a shape that will look good repeated around an image. Select your foreground color and set up a 1-inch grid by choosing View, Show Grid. Choose Edit > Preferences > Guides, Grid and Slices and then set the grid to Gridlines every one inch. Ensure that View > Snap is check marked so the snap-to function is enabled.

Drag a shape into the top grid area. Select it and then copy and paste the shape all around the image, or create each shape individually. You can also use the Move tool and the Alt key (Option key on the Mac) to copy the selection.

Use Layer, Merge Visible to flatten the layers if necessary to a single layer and save the file as a PSD file. In the future, you can use this frame in any image by opening the image and dragging the layer onto the image to frame and size as required. To recolor it, Control + click (Command + click on the Mac) on the frame layer thumbnail to select it, set the background color, and press Control + backspace (Command + backspace on the Mac) to recolor the border. Add a Drop Shadow and also an Inner Glow to give the border shapes more dimension (see Figure 7).

Figure 7

Figure 7 A shape copied and pasted multiple times is used here as a custom frame that can be sized and colored as needed.

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