Add Borders to Images in Photoshop

by Guest Writer

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Start with a new layer

First you have to make sure that your "layers" window is visible. If it is not, find it in the "window" drop down menu and click on it. A layers window will appear. You will see a thumbnail of your image along with several tools at the bottom.

Create a new layer by clicking on the 'create a new layer' icon at the bottom of the "layers" window. A new layer, "above" the layer with your image, will appear (customarily, photoshop will label it "Layer 1", if you prefer, you can change the name of this layer by double-clicking on it in the "layers" window). This is the layer that we are going to fill with our preferred choice of color (think of the color of the mat when framing a picture) and then cut out an opening to show our image.

Bucket Fill the new layer with a color of your choice - this will be the color of your frame

Find the "bucket" tool in the "tools" window and select it. The bucket tool will fill the area that you point it to with the color that is set as the foreground color in the "tools" window (find two squares at the bottom of the "tools window", the top one represents the color of the foreground).

Fill with white To set the color, double click on it, a palette that allows you to make a color selection will appear, select the color that you would like to use as the color of your frame. I would like to add a white border, so I select white as the foreground color and click "enter" to okay the selection. Then I use the "bucket" tool anywhere on the my image (while making sure that the new layer, "layer 1" remains active - highlighted in blue in the "layers" window) . One click will fill the new layer with the color of your choice. This will be reflected in the "layers" window as you will see that "layer 1" is now all white and that your image remains intact - under it.

Make a rectangular selection

Create a cut-out

The next step is to create a cut-out, an opening in your "mat" to reveal the image underneath.Using the rectangular marquee tool found in the upper left corner of the "tools" window, make a rectangular selection on the "new layer". Just start at a corner and drag across the image while holding the left mouse button down. you have made a selection when you see it as an outline of "marching ants" on your layer.

Lower opacity

Almost done. When you are satisfied with your selection, hit the "delete" key (or CTRL+X). Now, you should see your image with a border around it. For an interesting effect, you can experiment with lowering opacity of the border so that it is a little bit "see through".

After you are satisfied with results, there is just one more step left. Remember, you have two layers - the layer with your image, and the layer with the mat (your frame). You have to merge them together before saving the image. This can be achieved by going to the "layers" dropdown menu and choosing the "flatten the image" option. Alternatively, you can "merge" your mat down onto your image by hitting CTRL+E with your "layer 1" layer active. Now you should have your final image, with the frame. Save it as a different file, remember not to over-write the original file by merely "saving" the file as the effects will be irreversible.

final image with white border

Pros: the pros of this method are that it is easy, simple, fast, you can use solid colors for your frame as well as gradients (instead of using the "bucket" tool, use the "gradient" tool for this), or you can even create a border by over-laying an entirely different image and using it as a frame.

Cons: if you do not have enough "cropping area", say you have taken a tightly framed portrait and it leaves no space for a frame, you will end up cutting off important parts of the portrait. Of course, photoshop has a solution for that, and I will show you how to deal with this situation in my next tutorial.

Next: try option #2

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27th Anniversary for DTG Magazine


On April 13th, William said:

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On October 13th, Christina said:

All of my questions settled - thanks!

On November 22nd, Hannah said:

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On November 23rd, Boss said:

If time is money you've made me a waelthier woman.

YES ... I've tried that in an older version of Adobe Photoshop Elements, and it works like a charm.

Thanks again for over twenty years of cool stuff.