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HOW TO… Add A Border

Adding a border around a picture can sometimes be an effective way to highlight the picture. Instead of going automatically with borders that look like traditional picture frames, consider more original and elegant options. Today’s image editing software usually provide a number of interesting options that you can customize to fit the mood of the picture. You can easily choose from pre-built borders, or create your own, as we show you here.

In this One-Pager tutorial, we’ll explore how to create a border for the picture above. I want to add a thick black border all around it, but don’t want it to be solid. Even though we could just select one of the many Photoshop border actions available free on the Internet, we’ll instead walk you step by step in creating one so you understand how those actions are created — and you can then create your own. We will use Photoshop Elements and make the assumption you are somewhat familiar with it.

The picture is in jpeg, so the first thing to do is to open it up in Photoshop Elements and then SelectAll, followed by EditCopy. This copies the picture into memory (or the clipboard, if you want to be more exact). Close the original picture since we never ever want to muck around with it.

Now, we open up a new file to work on: FileNew…Contents=TransparentOK, followed by EditPaste. The picture is pasted unto our new file.

[Of course, though we are specifying the menu bar options (in bold), feel free to use the icon shortcuts instead.]

Save this file as a Photoshop file (.psd) with a new name. It’s a good idea to save your work each time you reach a milestone — or before you try a major change: FileSave – give it a name [e.g. chess_border.psd].

Since we want to add a border around it, we need some space around it first: ImageResizeCanvas Size…. The image is currently 400W x 300H pixels. I enter 450W x 350H to create a 25 pixels border all round (you may choose whatever border thickness you wish to work with).

If your Layers window is not opened yet, click on the Layers tab and drag it into the main window. It will now stay open. If necessary, drag the bottom edge down to be able to see more than one layer at a time.

There will be a Layer 1 already in the Layers window with the picture we’re working on. Double-Click on that layer and rename it to something more appropriate, such as "Original".

Now, create a new layer by clicking on the "Create a new Layer" icon. A new layer (again called Layer 1) appears above the Original layer. Double-Click on Layer 1 and rename it "Background". Drag the Background layer below the Original layer. You should end up with something like this:

I always create a Background Layer separate from other layers. Later you may fill this layer with a background color or just leave it transparent.

Click on the Original Layer, then create a new layer. Rename it to "Border".

With the Border layers still selected, use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to delienate the picture. Then inverse the selection to select everything outside the picture: SelectInverse. Fill this selection with Black color.

At this point we have a solid black border 25 pixels thick all around the picture. I really want the black border to be only 10 pixels thick, so I use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to delienate a rectangle around the picture 10 pixels thick (use the ruler markings to guide you). I then inverse the selection again to select everything outside of both the picture and the 10 pixels thick border. I delete the inverted selection, leaving a clean 10 pixels black border around the picture.

I want this black border to be hatched, and Photoshop Elements have the Strokes Frame effect that will do just that.

With the Border layer still selected, use the Magic Wand Tool to select the border only: just click on the Magic Wand Tool (If your Tools palette is not showing: WindowShow Tools) then click on the border. Marching ants around the border show that the border has been selected.

Apply the Strokes Frame effect: Click on the Effects tab – scroll down to Strokes Frame and click on it to select it – click Apply. [In PSE5, click on Artwork and Effects tab (if not already on screen, do Window – Artwork and Effects in the menu bar, select Frames and Show All, then scroll down to choose a border type. If there is no Strokes Frame effect, select one close to it that is to your liking. Click Apply. The effect may be applied directly to the image or the effect is first created on screen and you then drag your image into it. You can resize the frame and even rotate it.)

Flatten Layers? Click OK.

Do you wish to keep this Effect? Click Yes.

And there you have it! Experiment with the different effects and filters Photoshop Elements provides. If you make any mistake along the way, EditUndo or Step Backward will safely undo your mistake.

Have fun!


Photoshop Elements Strokes Frame Effect

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5 Comments

  • Complicated? Don’t know if I should take this as a compliment or not (I’m guessing, not) since I’m always afraid my tutorial is way too easy to follow (as many have written and said so).

    Working with Layers can seem complicated at first, but I encourage you to learn it because of the freedom it will give you when you decide to change something later. All you have to do is change that layer without affecting any other part of your image.

    You also don’t have to go through every step if all you want is a simple border. The tutorial teaches you the concepts you need to do any border you want.

  • Maybe you should say what version of Photoshop Elements you are using. The layers aren’t complicated, but some of the commands seem to be absent. Maybe it’s because this was written in 2010, but it’s seems to be useless for the current version of photoshop elements. It’s such a pity too because I really wanted to make this. I was halfway through before I realized I didn’t have he same options as you. 🙁

  • When this was written, I believed I used PE5. I am now using PE8 and CS6. There should be the same commands, perhaps tucked into a different menu? What version are you using?