Frame a Graphic

Placing a frame, or a mat and a frame around a picture or a graphic can be very effective and add a lot of class to your web page. Following are some ideas for framing a graphic or photo. These tutorials make extensive use of the Blade Pro plugin and several presets I have created. You can download my Blade Pro presets by clicking here. I also use a Filter Factory plugin. I recommend you download the plugins before you start this tutorial. Whenever I use the Blade Pro plugin to bevel frames, you can also use Eye Candy’s Inner Bevel filter. Before you start this tutorial, I highly recommend you go through my basics tutorial and my layers tutorial.

Header Graphic

  1. Open a new graphic the width and height you want.
  2. Add borders set to color you want frame to be (I added a border of 10).
  3. Use magic wand to select frame and choose Selections|Promote to Layer. Name this layer “Frame”.
  4. Flood fill the “Background” layer with white (or whatever color you want to become transparent if you want your background to show through.
  5. Load your selection on your Frame layer. Flood fill with white for a Blade Pro preset or with a color or possibly a wood fill for a regular bevel.
  6. Bevel your frame. I used my gold_black preset for this frame and the text.
  7. To add decorations, create another new layer and call it “Decorations” and drag it under the Frame layer.
  8. I used the letter “a” from the Orna 4 font (this is a Listemageran font and can be downloaded from the Dingbat Page link on my links page). I then beveled it with the same bevel I used for the frame. Select the dingbat graphic and make a copy and paste as a new selection. Rotate the copy to the correct position for the next corner. Hint: The easiest way to line up these decorations is to hold down the shift key and press the arrow keys to move the selection into position.
  9. Add another new layer and add your text and bevel.
  10. Add another new layer and drop shadow if desired.

Frame a Photograph

OK, let’s frame this photograph of San Francisco.


  1. Open photo.
  2. Add a new layer. Call this layer “Mat Frame”.
  3. On the new layer, Selections|All, Selections|Modify|Contract 20, Selections|Invert. Flood fill with a light color from somewhere in the photo (I chose a pale blue).
  4. Add a new layer with your selection active (Shift Click on the New Layers icon).
  5. Invert your selection (Selections|Invert). Now, apply the cutout filter (Image|Effects|Cutout) set to Color: Black, Opacity: 100%, Blur: 3, Offset 2,2.
  6. Add another new layer with selection still active.
  7. Add a White drop shadow Opacity: 100%, Blur: 1, Offset 1,1. The Cutout and Drop Shadow make the photo stand out and make the Mat Frame look realistic.
  8. Add another new layer. Call this one “Frame”.
  9. Select All, contract the selection by 10, invert and flood fill with a color or pattern (I used a wood fill). Bevel with my Blade Pro preset “Frame_Shiny”. You can find wood fills on my Free Wood Graphics page.
  10. Save as a jpg to preserve the colors of the photo.

Fancy Frames


Let your imagination be your guide when it comes to frames and mat frames. The “lace” pattern I used for the mat on this photo is rendered at the size of the photo, but is actually 421×421 pixels. I like this pattern since you can resize it without constraining the ratio and it still looks great. To create this framed photo:

  1. Open the photo. Add white borders set to 10.
  2. Open the lace pattern and resize to 200×246 (the original size of the photo).
  3. Copy the lace pattern (Ctrl A, Ctrl C).
  4. Paste on the photo as a new layer (Ctrl L).
  5. Turn off the photo layer. (Don’t be alarmed by the checkerboard pattern…this is the transparent part of the graphic). Click inside the lace border selecting the interior portion. Expand this selection by 2. Save as a selection to an Alpha Channel (Selections|Save to Alpha Channel) name it “inner”. Deselect.
  6. Then you need to make a mask out of the lace pattern. To do this, choose Masks|New|From Image, Source Window: This Window, Create Mask From: Source Luminance, Invert Mask Data: Checked. Then Masks|Save to Alpha Channel, naming it “Lace”.
  7. Delete the mask: Masks|Delete, and say “no” when asked if you want to merge with layer.
  8. Clear the layer (Edit|Clear).
  9. Click on the photo layer. Load your “inner” selection. Invert your selection and flood fill with white.
  10. Go back to the layer that is now clear and load your Lace Border selection. Flood fill with white. Bevel with my Gold_Old Blade Pro preset.
  11. Add another new layer. Select all, then contract your selection by 10. Invert and flood fill with white. Bevel with the Gold_Old preset.
  12. Add another new layer. Load your “inner” selection and apply the cutout filter as outlined above.
  13. Add another new layer (with your selection active). Apply the cutout filter again except this time the color is white, the blur is 1 and the offset is -1, -1.
  14. Save as a jpg to preserve the colors of the photo.

Frame Bevel Without a Plugin


You can create a pretty nice frame without a beveling filter. To create this frame:

  1. Follow steps 1-9 in Frame a Photograph (through “flood fill with a pattern or color”).
  2. Add a new layer with selection still active.
  3. Apply the cutout filter Color: Black, Opacity 100%, Blur 8, Offset: 3,3.
  4. Add another new layer with selection still active.
  5. Apply the cutout filter again with same settings except for Offset: -3,-3.
  6. Adjust the opacity slider on the two beveling layers until you get a good look for your frame.
  7. Save as a jpg to preserve the colors of the photo.

Gold Mat Frame

A gold mat frame on a photo can be quite striking. You will need Greg’s Pool Shadow filter for this effect. You can download this filter by clicking here. To create this frame:

  1. Open a photo and add a white border of 12.
  2. Set your background color to R: 253, G: 228, B: 153 and foreground color to R: 187, G: 170, B: 114.
  3. Select the white border and fill with a linear gradient set to 120 degrees.
  4. Apply Greg’s Pool filter. You may have to play with the controls on the filter to get the shading the way you want it.
  5. I then added another white border of 12, flood filled with wood and beveled the frame with my Frame_Shiny preset of Blade Pro.

Oval Mat Frame

An oval mat frame is another effective technique for framing a photograph. To create this mat:

  1. Open a photograph.
  2. Using the Selection tool set to Ellipse with “Antialias” checked, make an oval selection on your photo. You can move your selection with the mover tool if it is not exactly centered on your photo.
  3. Save this selection.
  4. Add a new layer with selection active. Invert this selection and flood fill with your mat color choice. If you want to add the cutout and white drop shadow to complete the mat frame, make your mat color something other than white.
  5. Add a new layer and load the selection from the Alpha Channel. Apply the cutout filter as described above.
  6. Add another new layer with selection active and add the white drop shadow as outlined above.
  7. Make a copy of your graphic (Shift D).
  8. Working on the copy, add a contrasting border of 12. Select the border and flood fill with a color or a pattern. Bevel the frame.

Quick Frame

The easiest way to make create a frame for a photograph is to use PSP’s Shapes Tool. To create a frame with the Shapes tool:

  1. Open the photo you want to frame, copy and work from the copy.
  2. Add white borders if you think you might need more working room to catch the part of the photo you want to frame.
  3. Promote your photo to a layer.
  4. Add a layer and drag under your photo and flood fill with white (this will be the background fill layer).
  5. Add another layer.
  6. Working on the top layer, set the shapes tool to “outline” (Style Stroked for PSP 6) with an outline width of around 20, color black with antialias checked.
  7. On your new layer, draw an ellipse outlining the part of the photo you want to frame, keeping in mind that you will add 20 pixels outside your selection for the frame.
  8. Move your black frame if needed by clicking on it with the mover took, hold down the left mouse button and drag.
  9. Turn off the photo layer so that all you have showing is the black frame and the white bottom layer.
  10. Choose Masks>New>From Image (This Window, Invert Mask Data checked). Then choose Masks>Save to Alpha Channel, then Masks>Delete and don’t merge with the layer (this saves the frame selection).
  11. Click inside the frame you just created with the magic wand then expand this selection by around 3. Save this selection (this will be the selection you will use to eliminate the unwanted part of the photo.
  12. Click outside the frame with the magic wand, invert your selection, contract the selection by 1 and save the selection to an alpha channel (this will be used for the shadow later if you want to add a drop shadow to the frame.
  13. Clear the layer (Edit>Clear).
  14. Turn the photo layer back on.
  15. Working on the cleared layer, load the frame selection and flood fill with a color or a pattern.
  16. Add another new layer, leaving the selection active (or load from alpha channel if you dropped it).
  17. Apply the cutout filter set to Color: Black, Opacity 100%, Blur to somewhere between 25-35, offset 0,0.
  18. Adjust the opacity slider until you get the look you want.
  19. Go back to your photo layer and load the inner selection. Invert your selection and hit delete.
  20. Add another new layer and drag it under the frame layer (between the frame and the photo). Load your outer selection and add a drop shadow Color: Black, Opacity 100%, Blur 10-15, Offset 0,0.
  21. Adjust the opacity slider until you get the look you want on this layer.
  22. Flood fill the bottom fill layer with your background color.
  23. Save as a JPG.

Unusual Shape Frames

Frames don’t necessarily need to be rectangular. Following are some unusual frame shapes for you to experiment with.


You can download a zip file of these three frame shapes (and several more) saved as psp files with masks and selections saved by clicking here. To use these frame masks:

  1. Open your photograph.
  2. Open your frame choice and resize to the same size as your photograph.
  3. Copy the photograph and paste as a new layer onto the frame graphic.
  4. Drag your photo layer to just above the “Background” layer.
  5. Load the “Mask” mask from the Alpha Channel (Masks|Load from Alpha Channel).
  6. Delete the mask and say “yes” to merge with the layer. You should now have your photo masked in the shape of your frame with your background showing through.
  7. Click on the layer above the photo. You can clear the layer of the frame. I just left the image there for reference purposes.
  8. Load the frame selection (Selections|Load from Alpha Channel).
  9. Fill with your frame pattern and bevel.
  10. If you want, add a new layer, load the “inner” selection and add a cutout effect.
  11. Flood fill your background layer with your background color of choice and save as a jpg, or gif if you need to make the background color transparent.


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