Look the Part - How to Show off your Photos like the Professionals [Photoshop tutorial]

Look the Part – How to Show off your Photos like the Professionals [Photoshop tutorial]


Guest blogger, Helen Bradley from ProjectWoman shows how you can create great looking frames for your images in Photoshop.

Hb Intro

When you’re displaying your photos on a blog or a website you’ll want them to look as good as they would if you had them framed on the wall. Here is a Photoshop technique for adding a frame, complete with your name and photo details, to a photo.

To see what we are aiming for, compare the two images below. The photo on the left is unadorned and the one on the right has been framed using the process outlined in this step by step. This frame gives the photograph a very smart and professional look.

Hb Example

Here’s how to achieve this:

Hb Frame Step1

Step 1

Once you have finished editing your photograph in Photoshop, click the topmost layer of the image and press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E (Command + Option + Shift + E on the Mac), to create a new layer containing a merged version of the image.

Click this new top layer and choose Select > All and then Edit > Stroke. Set the Width to 2 pixels, the Color to black and select Inside and click OK. This adds a keyline around the image and makes sure that any white areas in the photograph do not bleed into the frame. Adjust the stroke width to match your image size – larger images can handle a wider stroke whereas small images may need only a 1 pixel stroke. Choose Select > Deselect or press Control + D (Command + D on the Mac).

Hb Frame Step2

Step 2

Enlarge the Photoshop image window by dragging on one corner. You want to see some of the gray edge around the photo. Set the background color to the desired frame color. Click the Crop tool, select the entire photo and let go the mouse button.

Hb Frame Step3

Step 3

Hold the Alt key (Option on the Mac) and drag on the left or right side of the crop marquee outwards into the gray area of the image. What you’re doing is marking the amount of space that you want for a frame around the left and right areas of the image.

Repeat using the Alt key (Option on the Mac), on the top or bottom border to create a matching amount of space above and below the image. Now, without holding down any other keys, drag the bottom border downwards to create a larger space at the bottom of the image.

Double click on the crop selection and this extra area you have marked out will be added to your photograph. If your image had a background layer the color is added to the background. If your background layer had been previously converted to a regular layer, the extra area will be transparent. If the area is transparent, add a new layer by choosing Layer > New > Layer and fill it with white or your chosen frame color by choosing Edit > Fill and choose the color to use from the Use list. Drag this layer underneath your topmost photo layer.

Hb Frame Step4

Step 4

Select the topmost layer, choose Select > All and then Edit > Stroke and add another 2 pixel black stroke on the Inside of the selection. Choose Select > Deselect or press Control + D (Command + D on the Mac).

Hb Frame Step5

Step 5

Click the Horizontal Type tool and select a relatively plain font such as Myriad Pro, black color and type your name below the photo. For example, I use “Helen Bradley – Photography”. To widen the spacing between the font characters so they fit better across the screen, select the text and press Alt + Right Arrow (Option + Right Arrow on the Mac). To center the text below the image, select the text and the image layer and choose Layer > Align > Horizontal Centers.

If desired, add the photo title and date captured on the right hand side underneath the photograph in the same font face but a smaller font size. This time, don’t stretch the characters apart and use an Italic font if desired. Align the last character in the title with the edge of the image.

Step 6

You’re now ready to save a version of this image as a JPEG file for web display.

Choose a ‘frame’ color that works for your images, you can use an off white color rather than white or reverse the colors and use white keylines and type, and a black frame. Whatever choice you make, it will ensure your photos are readily identifiable if you consistently use the same design for all your images.

Hb Frame Tip

If you are preparing a series of images to display on the web, you can create a frame shape with the keylines and type already in place on the frame layer and with a cutout area for the photograph to appear in. Save the frame image as a PSD or layered TIFF file ready for use. Open the frame and your finished photo. Flatten your photo image to a new layer using Control + Alt + Shift + E (Command + Option + Shift + E on the Mac) and drag this new layer underneath the “hole” that you have cut out of the frame image and size the image to suit. Save the framed version and repeat as required. When you have a lot of images to process and if you’re prepared to loose a little of the image edges for the sake of speeding up your workflow, you will find that adding an image to a frame is quicker than creating the frame for each image separately.

Helen Bradley blogs at www.projectwoman.com/phototips.html and you can visit her website at www.projectwoman.com.

Read more from our Post Production category

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Bob January 30, 2012 10:43 pm

    Enjoyed the article but when I printed it to Adobe Acrobat X to get a pdf file to keep handy - the article does not space itself nicely. It splits over page breaks and images and occasionally loses some text.
    This applies whether I use Chrome or Firefox.
    Can you offer any advice please?

  • Lorbie March 25, 2011 03:58 pm

    adjusting canvas size works for me,
    lesser steps to follow too

  • chuckiesd January 30, 2009 04:47 pm

    That's cool. I never make my photo like this. This is good idea.

  • Jacob January 13, 2009 04:32 pm

    There are also specific program to add frames to images.
    For the Mac, I recommend Apparent Software ImageFramer, which can easily do a variety of photorealistic looking frames with mats, shadows etc.

    For some exampes see: http://www.apparentsoft.com/imageframer/gallery

  • Helen Bradley October 8, 2008 02:13 pm

    Yes KKL, the photo was captured using a Canon SD870 IS converted to shoot IR rather than visible light. The process removes the IR filter from the camera and converts it so it now only captures IR light. The upshot is that you get all the benefits of a pocket size point and shoot and IR images without all the fuss of not being able to see to focus or compose and having to take long exposures. Way too cool!

    I have a blog post here showing another image and links to the folk who do the conversion for you. Can't recommend them highly enough.

    Point and Shoot IR

  • KKL October 6, 2008 06:44 pm

    wait a minute! in step 4! did it really said a IR converted SD850 IS? O_O whoa!

  • jake October 1, 2008 12:11 am

    good day,

    I'm totally starting to get dizzy and pale. I just can't follow the instruction. I wanted to learn how to do it step by step but there seem to be lacking with this instruction. I would like to ask if anybody can share a step by step work flow with this framing technique. please please...

  • lbaranyai973 September 26, 2008 12:29 am

    Oh yes, this is a great tutorial. I think frame is question of taste. The best frame really adds something to the photo, it is not just a common background/surrounding instead of watermarks.
    I use Linux most of the time therefore I play with Gimp. For those who are in the same boat, I made a template available at:


    The blog is in Hungarian, but the template is quite simple. Have fun!

  • Thomas|K September 23, 2008 07:17 pm

    To be as flexible as possible I don't add a border to the picture itself in Photoshop - instead the framing happens in the CSS-Stylesheet of my photoblog. This way I can change the size/color/titelfont of the Image at any time with no effort .
    BTW I also don't like big frames. For me the Picture should stand in foreground and not the title or the frame.

  • Digital Photography September 23, 2008 05:32 am

    Great Adobe Photoshop tutorial. These images will give your client a "limited edition" feeling when viewing such a print and increase the prints value.

  • Prince September 22, 2008 11:24 am

    This was a quick way to make a frame. Very helpful.


  • Dan September 22, 2008 09:49 am

    Thanks for the great tips.

  • Kirk September 22, 2008 06:51 am

    I think this is more useful when creating greeting cards vs anything professional (prins and such).

  • Ken Fasimpaur September 20, 2008 11:43 am

    Have to concur with Megapixelicious as well. A white or black frame as a simple device to make the image stand out is one thing, but particularly with the use of a large proper name, the word pretentious comes to mind....

  • oldwolf September 20, 2008 08:11 am

    For PSP X2 all you have to do to add the border is go to Image ---> Add Borders. Type in the size of the borders you want, pick the color and click on Ok.

    Typing on the bottom edge of the border is fairly easy like in PS. Just pick the Text tool.

    If you want a drop shadow with your border then there's a script that comes with PSP called Border with drop shadow that you can run. You pick your border size when the script gets to that part.

    To get your Script Toolbar to appear you click on View ---> Toolbars ---> Script. You then click on the pulldown menu for that toolbar that pops up and choose the script called Border with drop shadow. Click on the play button right next to the pulldown menu.

  • How September 20, 2008 05:28 am

    thanks for the tutorial. I was wondering how i could do this

  • Pete September 19, 2008 11:11 pm

    Great tips & thanks to Rachel for the extra info.


  • Sunnyman September 19, 2008 10:39 pm

    @Alex: I guess we are talking about the same thing, My version of Photoshop is in Swedish, so in English it is probably called "Canvas size".

  • Sunnyman September 19, 2008 10:35 pm

    Neat tutorial. Actually, I like to keep thing simple so when I add such borders to my images I do it in a completely different way (so simple I haven't even bothered to post it on my blog):

    1. In Photoshop, I choose "Image" -> "Workspace Size", and in the popup window I add as many pixels as I like, to create the first, innermost, part of the frame. When I execute that, an area with whatever background color I have active at the moment (usually white) is added to the image.

    2. To get a narrow dark line, I simply change the background color to a dark hue, like a dark grey - then repeat the process, extending only a few pixels now.

    3. To get a white area outside the dark line, I switch the bg-color back to white, then repeat as in step 1.

    I have used this method for some images on my blog: A1PhotoTips.com - although recently I've stopped bothering with it.

    Note: if you have several layers, you need to activate the Background layer first.

  • Alex September 19, 2008 09:08 pm

    Canvas Size function does all the messy borders dragging exactly and within a second.

  • Viewhunter September 19, 2008 08:25 pm

    100% agree with Megapixelicious.

  • John P September 19, 2008 09:37 am

    Thanks Aaron M. I think your method would also be able to be used in Elements which is all I have.

  • Aaron M September 19, 2008 08:46 am

    I prefer, instead of using the CROP tool to create the border/frame, it's much better to use the "CANVAS SIZE" tool (under Image --> Canvas Size) to create the border. The nice part about the "Canvas Size" tool is that you can set the exact number of pixels in each direction to expand. Additionally, you can have it be "relative" meaning you can tell it how many pixels bigger than it currently is, to draw. So what I usually do is set a WHITE BACKGROUND to be relatively 1 pixel larger. Then I set a BLACK BACKGROUND to be relatively 50 pixels larger. I change the # of pixels based on how large the picture is. I've setup actions to create these and I have actions for "Frame (large)", "Frame (medium)", and "Frame (small)", based on how many pixels each I want them to be.

    If people want more detailed instructions, I can put something together (just ask): leftquark AT leftquark DOT net.


  • Megapixelicious September 19, 2008 08:07 am

    Sorry but I dont see how a frame make a picture look professional. Every time I see a picture framed with big words under it it makes me think of the "inspirational" posters or photographer advertisement.

    It forces the viewer to split its attention between the text and the image. Which is a bad thing (tm).

    IMHO the only reason to use a frame is to separate the picture from the background when image borders are not clearly defined.

  • Embassy Pro Books September 19, 2008 02:19 am

    Thanks for the great info!

  • Pete Langlois September 19, 2008 01:21 am

    @ Rachel

    Good point, doing hundreds of photos one by one is a good way to drive yourself nuts!


  • Mikel Daniel September 19, 2008 12:51 am

    This is a great tutorial, and very similar to how I've done borders in the past. The one things that needs to be mentioned is the less-is-more principle. I've seen many new photographers eager to add a "professional" looking border that ends up being so large and gaudy that it swallows up the image contained within. Primarily a border should contain the eye within the constrains of the image, as well as add just a touch of spice to an already great photograph. Don't use it in the hopes that it will make something subpar, better.

  • pablo September 19, 2008 12:32 am

    cool stuff!
    it would be nice to have the same tutorial for GIMP and allow a "template" file to be downloaded from the post.

  • rachel September 19, 2008 12:32 am

    what also should be mentioned here are two ways to then repeat these steps;

    1) to create an ACTION step in photoshop that can duplicate all these steps for you with one click so you can automate a batch of images to all have this same frame on them.

    2) to "place" the image instead of just copy in, then you can relink each image as you go - much faster!!

    doing this one a time would be so tedious!

    but a nice look none-the-less.