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How to Make Photoshop Frames and Borders: A Step-By-Step Guide

make frames and borders in Photoshop

Want to use Photoshop to add a frame or border around your photos? In this article, I’ll show you a simple, step-by-step process to make a frame in Photoshop. I’ll also show you how to add a complex border.

By the time you’re done with this tutorial, you’ll be able to create frames and borders like those featured above, which are guaranteed to make your photos look outstandingly elegant.

Sound good? Then let’s get started!

How to make a frame in Photoshop: the step-by-step process

In this section, I’ll show you how to create a simple white frame around your photos – then I’ll explain how to create a more elaborate, eye-catching effect.

Adding a white frame

White frames are great for giving a photo that extra touch of elegance. They’re also essential if you plan to print an image and wish to avoid overlap with the mat or frame edge.

Here’s what you do:

First, open your image in Photoshop. Then select Image>Canvas Size.

You should see the Canvas Size popup window, which will include New Size parameters:

adjusting the image's canvas size

Adjust the Height and Width units to Percent (circled above); this will allow you to create a balanced frame without needing to do lots of calculations.

Next, determine how big you want your frame to be (as a percent of the original). For this example, I wanted to create a frame that’s 10% the size of my image, so I’ve added 10% to the Width and Height values.

Make sure your Anchor point is at the center of the frame, and choose your frame color. As you can see, I’ve chosen a white frame:

displaying the Canvas resize option

Finally, click OK to apply the effect.

At this point, you’ll have a frame. But if you want to add space to the bottom of the frame – so you have room to add an artist’s signature or website URL, for example – open the Canvas Size window again. Add 10% to the height, then set your Anchor point to the top center value (that way, the extra white canvas will only be added to the bottom of the file):

another image with a frame

Hit OK, then add your signature/watermark/information/etc. Here’s the final result:

ferris wheel, trees, and a frame

Adding a more advanced frame

If you want to create a more elaborate frame with custom colors, then start by opening your image in Photoshop.

Next, select Image>Canvas Size, and choose the Width and Height of your frame just like you did in the set of instructions above. Remember to keep the anchor in the center, and feel free to select a Canvas Extension Color that complements your image. When you’re done, click OK. You should instantly see a single frame around your photo.

Then select Image>Canvas Size again, but this time choose a different size and a different Canvas Extension Color. For my example below, I first create a gray frame at 3%, then I added a second, smaller frame that is the exact color of the grapes in the photo:

adding a border with Photoshop

Really, you can repeat this as much as you like, adding various frames around your image. And you can have plenty of fun choosing different colors and sizes!

Tip: To select a custom frame color, choose Other in the Canvas Extension Color dropdown. A new window will open with every usable color (and by clicking on your image, you can select a frame color based on items within the shot).

framed image example

How to add a border in Photoshop: the step-by-step process

Frames consistent of solid rectangles, but borders are much more complex. A border can be a brushstroke, a pattern, or even an image – and they’re a great way to add a more personal touch to your photos.

Below, I explain how to create a stylish grunge border in a few easy steps.

How to make a grunge border

First, you’ll need to choose an image of a skyline (it can be urban or nature). In this case, I am using a photograph of trees in a pond. Open it in Photoshop.

Next, select Image>Adjustments>Threshold and dial in a high number (e.g., 125). The aim is to end up with an image that is basically black and white, like this one:

Making a border

Select your image (hit Ctrl/Cmd+A) and copy it (hit Ctrl/Cmd+C). Then paste it in a new blank canvas (hit Ctrl/Cmd+V).

Select Edit>Free Transform, then squeeze your image until it forms a thin line:

working with the new border

Head to the menu and select Layer>Duplicate Layer. Do this three times in total (so you have four layers, one for each side of the border).

Select each layer and place its contents around the canvas. You can use Transform to rotate and resize each border edge for a more irregular look, though if you prefer an even border, feel free to leave each layer as is.

(Pro tip: If you want your border edges to look less uniform, try adjusting the blending modes of each individual layer.)

How to Make Your Own Frames and Borders Using Photoshop

Now you have an original border to use with any image you want! Remember that the border will not only complement the image but will also express your creativity and personality.

blank document with a clear border

How to apply your border to an image

I’ve showed you how to create a border, but how do you apply it to an image? Fortunately, it’s an easy process, as I explain below.

First, open the border in Photoshop, then select File>Place and select your main image file. This will paste your photo inside the border document, though you’ll likely need to do final size adjustments by dragging the edges:

image with border being applied in Photoshop

At this point, you’ll have your bordered image, but it won’t look very integrated. You’ll need to change the image blending mode until you get a better effect.

For my example, I used the Darken blending mode, but you should always try different options until you get a result you like.

final image with border

And that’s it! You’re done.

How to make frames and borders in Photoshop: final words

Now you know a few easy ways to spice up your images with frames and borders. So open some photos and see how they look with a bit of added elegance!

Over to you:

What do you plan to do with your photos? Do you have any tips of your own for adding borders or frames? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

street photos with borders

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Ana Mireles
Ana Mireles

is a photographer and artistic researcher. She has been awarded and exhibited in Mexico, Italy, and the Netherlands. Through theory and practice, she explores the cultural aspect of photography, how it helps us relate to each other, the world, and ourselves. She has also a passion for teaching, communication, and social media. You can find more about her and her work at her website or acquire some of her works here.

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