Add A Matte Frame With Photoshop Elements

WHEN I FIRST STARTED TO POST MY IMAGES ON LINE, I was fence sitting on what I considered to be one of the most inconsequential decisions.   Do I matte my images or do I not matte my images.   I had two schools of thought on this subject.   One was that the images should speak for themselves with no window dressing and the other was that sometimes a matte can really make an image pop.   In the end, I decided that most of my images were not going to be matted.  However, that didn’t stop me from seeking, searching and then attempting to create this effect for myself.    Today, I would like to share with you what I have found works to create an image mat using Photoshop Elements 7.   Disclaimer:  Provided everyone does not use PSE-7, I’m certain that if you are anything like me, you can take this information and apply it to whatever PS version you are using.  Clicking on any image will bring up a larger version of it.

Here is my starting image.

Step 1 – Import the image you want to use into the software.  Translation ~ Load your image.
Step 2 – Once the image is loaded, it will show in the layers palette as a background.  You will need to change this to make the image a layer.  To do this, double click the word background and on the pop up window for the new later, type in photo,  or whatever you want to call it.  This is very important.  If you do not change this image from a background to a layer, none of it will work.


Step 3 – Create work space by either maximizing your image window or by  grabbing a corner of your image window and expanding the window to your liking

Step 4 – Crop.   In this instance though, we will not be cropping things out of the photo.  The crop tool can also be used to add space to the canvas.   This is done by selecting the crop tool in the left tool bar and highlighting the entire image.     Once that has been done, you will see the move points on the corners and all four sides of the image.   Grab these points and crop out to increase the size of the canvas.  Make certain that you increase it far enough to be able to work within this new space.   Complete your crop by clicking on the check mark which still remains inside of the image.   You will see new blank canvas created around your image.

Step 5 – Select your fill color.  I use black as a rule.  At this point, color selection is not a primary concern because you will be able to adjust the color in a later step.
Step 6 – Use the Rectangle Tool for this step.  This will be located on the lower portion of the left tool bar.   Don’t confuse this for the Rectangle Marquee.   Use this tool to draw a border around your image.   Although you might feel the urge to be very exacting in this step as far as alignment, you don’t have to because this will be done later.   Once you unclick the mouse,  your new rectangle containing your fill color will completely cover your image.


Step 7- In the layers palette, you’ll have a shape layer now.  Move this to the bottom and your image will appear on top of the new rectangle.


Step 8 – Now we will align the image to the rectangle.  Select both layers by clicking on one and then Shift – click on the other.    Select the Move tool.  On the top options bar, there will be an option called Align.  Click on this and select Vertical Centers to center your image vertically on the background.   Click on it again and select Horizontal Centers to horizontally center your image on the background.

At this point, the image could be finished.  However, this is where I like to change the color of the matte to something besides black.  Even though black is usually my “go to” color, sometimes I like the matte to complement the image and therefore I’ll use a color from inside of the image.  In order to do this, double click the layer thumbnail for your shape and the color palette pops up.  From here you can either select a color manually or as I like to do, use the eyedropper tool (which is now visible) to select a color from your image.

Again, at this point,the image could be finished.   However, if you were inclined to add some effects to your matte,  this is how you can do that.   I like to add Scalloped Edges to my matte to make it look more like a frame so I’ll use that as an example.   Make sure to have your shape layer selected.  From the Effect Palette, click on layer styles and then show all.    Go to the effect called Scalloped Edges and double click on it.

You will see that the scalloped edge effect has now appeared on your matte and fx has now appeared in your layer palette.  To adjust your effect, double click on the fx.    From here you can control light direction, bevel size and whether or not it is in an in or out perspective.

Any of these effects can be added to either layer.  Play around and find out what works for you.

To finalize your matte, select the magic wand tool and make sure that All Layers is selected in the option bar.  Click on the white area outside of your image and matte.  Then Select > Inverse and Image > Crop.   This will leave only your image and matte.   To finalize, select Layer > Flatten Image or simply select all layers and  use CTRL > E to combine the layers.  Save as a (insert your favorite format here) and your done.

Make sure that if this is something you’ll want to make changes to later, to save a PSD version of the file as well.  Here is my final image.

Happy Photo Shopping!

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