Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tutorial: Add A Mat To Your Images

Add a digital mat to your image to give it a finished look.  This tutorial was done in CS5 but should work in previous versions of Photoshop.  Here's a look at the finished image:


Let's get started!

1)  Open your image in Photoshop.  Here's mine:
 (Note:  This image does not have a border.  The border you see here is added by the blog template.)

2) Duplicate the Background Layer
       From the top of the screen choose:
          Layer > Duplicate Layer...
             -when the dialog box pops up click OK
     Tip:  Shortcut for duplicating a layer is Command J (MAC) or Control J (PC)

(click on the image to see a larger version)

 3)  Activate the original Background Layer (by clicking on it)

4)  From the top of the screen choose
          Edit > Fill...
             -the Fill dialog box will pop up
             -in the "Contents" section choose Use:  "White"
             -click OK
(click on the image to see a larger version)

Now, we are going to increase the Canvas Size and choose the border color by doing the following:

5)  From the top of the screen choose
          Image > Canvas Size...
 (click on the image to see a larger version)

The Canvas Size dialog box will pops up.  It looks like this:
(click on the image to see a larger version)

The TOP of the dialog box shows the current size/dimensions of the image.

The MIDDLE section of the dialog is where you will be adding to the size of your canvas.

Notice you can change the size by percentage, inches, pixels & more by clicking on the arrows next to the numbers.  You may need to experiment to see which one works best for your image.  In this case I'm going to use inches.

My original image is 8x10.  I'm going to add 1-inch to each side so I'll need to add TWO inches to the width and TWO inches to the height (because that will add one inch to each of the four sides... math, I know... ugh.) Now, my new dimensions are 10 x 12.

(Leave the "Relative" box unchecked and don't make any changes to the "Anchor")

The BOTTOM section of the dialog box is the Canvas extension color.  This is where you will choose the border/mat color.  Click the arrows and choose either foreground color, background color, white, black, gray, or other.

If you click on 'Other' the Color Picker dialog box will pop up.  From there you can select a color from inside the dialog box OR you can choose a color from inside your image.  (Tip:  Anytime the Color Picker dialog box is open the Eyedropper Tool is automatically active.  Just click around inside your image until you find a color you like.)

(click on the image to see a larger version)

I clicked on one of the purple grapes to get the border/mat color.  Click OK and you're done!  (You may need to resize or crop your image after adding the border.)  Here's the result:


Honestly, I'm not crazy about the color of the border/mat so I'm going to show you how to change it.

To change the border color:

Make sure the Background Layer is active and go to Edit > Fill... and select a new color.  (Same procedure as above.)  Click OK to close the dialog box.  I decided I wanted a white border.  Here's the result:
Better but it stills looks a little flat.  So, we're going to add one more finishing touch.

Add an inner mat:

Activate the layer with the image on it.  (The one above the Background Layer.)

From the top of the screen choose
     -Layers > Layer Style > Stroke...
        -the Layer Style dialog box will pop up

(click on the image to see a larger version)

Here's the Layer Style dialog box:
(click on the image to see a larger version)

First, select the color for your inside border.  (Tip: If your main border is black try choosing white and vice versa.)

Play around with the size and position of the stroke.  (Tip:  If you can't see the inner border the size of the stroke may be too small or the color may be set to the same color as the main/larger border.)

Click OK.  Done! 
This may seem intimidating, particularly if you're new to Photoshop but I promise it is really easy to do.  Just open up an image and follow along.  The tutorial is only looooong because I tried to write out each individual step.  Once you do it a couple of times you should be able to add a mat to your image in less than five minutes.

Happy matting!