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Black-and-white images are particularly well suited to colorful frame treatments. For a color photo, try using a woodgrain or metallic pattern, or use Photoshop’s Desaturate command to change a color pattern into a monotone one (Image > Adjustments > Desaturate).

One way to add interest and importance to a photo is to frame it. This is as true in the digital world of web-based photo galleries as it is in a brick-and-mortar gallery. Adding a decorative virtual frame to an image may also enhance its presentation when viewing it in a digital photo frame, on your computer desktop or on your HDTV.

Creating a simulated frame effect in Photoshop is relatively fast and easy. Start by selecting a color or graphic pattern to use for the frame. In this example, we’ve used one of the fine-art images by graphic artist Dan Larsen (available from

To make a simulated frame in Photoshop, follow these steps:

1. Open the image you want to use as your frame in Photoshop. It must be large enough to fill your frame size and as large or larger than the photo you’re framing.

2. If necessary, rotate and resize the photo to match your frame size (Image > Image Size…).

3. Select the entire Background layer (Cmd/Ctrl + A).

4. Make sure your background color is set to white, and create a new layer “via cut” (Layer > New > via Cut, or Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + J). This makes your entire photo a new layer on top of a blank white Background layer.

5. If rulers aren’t visible, turn them on (Cmd/Ctrl + R). Click on a ruler and drag it into the image to create a new guide. Place new guides at equal distances from each edge to create the dimensions of the frame.

6. Using the Selection tool, select the area inside your guides. Make sure your photo layer (not the Background layer) is active in the Layers palette and cut the selected pixels (Cmd/Ctrl + X).

7. You now should see the white Background layer surrounded by your chosen frame.

8. Make the frame look more realistic by adding a drop shadow. Double-click the frame layer in the Layers palette to open the Layer Style controls. Select Drop Shadow, set the Distance to 0, and adjust the Opacity, Spread and Size variables to your liking.

9. While still in the Layer Style controls, also select Bevel and Emboss. Set the Style to Inner Bevel, the Technique to Chisel Soft and the Direction to Up. Adjust Size and Soften to your liking. We set the Size to 10 pixels and a Soften level of 10 pixels.

10. To further enhance the framed look, repeat steps 3-9 to create a plain white matte beneath the colorful frame. Here, we preferred the look of the white matte without the Bevel effect, so we skipped repeating step 9 in this illustration.

That’s all there is to it. The next time you’re prepping an image for electronic display, consider the creative possibilities of adding a decorative frame.

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