I am a fan of breaking the rectangle.  95.99999999% of the photographs you see online are rectangles, with the occasional Square or Circle.  Now, I am certainly not the first to put a border around an image, and I most certainly won’t be the last.  Sometimes adding a unique artistic border to a photo can be just what it needs to make an ordinary image extra-ordinary.

Painting Your Border

  • Since this is the last step in the evolution of an image, I will assume the image is already in Photoshop and your post processing has already been complete.
  • Ensure your image is flattened, and double click the Locked Background layer, in the layers palette, and select ok to make it editable..
  • Zoom out to about 16.7%.  To do this, select the Magnifying Glass tool and right click inside your image.  Single click Zoom Out until you are around 16%.

  • Create a layer mask.
  • Select black and start painting the borders with a paint brush.  I routinely make custom brushes which I will be using in this tutorial.  Free Brushes are available everywhere!  Type free Photoshop Brushes in google and you will find plenty!  Many are great for borders too!
  • Start painting black on your layer mask all around the corners and flat edges of the picture.  This is why we zoomed out, if you get a large scale brush and try hitting those edges with it zoomed to fit on screen your brush will disappear.
  • I like to change my brush style a lot to make the border appear more random.  Right click inside the image and change your brush and brush size often.

  • Go to town on those edges.
  • If you go too far, switch to white (x) to paint in areas you accidentally masked.
  • Once your border is complete, add a new layer under your background layer and fill it with white with the paint bucket (or fill, Shift+F).

  • Double click the photo icon in the layers palette.
  • This will bring up the layer blending options.
  • Select Drop Shadow and Bevel and Emboss to pull the image off the page.  This step is optional.  I tend to dig the 3-D quality it brings.

  • Go to Layer>Flatten Image and you have successfully broken free of the Rectangle!

There are a million ways to do this same process.  In this tutorial I used brushes, but if you can make a layer mask, you can make a border.  Experiment with layer masks, make selections of busted up walls, chipped paint or just about anything.  Get creative with it.

Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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