How to build a frame with the Bevel and Emboss Layer Styles

Most users of Photoshop use Bevel and Emboss on text to give their words depth and structure but did you know you can use it to make a killer frame?  As usual, it is just a matter of stepping outside of the usual box we live in between the pixels of the User Interface of Photoshop.  I used this technique to make the “Rudis Family Christmas Card” this year.

Me Bevel and Emboss

Within Photoshop there are a plethora of Custom Shapes that can be made, but they lack depth and dimension due to their typical two dimensional quality.  I struggled with this during the creation of the Christmas Card.  I wanted a good looking frame, but the pictures I was taking of the frames in my house were either not realistic looking enough for me or not elegant enough for the idea I was going for.  I had just about given up on the idea when I ran across a frame that would work well in Photoshop.

I knew the frame had the potential to be what I was looking for but my typical bevel and emboss workflow just wasn’t cutting it.  However, right underneath the bevel and emboss layer style is a function called “Contour”.  With the Contour curve you can control the “carving” of  the two dimensional wooden frame.  For every point added and curve made you are essentially carving into the two dimensional object.

Bevel and Emboss Contour

Couple this control with the typical Bevel and Emboss function and you have a carved frame in seconds.  The size and the depth of the frame contour are dictated by the depth and size of the bevel.  Just know that as you decrease the size of the frame (CTRL+T) the depth and size will remain the same so you may need to tweak them.

In this Photoshop Tutorial I will cover many things beyond the bevel and emboss function, to name a few:

  1. Making a frame from a custom shape.
  2. Resizing a picture to fit a frame.
  3. Moving an image within its stable mask to create composition.
  4. The Bevel and Emboss Function.
  5. The Contour of the bevel and emboss.
  6. Adding texture to a shape.
  7. Adding color to your frame.
  8. Adding a drop shadow to make your frame pop off the page.

Before and After Bevel and Emboss

Christmas Card 2015 small Bevel and Emobss


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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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