Monday 22 January 2007

Beginners guide to Photoshop Layers (Part 2) - Creating a border effect

So now we understand that layers work like clear acetate and can be stacked on top of each other, what uses can we find for them? Well in this example we will create a simple frame around our picture for display on a website. First open an image file that deserves a frame.

Create a new layer
We have already learnt about creating a new layer in the previous lesson. So lets add one now by clicking on the new layer icon or selecting Layer>new>layer from the menus. By default this new layer will be called "Layer 1".

Unlock the base layer
We want to place this layer underneath the background layer, but as the background layer is locked, we need to first unlock it. Once it is unlocked it becomes "layer 0". Now we are ready to get creative.

Slide the new layer under the picture layer
We want our picture to sit on the new empty layer (layer 1) . to do this we need to change the layer order by sliding layer 1 under layer 0 in the layers pallet so that it looks like this:

If we go back to the idea of layers being sheets of acetate then the ones at the top of the palette are at the top of the stack. So it doesn't matter what I paint onto layer 1 - you won't see it as it is hidden by layer 0.

Resize the canvas
So now we need to create some space round our image for the border. Select Image>Canvas size from the menu.
First select relative, this means the numbers are in addition to the to the current document size.
Then enter the size of border you require and click OK.

There can be quite a bit of trial and error with this so try out different numbers and if you don't like the size simply select Edit>Undo and try again.

In my case I have opted for a 4cm border all round the picture.

So now your image appears surrounded by an area of empty transparent space (the chequerboard pattern means its transparent).

Fill with colour
So, that's not too bad if we are printing onto paper, as the transparent stuff will come out white. But in this case we want a black border.

First make sure that the bottom layer is selected then chose Edit>Fill and select Black in the top drop-down box. Click OK and we get a nice black border round our image.

Add a layer style
Now I think it would look better with a small white line separating the border from the picture. to do this, we first select the image layer (layer 0) and then select Layer>Layer Style>Stroke from the menu.
Select the position as inside and then chose the colour and width you prefer. If preview is clicked you should be able to see the changes straight away.

You can do the same thing with layer 1 as well if you like, which gives us the final effect.

Next time, in part 3, I'll show how layers can help making "exposure" adjustments easy.


David Toyne said...

Now I know this is what I should do but I am so lazy I just bought Photoframe Pro and do it in a click.

Chris Shepherd said...

Well that's one option Dave - I'm so lazy I made it into an action and do it in a click!