Turn a Background into a Frame

This is a question I’ve been asked a number of times, and I’ve hesitated to post the answer here because the instructions are for Photoshop, not Elements, which it seems more of you use. Quite often, however, Photoshop instructions are easily translated by Elements users, and so in hopes this is true for these instructions, here’s how to turn a background into a full-screen frame behind which you can display your photos:

1.  Open the background image in Photoshop along with a photo typical of what you’ll be using with the frame.

2.  Turn the background into a layer (double-click it in the layers palette).

3.  Drag the photo on top of the background, positioning the photo where you’ll want the opening in the frame to be. If the photo is too large, press Ctrl+T, and then while holding down Shift+Alt, drag one of the corner handles toward or away from the center to resize the image. Accept your changes.

4.  Using the rectangular marquee, select the area for the opening, using the photo as your guide and keeping the marquee within the bounds of the photo.

5.  In the layers palette, select your background image and press delete to create the “hole.”

6.  Deselect, and in the layers palette, shift your photo layer to beneath the background image so you can see how it will look as you’re creating the frame.

7.  Duplicate the background layer using Ctrl+J. (You’ll see later why this might be necessary.)

8.  Double-click the top layer (the copy of the background) to bring up the layer style dialogue.

9.  Click “Bevel and Emboss.”

10. Use “Inner Bevel,” changing the Size (try 29 px) and Soften (try 8 px). Click OK.

11. Select the photo layer and double-click it to bring up the style dialogue.

12. Select “Inner Shadow.”

13. Set the distance to 0, choke to about 42, and size to about 38. Then click OK. (This creates a vignette around the photo to give it depth.)

14. In the layers palette, right-click the line that says “Inner Shadow” and choose “Create Layer.”

15. The second layer will have an arrow symbol pointing down to your photo layer. Right-click that second layer and choose “Release Clipping Mask.”

16. Delete the photo layer. If you want to keep the beveling on the perimeter of your background image, go to Layer > Merge Visible, and Save As.


16. If you want to eliminate the outside bevel (this is why you made a copy of the background layer), draw a rectangular marquee around the photo frame area, making sure the marquee is outside all the shadowing and highlighting.

17. Go to Select > Inverse.

18. In the layers palette, right-click the top layer and select “Convert to Smart Object.” Right-click again, this time choosing “Rasterize Layer.”

19. Press delete.

20. Merge the 3 layers into one layer and use Save As.


Take the time to explore all the options in layer styles. The frame design given in the above instructions is used only as an example.

Published in: on August 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm  Comments Off on Turn a Background into a Frame  
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Backgrounds from Plasma

It’s playtime!

1. Create a blank slide.

2. Add a Solid Color to it, perhaps  sky blue.

3. Add a Gradient to it, and in Masks, choose “Plasma” as the type.

4. Click “Randomize Seed” until you see a shape that reminds you of clouds.

5. Soften the gradient by spreading apart the two center sliders and accept the changes.

6. If the gradient isn’t in layer 1, move it there, and then turn it into a grayscale mask.

You just created a cloudy background over which you can place anything your heart desires. Change the color of the layer being masked and the shape of the plasma mask to come up with other interesting backgrounds. Or you can get fancy-schmancy like I did using several colored layers, moving and rotating them, blurring them, and I don’t remember what else, but it sort of looks like a sunset, doesn’t it?

Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 2:04 pm  Comments Off on Backgrounds from Plasma