How to Add a Border to a Shape in Photoshop

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Give your work a touch of class with faux matting inside the frame.
Image Credit: Lena Gadanski/iStock/GettyImages

You can add borders to frame any object in your canvas, frame the entire canvas or even outline a person in Photoshop CC. As you might expect, Photoshop has some great features to create borders that go beyond a basic line around your picture. To use Photoshop for fancy borders, consider creating faux matting around your picture, or use a clipping mask to add a border made of flowers or a photo of real wood.


Framing an Object in a Layer

Step 1: Make a New Layer

Click the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel for the border. Drag the new layer so it's above the layer you want framed. If the layer you are framing has transparent pixels and you want the frame to have a background or matting, then drag the new layer below the layer to be framed.


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Step 2: Use Photoshop Outline Shape Tools

You can now use the various Photoshop outline selection tools to get the frame shape you want.

Select the Rectangle Tool in the Toolbox to create a rectangular frame. If you want the frame to be another shape, click and hold the Rectangle Tool and select a different shape. To add a border in Photoshop with rounded corners, for example, use the Rounded Rectangle Tool. You can even have a bunny-shaped or dog-shaped border if you click the Custom Shape Tool and then select a shape from the Options bar.


Step 3: Use the Shape Tool

Drag the shape tool across the canvas so it frames your image. Resize the shape as needed by dragging any corner.

Step 4: Fill the Shape

Click the Fill menu in the Options bar. If you want a background color or pattern for the image, you can select that here. If you want only a border without a fill, click the None icon (the first one in the drop-down menu with a horizontal line through it). Click the Stroke menu and select a color or pattern for the border.


Step 5: Adjust the Stroke Width

Click the Stroke Width menu. Specify a size for the border. Borders are centered on the shape's outline so as you increase the width, the border may overlap the image you're framing. If this happens, resize the border by dragging a corner.


Step 6: Create Clipping Mask

Use a clipping mask to create a decorative border if preferred. Use No Fill and a wide stroke width and then insert a photo directly above the shape's layer. Make sure the photo completely covers the shape's border and then select Create Clipping Mask from the Layers menu.


Framing the Entire Picture

Step 1: Position the Image

Crop the canvas if needed by selecting the Crop Tool from the Toolbox. Drag the tool over the canvas and then drag the image to reposition it within the crop marks if needed. Use the Options bar to change the aspect ratio if desired.


Step 2: Adjust the Canvas Size

Click the Image menu and select Canvas Size. Note that the current canvas size is displayed at the top of the Canvas Size window. Make sure the Relative option is checked and then enter the size of frame you want, multiplied by two. If you want a 1-inch border, for example, increase the height and width by 20 pixels. Click the Canvas Extension Color menu and select a color for the frame. Click OK.


To add the appearance of matting to the frame, increase the canvas size by only a narrow margin. In our example, it's 0.5 inches.

Step 3: Add a Border in Photoshop Again

Open the Canvas Size window a second time to add a second border to the image. In our example, we're adding a 1-inch black border around the orange matting, so we increase the canvas size by 2 inches for both the height and width.




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