Deke’s Techniques: Creating a perfectly spaced frame effect in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

In this week’s free movie, Deke shows you how to create a perfectly spaced frame around a graphic inside your Photoshop file. Now, at first glance, this may seem rather simple, especially for those of you who have mastered adding drop shadows. But the real key to this effect is a rather ingenious use of Photoshop’s ability to contract a selection uniformly in order to create the boundaries of the frame. To do this, start with a selection based on the size of the graphic you want to frame, use the Select > Modify > Contract command to shrink your selection to the exact size you want the width of your frame to be, then invert your selection, and voila you have a perfectly sized frame around the graphic. No measuring or calculations necessary.

Once you’ve created the frame layer this way, it’s then a relatively simple matter of applying the right layer effects to sell the overall idea. In Deke’s demonstration, he applies nuanced measures of the aforementioned Drop Shadow, plus the Color Overlay, Bevel and Emboss, and Outer Glow effects. The result is an organic frame that’s integrated into your image, using a technique that has plenty of room for personal customization. In fact, I played with the technique myself this week, and using a text layer as my graphic I was able to create a birthday card for a certain application who’s about to turn 25. (See next week’s technique for more information there.)

Birthday card with frame created in Photoshop

For members of, there’s an exclusive movie this week (Adding a frame to a photograph) in which Deke shows you how to frame a photograph, making sure the boundaries of the frame are exactly those of the original image.

Stay tuned next week for another free technique which features Deke’s own birthday homage to Adobe Illustrator.

Interested in more?

• The entire Deke’s Techniques collection on
• Courses by Deke McClelland on
• All Photoshop courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
• Photoshop for Designers: Layer Effects
• Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Advanced Blending
Photoshop CS5: Creative Effects
Photoshop CS5 for Photographers

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