add a border

How to Make Borders in Photoshop (Colored or Decorative)

Adding a border to a photo is a great way to add a touch of class to the overall look, mimicking a piece of artwork. Here's how to do it in Photoshop.

Adding a border to give the eye an area of empty space is a photo editing trick to create visual interest. 

In this Photoshop tutorial, you will learn how to add a block of the solid color border and a decorative border. 

Adobe Photoshop

Download a free copy of Adobe Photoshop to follow along with this simple tutorial.


How to Make Borders in Photoshop in 3 Steps

Step 1 – Select an Image

To open your image head to the top menu bar and select File >Open.

Locate your image from your computer and click to open. 

Alternatively, if you have an image file open flatten the image down to one layer.

It will be easier to work with one single image layer. 

From the top menu bar select Layer > Flatten Image.

adjustment layer icon

Check in the layers panel and you should now have just one locked background layer.

Step 2 – Unlock the Image Layer 

To unlock the background layer and turn it into a single layer select Layer > New > Background from Layer.

fill layer

Once clicked a dialog box will pop up.

Give the image layer a name and click OK.

double click

The image layer will appear named and unlocked in the layers panel.

Step 3 – Zoom Out for Perspective

To add a border around the image we will need to increase the canvas side.

To achieve a better view of the new canvas zoom out from the image.

To zoom out in Photoshop via the menu bar select View > Zoom Out or you can use the keyboard shortcut by clicking Command plus (for Macs) or Ctl plus (for Windows).

solid border color

Zoom out until you can have ample space around your image to view the border.

solid color

Step 4 – Increase Canvas Size

Increasing the canvas size will automatically create a border around your image.

Head to the menu bar and select Image > Canvas Size. 

border color

Once clicked the Canvas Size dialog box will open.

Add a value in the boxes beside Width and Height and make sure there is a tick in the box beside Relative.

Beside Canvas Extension Color select the color you want for the border color, this can be changed later. 

add a border

Make sure the dot is positioned in the center of the Anchor box, this will ensure the border is placed around all sides of the image. 

canvas size

When you are ready click OK. 

A border will now be placed around your image.

solid colored border

Experiment with different-sized borders to see which one suits your image best. 

add a border

How to Make Decorative Borders in Photoshop

A solid color border of white or black will usually be the perfect choice for a border or frame. 

But for the times when you want something a little more jazzed up it’s worth trying a colored or a decorative border. 

A different border can add visual interest by accentuating a feature or color in the image.

As you can see in the two images below, the yellow border highlights the yellow buildings, whereas the red border highlights the red. 

layer style doalog box

layer style window

To add texture or decoration to the border in Photoshop, first create a new layer in the layers panel, navigate to Layer, and in the drop-down menu select New Layer. 

Alternatively, click on the Add Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel.

Select the Magic Wand Tool from the toolbar.

Using the Magic Wand Tool create a selection path around the border by clicking on the border.

duplicate layer

Click on the Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. 

Select Pattern to add a decorative pattern as a border.

background layer

The Pattern Fill dialog box will open.

Select a pattern from Photoshop’s preset patterns and set its properties, then click OK.

layers panel

A Pattern Fill layer will appear in the Layers Panel and your white border will now be converted to a decorative patterned layer. 

layer style dialog box

If you would like to create your pattern to add as a border try this Photoshop tutorial – How to Create a Pattern in Photoshop.

Shotkit Writer & Photoshop Expert

Judyth is an experienced studio photographer and glass artist. When she isn’t Photoshopping comedians into the bellies of sharks, you can find her cooking delicious treats for her guests.

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