Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Quick and Easy Digital Mats

Some people have asked how to do the color mats I have been showing lately. It is easily and quickly done in Photoshop (or Elements). Here's how:

1. Prepare the image you want to mat. In this case, it is a photo of shore birds in flight.

2. Make a new file and size it about 3 inches larger than the image. So for example, if your image is 8x10, size the new file approximately 11x13.

3. Copy the main image and paste it onto the new larger file you just created.  Once you have done that, you will see your image with blank areas all around it.

4. The next step is to place a narrow line around the image called a Keyline. It can be either a coordinating color or a contrasting color. For this image I chose the brown color of the birds' feathers.
--  To create the Keyline, first make sure the image layer (not the empty mat layer) is highlighted in the Layers Palette.
-- Then go to Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options. When the new Layer Style box opens,  scroll down the left-hand column and click on the word "Stroke." (Do NOT click in the Stroke check-box - be sure to click on the WORD "Stroke.")
-- Then in the large central section of the Layer Style box, find the word "Color" and a rectangular box next to it (the box is probably filled with black at this point). Make sure the Fill Type box just above it says "Color." Click inside the rectangular black box and another new box "Color Picker" will appear.
-- Now place the cursor (which will look like an eyedropper) over your image and click once on the color in your image that you want to use as the Keyline color. This color will instantly be drawn around your image. Click OK and the Color Picker box will disappear.
-- You will now see the color you selected in the "Color" box in the Layers Style box.
-- You can make the Keyline wider or narrower to suit your taste by moving the Size slider near the top of the Layer Style box. 
-- I usually choose "Outside" as the position for the Keyline, Blend Mode "Normal," and "Opacity" at 100%. When the Keyline looks good to you, click OK.

5. Now choose the overall mat color.
-- First make sure the empty mat layer (not the image layer) is highlighted in the Layers Palette. 
-- Click the letter "i" on your keyboard, or select the eyedropper tool. Place the eyedropper over a color in your image that you want for the mat color, and click on that color. I chose the sky color.
-- Now go to Edit > Fill. When the Fill box opens, make sure that under "Use" it says "Foreground Color", and under "Mode" it says "Normal." Opacity should be 100%.  Then click OK.
-- If the mat color appears too light or too dark, go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and move the center slider to the Right to darken, or to the Left to lighten.

That's it. It might sound complicated or time-consuming, but once you have done it a few times it will go quickly and easily. In general, choose colors that frame your image well, and enhance it without overpowering it. Matting and framing any art piece should enhance its beauty and its power, while keeping the attention on the piece and not on the mat or frame.

1/1250 sec. at f/8, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5/6 IS II + 1.4x III extender for a focal length of 560mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The seed of your next artwork lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece."  --David Bayles  

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