How to create frames using custom shapes in Photoshop

A quick guide to using custom shapes to create an edge / frame in Photoshop tutorial. The frames and edges can be created in 1000s of ways using Photoshop custom shapes. You can use any custom shape as a source for an edge.

Create frame using custom shapes

how to create frames using custom shapes in Photoshop
  1. Open image for the frame

  2. Select custom shape tool

  3. Select shape

  4. Set color for shape (black or white)

  5. Apply multiple times around the edge to create the frame

You can use the custom shapes in Photoshop in an irregular way around the edge. You can layer one shape on another. You can create small and large shapes for the edge. You can use guides to create a quick and easy regular edge. You can use a single custom shape to create a large frame / edge. You can use effects to blur the custom shape and frame (or any other effects). You can create frames using layer masks. You can use frames combining layers and layer styles and bevels etc. This tutorial shows you a selection of methods to creating a frame in Photoshop using custom shapes in CC CS6 CS5 etc

Start point for frames

I have to say from the start, there is no way an article can cover all the ways you can use custom shapes in Photoshop to create a frame or edge as there are literally millions of possible edges to any number of images. This tutorial will show the more basic square image and the shapes around the edge of the image

  1. Open the image in Photoshop CC CS6 etc

  2. Select custom shape tool

  3. Go to the shapes panel and either select a shape there OR

  4. Go to the right side menu and load / replace a new CSH set

  5. Select custom shape

Standard irregular white frame edge

creating frames using custom shapes multiple times

  1. Use open image

  2. Select the custom shape tool

  3. Select the pixel mode

  4. Set the color to white

  5. History panel

  6. New snapshot

  7. Apply the shapes around the edge of the document

  8. Change the size and location

I would also go to the history panel and then go to the new snapshot command to save a snapshot as if you add 100s of shapes to the edge, you may change your mind and the snapshot means you can quickly revert back to the original. You can add as many or as few as required to the image. You can add them small or large. You can leave some areas untouched and perhaps add more to other parts.

 

Another option to make it easier to remove the edge, is to create all the artworks on a layer so add a new layer to the image before you start and the layer can then be modified by effects or perhaps a mask added to fade parts of the design.

 

You can also duplicate the layer and add transformations to create more interesting combinations of the artworks. You can add them roughly with little consideration to proportionality of the shape or perhaps hold the shift key down to keep all the shape artworks the same.

Add regular custom shapes around frame

creating frames using custom shapes multiple times

You can space them neatly or you can add the custom shapes to the frame with multiple overlaps of the design. You can also, of course, keep varying the shape as you layer the design and add multiple layers to blend.

 

The key thing is probably not too drift off too far from the edge though it never hurts to have some randomness and the odd shape out on its own. You can also do much the same with the custom shapes for Photoshop set to the shape option and the advantage of using the shape option is that you can align the layers and also distribute them to create a more even artwork or even use guides to align the frame such as using the powerful view and new guide layout command.

  1. View menu

  2. New guide layout

  3. 10 x 10 (say)

  4. OK

  5. Select shape tool

  6. Select shape

  7. Set color

  8. Apply the shapes in the cells around the edge of the image

Single shape frame

overlap frame shape in PhotoshopThe above approach shows using multiple applications of a custom shape to create the frame but you don't need to do that, the custom shape can generally be an interesting enough frame itself and if not, combined with perhaps just a standard shape such as a circle or rectangle. Again, this can be done either in pixel mode or shape layer mode but in this example, I will be using a shape layer. Apply the custom shape as large as required for the frame and then select the rectangle tool and create a rectangle larger than the document and select both the shape and the rectangle and go to the layers menu and combine layers and subtract shapes at overlap. Now set the remaining shape to required color for the frame such as red in the example. The black cat shape example is the background and that can be an image or text etc as required.

 

Not all the custom shapes are that great as a frame such as polka dots or spots etc or abstract artwork but you always add into the mix a circular or square frame shape and then do the overlap subtraction so the polka dots are still present but perhaps only at the edge.

  1. Select Photoshop custom shapes tool

  2. Select shape

  3. Set color

  4. Apply shape with origin at the top left

  5. Drag to the bottom right

  6. Release mouse and you have a frame

You can also goto to the image menu and adjustments and invert

Single shape and apply effects

feather frame custom shapes creation

You can also add blurriness / feather to the frame shape via the properties panel or perhaps add a layer mask to the frame shape via the layer menu

  1. As above with the single shape

  2. Filter menu in Photoshop

  3. Blur

  4. Gaussian Blur

  5. Set radius

  6. OK

Layer masks for the creation of frame using shapes

layer masks and frames using custom shapes in Photoshop

You don't have to create a frame using custom shapes as the key image of the document, you can also just create a new layer and then use the layer menu and layer mask and reveal. Fill the artwork with black or white and then go to mask in the layer panel. Fill the mask with white for the frame and then add a circle or rectangle to the mask in black and then add the custom shapes to the mask in white or varying scales of gray.

 

You can then use the mask to create a selection via the select menu and load selection using the mask (invert) if you need and then fill the selection with color or an image etc though if you have added the new layer to an image, you will see the image through the frame shape (in the image opposite, the white is the underlying image.

 

You can also use the layer mask / selection with layer styles to add a more interesting colors to the frame.

Styles and shapes and frames

layer styles and frame custom shape

Select and copy the frame generated from the custom shape as a new layer and then go to the Photoshop styles panel and add new styles or layer effects and modify the size of the layer style via the layer menu and layer style and layer scaling.

What to do with frame

The frame can now be added to other images. You can use the frame with blending modes. You can use the frame and selections and fill that with images and more

Other tutorials

1. gradients to create frame and border designs in Photoshop

Related sets

1. octagonal / octagon custom shapes for Photoshop and elements

2. cat / animal / pet custom shapes for Photoshop and elements

 

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