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Gallery Style Photo Frame Layout With Photoshop

Written by Steve Patterson.
In this Photoshop Effects tutorial, we’ll learn how to create a simple gallery-style photo frame layout, complete with a text caption below it, as if the photo was on display in an art gallery. This can be a very classy and elegant way to present your work, and creating the layout is easy.

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Here’s what the final result will look like (of course, your photo and text caption will be different):

Photoshop gallery print photo frame effect. Image © 2010 Steve Patterson, Photoshop Essentials.com
The final gallery style photo frame layout.

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Create A New Document

Let’s begin by creating a new document. Go up to the File menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choose New:

Go to File > New. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Go to File > New.

This opens Photoshop’s New Document dialog box. I’m going to want my final layout to print as an 8×10 in landscape orientation, so I’ll enter a value of 10 inches for the Width and 8 inches for the Height (make sure you set the measurement type to inches, not pixels). The dimensions you’ll need for your layout may be different. Since I’ll want it to print in high quality, I’ll enter a Resolution value of 240 pixels/inch. Finally, set the Background Contents to White, which will fill the background of the new document with white, even though we’ll be changing it in a moment (this just keeps us on the same page):

The New Document dialog box in Photoshop. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Set the width, height, resolution, and background color in the New Document dialog box.

Click OK to close out of the dialog box. A new document filled with white will appear on your screen.

Step 2: Fill The New Document With Black

With our new document created, let’s fill it with black, which will become the background color of the layout. Go up to the Edit menu at the top of the screen and choose Fill:

Selecting the Fill command from under the Edit menu. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Go to Edit > Fill.

This brings up the Fill dialog box. Set the Use option at the top of the dialog box to Black:

Setting the Use option in the Fill dialog box to Black. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Set the Use option to Black.

Click OK to exit out of the dialog box, and Photoshop fills the document with solid black:

The new Photoshop document is now filled with black. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Black is now the background color for the layout.

Step 3: Add A New Blank Layer And Name It “Photo Area”

Let’s add a new blank layer to our document by clicking on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:

Click the New Layer icon in the Layers panel. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Click the New Layer icon.

This adds a new blank layer, which Photoshop automatically names “Layer 1″, above the Background layer in the Layers panel. Double-click directly on the name “Layer 1″ and change the name to photo area. Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) when you’re done to accept the name change:

The new layer has been renamed 'photo area'. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Double-click on the new layer’s name and change it to “photo area”.

Step 4: Drag A Selection Around The Main Photo Area

We need to draw a selection around the area the photo will be displayed in. Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool from the Tools panel:

Selecting the Rectangular Marquee Tool in the Tools panel. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool.

With the Rectangular Marquee Tool selected, the Options Bar along the top of the screen will change to show options specifically for this tool. I’m going to design my layout to display a photo with a standard 4×6 aspect ratio, in landscape orientation. To do that, I’ll first change the Style option in the Options Bar to Fixed Ratio, then I’ll enter 6 for the Width and 4 for the Height (the aspect ratio you’ll want for your photo area may be different):

Setting the Style, Width and Height for the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Change the Style option to Fixed Ratio, then enter 6 for the Width and 4 for the Height.

Then, I’ll click about an inch or so away from the top left corner of the document and drag out a selection which will become the area where the photo is displayed. As I drag, Photoshop locks the selection to the aspect ratio I set in the Options Bar:

Dragging a 4x6 selection outline for the photo area. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Drag a selection around the area where the photo will be displayed.

Step 5: Fill The Selection With Gray

With the selection in place, go up to the Edit menu and choose Fill once again. This time, when the Fill dialog box appears, set the Use option to 50% Gray:

Setting the Use option in the Fill dialog box to 50% Gray. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Set Use to 50% Gray.

Click OK, and Photoshop fills the photo area with gray. Press Ctrl+D (Win) / Command+D (Mac) to remove the selection outline:

The photo area is now filled with gray. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The photo area is now filled with gray.

Step 6: Align The Photo Area Horizontally With The Document

Before we continue, let’s make sure our photo area is aligned horizontally with the document. Press Ctrl+A (Win) / Command+A (Mac) on your keyboard, which will instantly select the entire document (a selection outline will appear around the edges of the document window). Press the letter V on your keyboard to quickly select Photoshop’s Move Tool. Then, with the Move Tool selected, click on the Align Horizontal Centers option in the Options Bar:

The Align Horizontal Centers option in the Options Bar. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Use the Align Horizontal Centers option to align the photo area with the document.

If your photo area was a little off-center horizontally, Photoshop will snap it into perfect alignment with the document. Press Ctrl+D (Win) / Command+D (Mac) when you’re done to deselect the document.

Step 7: Add A Thin White Border

Let’s add a thin white border around the photo area. For that, we’ll use one of Photoshop’s layer styles. Click on the Layer Styles icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:

Clicking the Layer Styles icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Click on the Layer Styles icon.

Then choose Stroke from the bottom of the list:

Selecting the Stoke layer style. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Select Stroke from the list.

This opens Photoshop’s Layer Style dialog box set to the Stroke options in the middle column. First, click on the color swatch to the right of the word Color, which will open the Color Picker, and choose white as the color for the stroke. Click OK to close out of the Color Picker when you’re done. Then, change the Position of the stroke to Inside. Finally, adjust the Size of the stroke by dragging the Size slider towards the right. You can see a live preview of the stroke size in the document window as you drag the slider. Since we want a thin border, I’m going to set my stroke’s size to 4 px:

The options for the Stroke in the Layer Style dialog box. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Change the color of the stroke to white and the Position to Inside, then adjust the stroke size with the slider.

Click OK to exit out of the Layer Style dialog box. A thin white stroke now appears around the photo area in the document window (the reason we filled the photo area with gray and not white earlier was so we’d be able to see the white border around it):

A thin white stroke now appears around the photo area. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The first of two white borders appears. We’ll be adding a second one in a moment.

Step 8: Make A Copy Of The Photo Area Layer

With the photo area layer selected in the Layers panel (selected layers are highlighted in blue), press Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) on your keyboard to make a copy of the layer, which Photoshop will place above the original. Notice that the stroke layer style is also copied:

A copy of the photo area layer appears in the Layers panel. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Photoshop automatically names the new layer “photo area copy”.

Step 9: Rename The Layer And Drag It Between The Original Two Layers

Double-click directly on the name “photo area copy” and change the layer’s name to border, since we’ll be using it to add an outer border to the photo area in a moment. Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) to accept the name change. Then click on the border layer in the Layers panel and, while still holding down your mouse button, drag it between the Background layer and the photo area layer. Release your mouse button to drop it into place when a highlight bar appears between the two layers:

Renaming the layer and dragging it between the original two layers. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Drag the new layer between the original two.

Step 10: Lower The Fill Of The Border Layer To 0%

We’re going to use the gray-filled area on the border layer to add a second, thicker stroke around the photo. Problem is, we don’t actually want the gray area to be visible on this layer. All we want to be able to see is the white stroke around it. To hide the gray and keep only the stroke visible, simply lower the Fill for the border layer down to 0%. Fill hides the contents of a layer but keeps any layer styles visible. You’ll find the Fill option directly below the Opacity option at the top of the Layers panel. Nothing will seem to have changed in the document window just yet, though, since the photo area layer is blocking the border layer from view:

Lowering the Fill of the border layer to 0%. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Set the Fill to 0% to hide the gray without hiding the stroke around it.

Step 11: Use Free Transform To Add Space Around The Photo Area

With Fill set to 0%, press Ctrl+T (Win) / Command+T (Mac) to bring up Photoshop’s Free Transform box and handles around the gray area on the border layer. Hold down your Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key, then click on either the left or right handle (the little square) and, while still holding your mouse button down, drag it outward to add a little space on either side between the second stroke and the gray photo area. Notice that only the white stroke itself is visible. The gray on the border layer is hidden from view, leaving us with an area of black (which is showing through from the Background layer) between this second white stroke and the original.

Keep Alt / Option held down and drag either the top or bottom handle outward to add an equal amount of space between the second stroke and the top and bottom of the gray photo area:

Adding space between the second stroke and the photo area with Free Transform. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Use Free Transform to add space between the second stroke and the photo area.

Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) when you’re done to accept the transformation.

Step 12: Increase The Thickness Of The Outer Border

Double-click on the word Stroke below the border layer in the Layers panel:

Double-clicking the word Stroke below the border layer. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Any layer styles used on a layer are listed directly below it.

This re-opens the Layer Style dialog box, once again set to the Stroke options in the middle column. Let’s make the outer border a bit thicker than the original one by dragging the Size slider further towards the right. Again, you can see a live preview of the stroke in the document window as you drag the slider. I’m going to increase my outer stroke size to 12 px. Leave all of the other options the same:

Increasing the size of the outer stroke. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Increase the size of the second stroke for a thicker outer border.

Click OK to again exit out of the Layer Style dialog box. We now have a thin border directly around the photo area and a thicker border around the outside of it, completing our basic frame:

The basic frame is now complete. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The photo area and the simple double-border frame are now in place.

Step 13: Open The Photo You Want To Display

It’s time to add our photo to the photo area! Open the photo you want to display, which will appear in a separate document window. Here’s the image I’ll be using:

A sepia-toned photo of a train heading off into the mountains. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Open the image that will be displayed in the photo area.

Step 14: Select And Copy The Image

Press Ctrl+A (Win) / Command+A (Mac) to quickly select the entire photo. Then press Ctrl+C (Win) / Command+C (Mac) to copy it to the clipboard.

Step 15: Select The Photo Area Layer

With the photo copied to the clipboard, switch back over to the original document window (the gallery photo frame layout) and click on the photo area layer in the Layers panel to select it:

Selecting the photo area layer. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Select the photo area layer.

Step 16: Paste The Photo Into The Document

Press Ctrl+V (Win) / Command+V (Mac) to paste the photo we copied to the clipboard a moment ago into the document. Photoshop will automatically place the photo on its own layer directly above whatever layer was selected at the time (which is why we selected the photo area layer first), as we can see by looking in the Layers panel. Photoshop named the photo layer "Layer 1", which is fine. No need to rename it:

The photo has been added to its own layer. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The photo appears on its own layer directly above the photo area layer.

If we look in the document window, though, we see that the image is currently too big to fit inside the photo area and is blocking it from view:

The photo is currently blocking the photo area from view. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The photo is currently too big to fit inside the area it will be displayed in.

Step 17: Create A Clipping Mask

We need a way to make the image fit inside the photo area, and we can do that using a clipping mask. First, click on the layer that contains the photo ("Layer 1") in the Layers panel to select it. Then go up to the Layer menu at the top of the screen and choose Create Clipping Mask:

Go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Select the photo layer in the Layers panel, then go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask.

The photo layer will indent to the right in the Layers panel, letting us know that it’s now “clipped” to the layer below it:

The Layers panel showing the clipping mask. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The photo area layer is now being used as a mask for the image.

Thanks to the clipping mask, only the area of the image that falls directly above the gray photo area below it is now visible in the document window. Areas outside the boundaries of the photo area are hidden from view:

The photo is now clipped to the photo area below it. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Only the area of the photo directly above the photo area below it remains visible.

Step 18: Resize And Reposition The Photo With Free Transform

So far so good, but my image is still too big to fit entirely within the smaller boundaries of the photo area, and it also needs to be repositioned. We can do both of those things with Free Transform. Once again press Ctrl+T (Win) / Command+T (Mac) to bring up the Free Transform box and handles, this time around the photo. Hold down your Shift key and drag any of the corner handles to resize the photo as needed until it fits inside the photo area. To move the photo, click anywhere inside the Free Transform box and drag the image into position. If your image uses the same aspect ratio as your photo area (as mine does), you should be able to fit the entire image inside of it. If not, simply resize the image until as much of it as possible is visible. Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) when you’re done to accept the transformation:

Resizing the image inside the photo area with Free Transform. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Use Free Transform to move and resize the photo until it fits inside the photo area.

Step 19: Add Your Text Below The Image

At this point, all that’s left to do is add a text caption below the image. Select the Horizontal Type Tool from the Tools panel:

Selecting the Type Tool in Photoshop. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Select the Type Tool.

With the Type Tool selected, choose your font and font size from the Options Bar. I’m going to use Trajan Pro at 24 pt:

The font options for the Type Tool in Photoshop. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Select your font and font size in the Options Bar.

Click on the color swatch in the Options Bar and choose white as your text color from the Color Picker. Finally, click on the Center Text option to the left of the color swatch, which will make it a bit easier to center our text in the document as we’re typing:

The text color and alignment options in the Options Bar. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Choose white as your text color and select the Center Text alignment option.

Then, simply click in the black area below the center of the photo with the Type Tool and add your text. I’m going to type “Steve Patterson Photography”. You’ll probably want to add something different, unless of course you’d like to give me credit for your work. Notice that the spot you clicked on with the Type Tool becomes the center point for the text as you type thanks to the Center Text option we selected in the Options Bar:

Adding a text caption below the image. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
With the Center Text option selected, the text extends out in both directions from the spot you clicked.

When you’re done, click the checkmark in the Options Bar to accept the text:

Clicking the checkmark in the Options Bar to accept the text. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Click on the checkmark to exit out of text editing mode.

Step 20: Align The Text Horizontally If Needed

To make sure the text is aligned horizontally with the document, follow the same method we used in Step 6. With the text layer selected in the Layers panel, press Ctrl+A (Win) / Command+A (Mac) to select the entire document. Press the letter V to quickly select the Move Tool, then click on the Align Horizontal Centers option in the Options Bar. Photoshop will align the text perfectly in the horizontal center of the document. Press Ctrl+D (Win) / Command+D (Mac) when you’re done to deselect the document. Once deselected, you can press the Up and Down arrow keys on your keyboard if you need to nudge the text a little higher or lower:

The Align Horizontal Centers option in the Options Bar. Image © 2010 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Use the Align Horizontal Centers option again, this time to align the text with the document.

And with that, we’re done! Here is my final “gallery style photo frame” layout:

Photoshop gallery print photo frame effect. Image © 2010 Steve Patterson, Photoshop Essentials.com
The final result.

And there we have it!

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