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Painted Edges Photo Border With Photoshop CS6

Written by Steve Patterson. In this Photoshop tutorial, we’ll learn how to easily add a photo border to an image that makes it look as if the photo was painted on canvas. To create the effect, we’ll be using a Solid Color fill layer along with a layer mask, loading in some brushes from one of Photoshop’s additional brush sets, applying a texture from the Filter Gallery, and at the very end, we’ll learn how to sample a color directly from the photo itself to use as the color of our canvas. I’ll be using Photoshop CS6 for this tutorial. If you happen to be using Photoshop CS5 or earlier, you can also check out the original version of the tutorial.

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Here’s the photo I’ll be starting with (lighthouse photo from Shutterstock):

Wood End lighthouse in Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA. Image licensed from Shutterstock by Photoshop Essentials.com
The original photo.

And here’s what the final “painted edges photo border” will look like. In this example, the canvas color around the image is white, but as I mentioned, we’ll learn at the end of the tutorial how to change it by sampling a new color directly from the photo itself:

Wood End lighthouse in Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA. Image licensed from Shutterstock by Photoshop Essentials.com
The final result.

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Add A White Solid Color Fill Layer

With our photo newly opened in Photoshop, let’s start by adding a white-filled layer above our image. Click on the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:

Clicking the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon in Photoshop CS6. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Clicking the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon.

This opens a list of all the fill and adjustment layers we can choose from. Select a Solid Color fill layer from the top of the list:

Selecting a Solid Color fill layer in the Layers panel. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Choosing Solid Color from the list.

Photoshop will pop open the Color Picker so we can choose the color we want to fill the layer with. This layer is going to become the canvas behind the image so let’s initially choose white by entering a value of 255 for the R, G and B options (which stand for Red, Green and Blue) near the bottom center of the dialog box:

Selecting a Solid Color fill layer in the Layers panel. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Set the R, G and B values to 255 to select white for the fill color.

Click OK to close out of the Color Picker. Your document will appear completely filled with white, temporarily blocking the photo from view, and if we look in the Layers panel, we see the Solid Color fill layer (named Color Fill 1) sitting above the Background layer which holds our image:

Selecting a Solid Color fill layer in the Layers panel. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
The Layers panel showing the new Solid Color fill layer.

Step 2: Select The Fill Layer’s Mask

Select the layer mask for the fill layer by clicking on its mask thumbnail in the Layers panel. A white highlight border will appear around the thumbnail letting you know the layer mask is now selected. In a moment, we’re going to begin painting on the mask to allow the photo below the fill layer to show through:

Clicking the layer mask thumbnail in the Layers panel. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Clicking on the layer mask thumbnail.

Step 3: Select The Brush Tool

Grab Photoshop’s Brush Tool by clicking on its icon in the Tools panel along the left of the screen:

Selecting the Brush Tool from the Tools panel. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Selecting the Brush Tool from the Tools panel.

Step 4: Load The “Thick Heavy Brushes” Brush Set

With the Brush Tool selected, click on the Brush Presets icon near the far left of the Options Bar along the top of the screen:

Selecting the Brush Tool from the Tools panel. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Clicking the Brush Presets icon.

This opens the Brush Preset Picker. The brushes we want to use for this effect are not loaded into Photoshop by default so we need to load them in manually. Click on the small menu icon (the little gear icon) in the top right corner of the Brush Preset Picker:

Selecting the Brush Tool from the Tools panel. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Clicking the menu icon.

This opens a menu with various options, including a list of additional brush sets ready to load into Photoshop. Click on the Thick Heavy Brushes set near the bottom of the list to select it:

Loading the Thick Heavy Brushes set into Photoshop. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Loading the Thick Heavy Brushes set.

Photoshop will ask if you want to replace the original brushes with the new brush set. Click the Append button to simply add these new brushes in with the originals. They’ll appear below the original brushes in the list:

Loading the Thick Heavy Brushes set into Photoshop. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Clicking the Append button.

Step 5: Choose The “Flat Bristle” 111 px Brush

With the new brush set loaded in, click again on the menu icon in the top right corner of the Brush Preset Picker:

Clicking again on the menu icon in the Brush Preset Picker. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Clicking again on the menu icon.

Then choose either Small List or Large List from the menu when it appears. This will display the brushes in the Brush Preset Picker as a list that will make it easier to choose the brushes we need. I’m going to choose Large List:

Choosing Large List from the Brush Preset Picker menu. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Choosing Large List from the Brush Preset Picker menu.

Scroll down the list of available brushes in the Brush Preset Picker until you find the Flat Bristle 111 px brush (it will be near the bottom of the list). Double-click on it to select it and close out of the Brush Preset Picker:

Selecting the Flat Bristle 111 px brush from the Brush Preset Picker. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Double-clicking on the Flat Bristle 111 px brush.

Step 6: Paint With Black On the Layer Mask

We need to paint with black on the layer mask to reveal the photo underneath the Solid Color fill layer. Photoshop uses the current Foreground color as the brush color, so press the letter D on your keyboard to quickly reset your Foreground and Background colors, which will make your Foreground color white and your Background color black. Then press the letter X on your keyboard to swap them so your Foreground color becomes black. You can see the current Foreground and Background colors in the color swatches near the bottom of the Tools panel:

The Foreground and Background color swatches in the Tools panel. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
The Foreground (top left) color swatch should now be set to black.

Then, simply begin painting brush strokes across the main part of the image from left to right. Since we’re painting on the layer mask, you won’t actually see the black brush color. Instead, with each new brush stroke, more of the original image below the Solid Color fill layer will be revealed. If you’re not happy with one of your brush strokes, press Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac) on your keyboard to undo it, then continue painting:

The Foreground and Background color swatches in the Tools panel. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Painting some initial brush strokes to reveal the photo through the fill layer.

Continue painting brush strokes until you’ve revealed enough of your image, keeping lots of room around the edges for the canvas area:

The Foreground and Background color swatches in the Tools panel. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
The main area of the photo is now revealed.

Step 7: Select The “Rough Flat Bristle” 111 px Brush

Let’s enhance the painted edges effect with a different brush. Right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) anywhere inside the image to re-open the Brush Preset Picker. You’ll find the Rough Flat Bristle 111 px brush directly below the Flat Bristle brush we initially selected. Double-click on it to select it and close out of the Brush Preset Picker:

The Foreground and Background color swatches in the Tools panel. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Double-clicking on the Rough Flast Bristle brush.

Step 8: Paint Smaller Strokes Around The Edges

With the new brush selected, go around the edges of the image and paint small strokes to add some paint specks and splatters to the effect. Try to keep most of the brush inside the already painted area so that only a small bit of it extends out beyond the edges. You don’t want to overdo it here. Allow only a tiny bit of the brush to extend into the white area and paint with very short strokes. Even simply clicking an area once or twice with the brush can be enough. Again, if you feel you’ve made a mistake, press Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac) to undo and try again:

The Foreground and Background color swatches in the Tools panel. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Adding some extra touches around the edges with the second brush.

Step 9: Add A New Blank Layer

Let’s finish off the main effect by adding a canvas texture. Click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:

Clicking the New Layer icon in the Layers panel. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Clicking the New Layer icon.

This adds a new blank layer named Layer 1 directly above the Solid Color fill layer:

The Layers panel showing the newly added layer. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
The Layers panel showing the newly added layer.

Step 10: Fill The New Layer With White

At the moment, the new layer is blank so let’s fill it with white. Go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choose Fill:

Selecting the Fill command from the Edit menu. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Going to Edit > Fill.

This opens the Fill dialog box. Set the Use option at the top of the dialog box to White. Make sure the Mode option near the bottom is set to Normal and Opacity is set to 100%, then click OK to accept it and exit out of the dialog box. Photoshop will fill the layer with white, once again temporarily blocking everything else from view in the document window:

The Fill command dialog box. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Setting the Use option to White.

Step 11: Apply The Texturizer Filter

Go up to the Filter menu at the top of the screen and select the Filter Gallery:

Selecting the Filter Gallery in Photoshop CS6. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Going to Filter > Filter Gallery.

When the Filter Gallery appears, click on the Texture category in the middle column to twirl it open and view the various filters in that category, then select the Texturizer filter by clicking on its thumbnail:

Selecting the Texturizer filter in the Filter Gallery. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Opening the Texture category and choosing the Texturizer filter.

The controls and options for the Texturizer filter appear in the right column of the Filter Gallery. First, set the Texture option to Canvas. Leave Scaling set to 100% and set the Relief to 4. Select Top Left for the Light option:

Setting the options for the Texturizer filter. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Setting the options for the Texturizer filter.

When you’re done, click OK to close out of the Filter Gallery. Photoshop fills the layer with the canvas texture (I’ve enhanced it a little bit here just to make it easier to see in the screenshot):

The layer is filled with the canvas texture. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Photoshop applies the canvas texture to the white-filled layer.

Step 12: Change The Layer’s Blend Mode To Multiply And Lower The Opacity

To blend the canvas texture with the rest of the image, simply change the layer’s blend mode from Normal to Multiply. You’ll find the Blend Mode option in the top left corner of the Layers panel:

Changing the layer's blend mode to Multiply. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Changing the top layer’s blend mode to Multiply.

Then, to fade the texture so it appears more subtle, lower the layer’s opacity value down to around 30%. The Opacity option is directly across from the Blend Mode option at the top of the Layers panel:

Lowering the layer opacity. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Lowering the layer’s opacity.

Here’s my effect after changing the blend mode to Multiply and lowering the opacity. The canvas texture is pretty hard to see in the small screenshot here but should be easily visible in your document:

A painted edges photo border effect in Photoshop. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
The effect with the canvas texture added.

Changing The Canvas Color (Optional)

At this point, the effect is complete and if you’re happy with using white for your canvas color, you can stop here. If you want to try a different color for the canvas, the easiest thing to do is sample a color directly from the photo itself. To do that, double-click on the Solid Color fill layer’s thumbnail (the little color swatch icon to the left of the layer mask thumbnail):

Double-clicking the Solid Color fill layer's thumbnail. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Double-clicking the fill layer’s thumbnail.

This will open the Color Picker. Rather than choosing a color from the Color Picker, move your mouse cursor over an area of your image that contains a color you want to sample. Your mouse cursor will change into an eyedropper icon. Simply click on the color to sample it and your canvas will instantly change to the new color. You can click on as many different colors as you like until you find the one that works best. Click OK when you’re done to accept the new color and close out of the Color Picker. Or, if you can’t find a color that works, click Cancel to close out of the Color Picker and leave your canvas set to white:

Sampling a yellow color from the light house to use as my canvas color. Image © 2013 Photoshop Essentials.com
Clicking on a color in the image to sample it and change the canvas color.

And there we have it! That’s how to give an image a painted edges photo border with Photoshop CS6! Check out our Photo Effects section for more great Photoshop effects tutorials, or see below for other tutorials you may be interested in!

Download our tutorials as print-ready PDFs! Learning Photoshop has never been easier!

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