Painted Edges Photo Border in Photoshop

Create a Painted Edges Photo Border in Photoshop

Learn how to make your image look like it was painted on canvas with this easy "painted edges" photo border in Photoshop! Now fully updated for Photoshop CC 2020!

Written by Steve Patterson.

In this tutorial, I show you how easy it is to create a custom "painted edges" photo border with Photoshop that makes your image look like it was painted on canvas. We'll even create a canvas texture using one of Photoshop's filters, and then we'll blend the texture in with the image. And we'll finish off the effect by choosing a color for your border directly from the photo itself.

To follow along, you'll need Photoshop CC 2020 (or later).

Here's an example of what the painted edges photo border will look like. We'll start off with a white border as shown here. And then at the end, you'll be able to choose any border color you like:

A painted edges photo border created in Photoshop
The painted edges photo border.

Let's get started!

Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!

Step 1: Open your image

Start by opening your image into Photoshop. I'll use this image from Adobe Stock:

The original image opened in Photoshop. Credit: Adobe Stock
The original photo. Credit: Adobe Stock.

In the Layers panel, the image appears on the Background layer:

Photoshop's Layers panel showing the image on the Background layer
Photoshop's Layers panel.

Learn more: The many ways to get your images into Photoshop!

Step 2: Add a white Solid Color fill layer

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's Layers panel'
Clicking the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon.

And choose a Solid Color fill layer from the list:

Selecting a Solid Color fill layer in Photoshop's Layers panel.
Adding a Solid Color fill layer.

In the Color Picker, choose white by setting the R, G and B values each to 255, and then click OK:

Setting the Solid Color fill layer to white in Photoshop's Color Picker
Setting the fill color to white.

The document is temporarily filled with white, blocking the image from view:

The result after adding a white Solid Color fill layer above the image
The result after adding the white Solid Color fill layer.

And in the Layers panel, the fill layer (named "Color Fill 1") appears above the image. We're going to use this fill layer to create the photo border:

Photoshop Layers panel showing the new Solid Color fill layer
The Layers panel showing the new fill layer.

Step 3: Select the fill layer's mask

One of the benefits of using a fill layer is that it includes a built-in layer mask.

Select the mask by clicking on the layer mask thumbnail. A border appears around the thumbnail to let us know that the mask is selected:

Selecting the layer mask for the Solid Color fill layer in Photoshop
Selecting the layer mask.

Step 4: Select the Brush Tool

To create the painted edges, we're going to paint on the mask using one of Photoshop's brushes.

Select the Brush Tool from the toolbar:

Selecting Photoshop's Brush Tool from the toolbar.
Selecting the Brush Tool.

Step 5: Load the Legacy Brushes

Back in Photoshop CC 2018, Adobe made changes to Photoshop's brushes. And the brushes we need for this effect are now found in a set called Legacy Brushes. To use this set, we first need to load it into Photoshop. If you have already loaded the Legacy Brushes, you can skip this step.

With the Brush Tool active, go up to the Options Bar and click on the small arrow next to the current brush size:

Opening the Brush Preset picker from the Options Bar in Photoshop
Opening the Brush Preset picker from the Options Bar.

Then in the Brush Preset picker, click the gear icon in the upper right corner:

Opening the Brush Preset picker menu in Photoshop
Clicking the gear icon.

And choose Legacy Brushes from the menu:

Loading the Legacy Brushes in Photoshop
Loading the Legacy Brushes.

Click OK when Photoshop asks if you want to restore the Legacy Brushes set:

Accepting the Legacy Brushes set in Photoshop
Restoring the Legacy Brushes set.

Step 6: Choose the "Flat Bristle" brush

Still in the Brush Preset picker, scroll down to the new Legacy Brushes folder and twirl it open by clicking the arrow next to the folder icon:

Twirling open the Legacy Brushes folder in Photoshop
Twirling open the Legacy Brushes folder.

Then inside the Legacy Brushes folder, scroll down to the Thick Heavy Brushes folder and twirl it open:

Opening the Thick Heavy Brushes folder in Photoshop
Opening the Thick Heavy Brushes folder.

Inside that folder, choose the Flat Bristle brush by double-clicking on its thumbnail. This selects the brush and closes the Brush Preset picker:

Selecting the Flat Bristle brush in Photoshop
Double-clicking on the Flat Bristle brush.

Step 7: Set your brush color to black

To reveal the image through the Solid Color fill layer, we need to paint on the fill layer's mask with black. Photoshop uses the Foreground color as the brush color, so we first need to set the Foreground color to black.

The current Foreground and Background colors are shown in the color swatches near the bottom of the toolbar. With a layer mask selected, the Foreground color in the upper left is set to white by default and the Background color in the lower right is black:

The default Foreground and Background colors in Photoshop's toolbar
The default Foreground and Background colors.

Swap the colors to make the Foreground color black by pressing the letter X on your keyboard:

Setting the Foreground color to black in Photoshop
Press "X" to set the Foreground color to black.

Step 8: Paint on the layer mask

Then simply paint a brush stroke across the image, making sure to stay away from the edges on either side (since we need that area for the border).

Since we are painting on a layer mask, you won't see the brush color as you paint. Instead, the image is revealed through the brush stroke:

Painting an initial brush stroke across the image in Photoshop
Painting an initial brush stroke.

How to resize the brush

Notice that in my case, the default brush size looks too small. The actual size you need will depend on the size of your image.

To make your brush larger or smaller, first undo the stroke by going up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar and choosing Undo Brush Tool. Or press Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac) on your keyboard:

Choosing the Undo Brush Tool command from the Edit menu in Photoshop
Going to Edit > Undo Brush Tool.

Resize your brush using the left or right bracket key on your keyboard. Press the left bracket key ( [ ) repeatedly to make the brush smaller or the right bracket key ( ] ) to make it larger.

Learn more: Photoshop's hidden Brush Tool tips and tricks!

Then paint another stroke across the image to judge the result. And with my image, a larger brush size looks better:

The result using a larger brush
The result using a larger brush.

Paint over the main subject

When you're happy with the brush size, paint over the center of the document to make sure the main subject of your photo is visible. For best results, release your mouse button after each new stroke.

If you make a mistake, press Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac) to undo your last brush stroke and try again:

Painting brush strokes to reveal the main subject in the center of the photo
Painting to reveal the main subject.

Paint near the edges

Then paint around the main subject, leaving enough white space near the edges for the border. Try to paint each stroke at a different angle for a more interesting look.

Again, press Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac) to undo your last brush stroke if you make a mistake:

The initial Painted Edges Photo Border effect in Photoshop
The initial painted edges result.

See also: Turn your photo into a watercolor painting with Photoshop!

Step 9: Select the "Rough Flat Bristle" brush

So far so good. But let's enhance our painted edges with a different brush.

Right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) anywhere inside the image to re-open the Brush Preset picker. Then, still inside the Thick Heavy Brushes folder, choose the Rough Flat Bristle brush by double-clicking on its thumbnail:

Selecting the Rough Flat Bristle brush in Photoshop
Double-clicking on the Rough Flat Bristle brush.

Step 10: Paint small strokes along the top and bottom edges

With the new brush active, go along the top and bottom of the image and use small strokes to add random paint specks and splatters to the effect. Ignore the sides of the image for now.

Try to keep most of the brush cursor inside the area where you have already painted so that only part of the cursor extends into the white border area. Make sure to paint very small strokes because you don’t want to overdo it. Even a few clicks on an area with the brush can be enough.

Notice here that most of my brush cursor remains over the image. Only the top part of the cursor is extending into the border:

Adding some paint splatters along the top edge of the photo border
Adding paint splatters along the top edge.

Just as we did earlier, you may need to resize the brush using the left and right bracket keys on your keyboard. And as always, mistakes can be easily corrected by pressing Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac.

Here's my result after adding random paint splatters along the top and bottom edges of the border:

The painted edges photo border with random paint splatters along the top and bottom
The result after clicking and painting random strokes along the top and bottom.

See also: Create a matted picture frame with Photoshop!

Step 11: Change the angle of the brush to 90°

Before you paint along the left and right edges, go up to the Options Bar and change the Angle of the brush to 90°:

Changing the brush angle in the Options Bar in Photoshop
Changing the brush angle in the Options Bar.

Step 12: Paint along the left and right edges

Then with the brush rotated on its side, click or paint small strokes along the sides of the image to add more random paint splatters to the border.

Again, notice that only a small part of my brush cursor extends into the border as I paint:

Adding random paint splatters along the sides of the photo border
Adding random splatters along the sides.

Continue painting or clicking along each side to finish the effect:

The main painted edges photo border effect is done
The main painted edges photo border effect is done.

Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!

How to add a canvas texture to the image

So at this point, the main photo border is complete. But there are a couple more ways we can enhance the effect. One way is by adding a canvas texture, and it's easy to create one in Photoshop.

Step 1: Add a new blank layer

With the fill layer active, press and hold the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key on your keyboard, and in the Layers panel, click the Add New Layer icon:

Clicking the Add New Layer icon in Photoshop's Layers panel
Clicking the Add New Layer icon.

Then in the New Layer dialog box, name the layer "Texture" and click OK:

Naming the layer in Photoshop's New Layer dialog box
The New Layer dialog box.

Back in the Layers panel, the "Texture" layer appears above the fill layer:

Photoshop's Layers panel showing the new Texture layer
The new "Texture" layer.

Step 2: Fill the layer with white

With the "Texture" layer selected, go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar and choose Fill:

Choosing the Fill command in Photoshop
Going to Edit > Fill.

Then in the Fill dialog box, set the Contents to White and click OK:

Setting the Contents option to White in Photoshop's Fill dialog box
Setting the Contents option to White.

Photoshop fills the "Texture" layer with white and blocks the image and the photo border from view:

The result after filling the Texture layer with white
The result after filling the "Texture" layer with white.

Step 3: Apply the Texturizer filter

To create the canvas texture, go up to the Filter menu in the Menu Bar and choose Filter Gallery:

Selecting the Filter Gallery in Photoshop CS6.
Going to Filter > Filter Gallery.

Then in the large Filter Gallery dialog box, twirl open the Texture category in the middle column and select the Texturizer filter by clicking on its thumbnail:

Selecting the Texturizer filter in the Filter Gallery in Photoshop.
Choosing the Texturizer filter from the Texture category.

The options for the Texturizer filter appear in the upper right of the Filter Gallery.

Set the Texture option to Canvas, leave Scaling set to 100% and set the Relief value to 4. Then choose Bottom Right for the Light direction:

Setting the options for the Texturizer filter.
Setting the options for the Texturizer filter.

Click OK to close the Filter Gallery, and Photoshop fills the layer with the canvas texture.

Here's a close-up of the texture pattern to make it easier to see:

A canvas texture created using Photoshop's Texturizer filter in the Filter Gallery
The canvas texture created in the Filter Gallery.

Step 4: Change the texture's blend mode

To blend the canvas texture with the image and the border, change the layer's blend mode from Normal to Multiply:

Changing the Texture layer's blend mode to Multiply in Photoshop's Layers panel
Setting the blend mode to Multiply.

Or for a stronger effect, try the Linear Burn blend mode instead:

Changing the Texture layer's blend mode to Linear Burn in Photoshop's Layers panel
Changing the blend mode to Linear Burn.

You can then adjust the texture's brightness if needed by lowering the layer's Opacity value:

Lowering the Texture layer opacity in Photoshop's layers panel
Lowering the layer's opacity.

Here's a close-up of my texture using the Linear Burn blend mode set to 70% opacity:

The result of blending the canvas texture with the image in Photoshop
The canvas texture blended with the image.

Related: Three ways to blend two images together in Photoshop!

How to change the color of the photo border

And finally, if you want a different color than white for your photo border, double-click on the fill layer's color swatch in the Layers panel:

Double-clicking the Solid Color fill layer's color swatch in Photoshop.
Double-clicking the color swatch.

This re-opens the Color Picker. Now you could choose a color from the Color Picker, but a better option is to sample a color directly from the image.

Simply move your mouse cursor over a color and then click to sample it. You can try different colors, and each time you click, Photoshop will set that color as the color of the border.

For example, I'll click on one of the flower petals:

Sampling a color from the image to use as the photo border color in Photoshop
Sampling a color from the image.

And that color instantly becomes the new color of my border.

Once you find a color you like, click OK to close the Color Picker:

A painted edges photo border created in Photoshop
The final result with the new photo border color.

And there we have it! That's how to create a painted edges photo border in Photoshop!

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