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Create a ragged border

Create a ragged border - Learn how to create a simple ragged border using brush presets

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Adobe Photoshop

You don't have to buy expensive border making plug-ins if you own an image editing program. Here we show you how you can create the effects using one of the preset brushes
Words & Pictures Peter Bargh of ePHOTOzine

Here's a technique I've developed for making ragged borders just like those you'd get using a plug-in such as AutoFX Photo/Graphic Edges. I've chosen a photo with a dark surround and, although original shot on a medium format camera, I've resized it to simulate a conventional 3 million pixel digital image. This is so you can follow the technique with one of your photographs and use the same settings that I use. The file is a 2048x1536pixel image.
I'm using Photoshop CS, but older versions or Photoshop Elements can be used and most other makes will have similar features that you can apply too.

Create a ragged border1 The first stage is to create a new layer that we will use to paint on the ragged edge. In Photoshop CS this is done by going to Layer>New>Layer or Shft+Ctrl+N. You can also click on the small layer icon in the layer palette indicated by the red arrow.

Create a ragged border

2 Now make a selection using the rectangular marquee tool. Click in the top left corner where you want the selection to start, hold the mouse down and drag to the bottom right corner where you want the selection to end. The dotted selection is where we will create the ragged border, so make sure this is where you want the effect to occur. In this photograph that's a fairly small drop in from the edges of the frame because I don't want to crop too much into the hair.

3 Go to Select>Inverse so the selection changes from the inner area to the border as illustrated here.

Create a ragged border

4 Now go to Edit>Fill and, depending on whether you may want the outer part (frame) of the photo black or white, select the desired fill colour from the pop up box and click okay. The photo will then have a layer with just a border in it and will appear as a surround on the photo. For best results use black when the inner area has light tones and white when, as in this example, the inner area has dark tones. Create a ragged border

5 Now the creative bit. Make sure the frame layer is selected by clicking on it and select the erasor tool from the toolbar. At the top of the page you'll now see various brush options under the normal menu. Click on Brush to bring up the brush preset picker. From here click the little arrow, top right, to take you to a list of brush styles and from the list select Dry Media Brushes. You will be asked if you want to replace the current set. Click okay. Don't worry, you can go back to this point and reset the default set or choose different ones at a later stage.

Create a ragged border

Select the Pastel Medium Tip brush indicated by the red arrow to the right and adjust the diameter of the brush to 75pixels to give you a decent ragged effect.

Create a ragged border

6 Magnify the photo on screen so just a small area of the border is showing and begin to paint using the erasor brush on the border layer. Work from inside the picture so the edge of the brush creaps into the border area. You will see that the white is erased so the background shows through and it will have a ragged effect. You can do this really quickly by erasing around the edge following an uneven line, but to get best results take your time and change brush size to vary the evenness of the ragged edge. Create a ragged border

7 When you are happy with your paint job you can apply some blur or try one of the artist filters to change the way the edge looks. I'm pleased with the straight erasor brush version and won't make any further changes.

But, before you flatten the image why not save the work you've done so you can apply it to other same size images in the future?

8 With the border layer active click inside the white frame area using the Magic Wand tool, making sure the tolerance setting is 1 pixel. Then go to Select>Save Selection. In the pop up box call the selection something that makes it recognisable (I named mine ragged edge 1) This will save your work as an alpha channel. Then when you want to apply the border to a new photo open the new one and this one. With the new one active go to Select>Load Selection. From the drop down list in the source box choose the photo that you saved the selection in and pull up "ragged edge 1" from the channel box. The selection will appear on your new photo providing you have both pictures in the same orientation and saved at the same dimensions. All you have to do then is go back and redo step 4 of this tutorial to apply your border.

Create a ragged border
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