May 18, 2005

Creating Rough Edged Borders in Photoshop

If you want to add a rough edged border to an image there are various ways you can do this. You can scan a border from one photographic image and merge it with another photograph as a layer. Or you can buy plug-ins for Photoshop that incorporate custom border designs.

But in the following technique I am going to show you a fairly simple way to generate a random rough edged border within Photoshop.


Before and after using Martin Evening’s rough edged border technique.

This technique makes use of the Clouds filter. The interesting thing about the Clouds filter is the randomness you get. So the borders that are produced using this method will never be exactly the same for each image. But first let’s take a quick look at working with the Clouds filters.

Working with the Clouds filters
These filters generate a cloud pattern that fills the whole image (or selected area) based on the foreground and background colors. The cloud pattern alters each time the filter is applied, so repeated filtering (Command/Control-F), for example, will produce a fresh cloudscape every time. If you hold down the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (PC) whilst applying the Clouds filter, the effect is magnified. The Difference Clouds filter has a cumulative effect on the image. Applying it once creates a cloud pattern based on the inverse color values. Repeating the filter produces clouds based on the original colors and so on… although after each filtration the clouds will become more pronounced and more contrasty.

This is a normal application of the Clouds plug-in filter.

This is a second application in difference mode.

Creating the rough edged border

Figure 1. To begin with I opened an image, added an empty new layer above the Background layer and chose Select > All. I followed this with Select > Modify > Border and entered a pixel value that was large enough to create the border size I wanted. Next, I feathered the selection by a smaller percentage. In this example I created a 36 pixel border selection and feathered it by 6 pixels.

Click on image to see larger sized image in a new window.

Figure 2. I then Reset the foreground/background colors so that Black was the foreground color and white the background color. I then went to the Filter menu and chose Render > Clouds.

Figure 3. I then added another empty new layer and with the selection still active, filled the selection with black and set the blend mode to Multiply.

Figure 4. I deselected the selection, merged the two newly added layers together and applied an extreme Levels adjustment to harden the edges of the border I had just created.

Click on image to see larger sized image in a new window.

Figure 5. Here is the final image showing the Background layer with the merged border layer set using the Multiply blend mode. The border effect will vary a lot depending on the pixel dimensions of the image. You can also create different types of borders by varying the feather amount and Levels adjustment.

The technique shown here was adapted from Martin Evening’s forthcoming book: Adobe Photoshop CS2 for Photographers, Focal Press. The first print edition is out now and a shipment of books is already on its way to suppliers in the UK and US. Deliveries to other countries will take longer.

Martin is happy to report that Amazon has apparently fixed the issue with his book’s title on their web store (see this PSN item SNAFU? FUBAR? Either way it’s Wrong) and books are now being sold at Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble. Ironically, Martin’s book zoomed up to be included in the top 100 books of all catagories shortly after the PSN article.

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