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Add Photo Mounts To A Photo – Part 1

How To Create Photo Mounts In Photoshop

Step 1: Create A New Document

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

Go to File > New.

This opens Photoshop’s New Document dialog box. There’s no specific size we need for the document, but to keep us on the same page, enter 800 pixels for the Width, 600 pixels for the Height and 72 pixels/inch for the Resolution. Also, make sure the Background Contents option is set to White. Click OK when you’re done to exit out of the dialog box. Your new document will appear on your screen:

The New Document dialog box in Photoshop.

Create a new 800×600 pixel document.

Step 2: Add A New Blank Layer

Click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:

The New Layer icon in the Layers panel.

Click on the New Layer icon.

Nothing will happen in the document window, but we can see in the Layers panel that Photoshop has added a new blank layer named “Layer 1” above the Background layer, which is the layer that contains our white background:

A new blank layer has been added to the Photoshop document.

Photoshop adds a new blank layer and names it “Layer 1”.

Step 3: Draw A Rectangular Selection

Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool from the top section of the Tools panel:

Photoshop Rectangular Marquee Tool.

Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool.

With the Rectangular Marquee Tool selected, hold down your Shift key, then click and drag out a square selection outline in the center of the document. Holding the Shift key down as you drag is what forces the shape of the selection into a perfect square:

Drawing a square selection outline with the Rectangular Marquee Tool in Photoshop.

Hold Shift and drag out a square selection.

Step 4: Fill The Selection With Black

With the selection in place, go up to the Edit menu at the top of the screen and choose Fill:

Selecting Fill from the Edit menu in Photoshop.

Go to Edit > Fill.

When the Fill dialog box appears, set the Use option at the top to Black:

The Fill dialog box in Photoshop.

Set Use to Black.

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

The selection is now filled with black in the document.

The selection is now filled with black on “Layer 1”.

Step 5: Reduce The Selection Size By 50%

Notice that the selection outline around the black square is still visible and active in the document, which means we can still work with it. We need to shrink it down in size, and we can do that using Photoshop’s Transform Selection command. Go up to the Select menu at the top of the screen and choose Transform Selection:

Go to Select > Transform Selection.

Go to Select > Transform Selection.

This places transform handles (little squares) around the selection outline in the document window, similar to what we’d see if we had chosen the Free Transform command from the Edit menu. The difference is that Free Transform would alter the pixels inside the selection outline, while Transform Selection affects only the selection outline itself, not the pixels inside it. We need to shrink the size of the selection outline by 50%, so go up to the Options Bar along the top of the screen and enter 50% for both the Width (W) and Height (H):

Entering 50% for the Width and Height of the selection outline.

Enter 50% for the Width and Height of the selection outline.

Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) once to accept the changes in the Options Bar, then press it a second time to accept the transformation. The selection outline will appear at half its original size inside the square:

The selection is now half its original size.

The size of the selection outline changed without affecting the black square.

Step 6: Delete The Center Of The Square

Press Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac) on your keyboard to delete the center of the square, then press Ctrl+D (Win) / Command+D (Mac) to remove the selection outline. With the center of the square deleted, we can see the white background from the Background layer showing through it:

The center of the square has been deleted.

The center of the square has been deleted.

Step 7: Draw A Diagonal Selection Through The Center Of The Square

Select the Polygonal Lasso Tool from the Tools panel. By default, it’s hiding behind the standard Lasso Tool, so click on the Lasso Tool, then keep holding your mouse button down until a fly-out menu appears. Choose the Polygonal Lasso Tool from the menu:

Photoshop Polygonal Lasso Tool.

Click and hold on the Lasso Tool, then select the Polygonal Lasso Tool from the list.

With the Polygonal Lasso Tool selected, click below and to the left of the bottom left corner of the square to set a starting point for the selection, then click above and to the right of the top right corner of the square. This draws a diagonal line through the square’s center. Click above and to the left of the top left corner of the square, then back on the original point below and to the left of the square to complete the selection:

Drawing a diagonal selection through the square.

Draw a selection that divides the square diagonally.

Step 8: Delete The Selected Area

Once again press Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac) to delete the selected area of the square. Then press Ctrl+D (Win) / Command+D (Mac) to remove the selection outline:

The diagonal section of the square has been deleted.

The square is now just a sliver of its former self.

Step 9: Select The Remaining Part Of The Square

Hold down your Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) key and click directly on Layer 1’s preview thumbnail in the Layers panel:

Clicking on the preview thumbnail for Layer 1.

Hold Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) and click on the preview thumbnail.

This instantly loads a selection outline around the contents of the layer, which in our case is the remaining part of the square:

The remaining part of the square is selected.

A selection outline appears around the black area.

Step 10: Contract The Selection Outline

Just as we did earlier, we need to make this new selection outline smaller. Rather than using Transform Selection though, go up to the Select menu, choose Modify, and then choose Contract:

Go to Select > Modify > Contract.

Go to Select > Modify > Contract.

When the Contract Selection dialog box appears, enter 8 pixels (which will contract the edges of the selection outline by 8 pixels), then click OK to exit out of the dialog box:

The Contract Selection dialog box.

Contract Selection reduces the size of a selection outline by the amount you specify.

The selection outline now appears smaller inside the shape. We’re going to copy this smaller area to a new layer:

The selection outline has been contracted by 8 pixels.

Once again, the selection outline was resized without affecting the pixels inside of it.

Step 11: Copy The Selection To A New Layer

Go up to the Layer menu at the top of the screen, choose New, then choose Layer via Copy:

Go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy.

Go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy.

You can also press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac). Either way copies the selected area to a new layer which Photoshop names “Layer 2”:

Go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy.

The new layer appears above Layer 1.

Step 12: Add A Bevel And Emboss Layer Style

The basic shapes for our photo mount are in place, so let’s give them a little detail and definition. With Layer 2 selected, click on the Layer Styles icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:

The Layer Styles icon in the Layers panel in Photoshop.

Click on the Layer Styles icon.

Choose Bevel and Emboss from the list of layer styles that appears:

Choosing a Bevel and Emboss layer style.

Click on Bevel and Emboss.

This opens Photoshop’s Layer Style dialog box set to the Bevel and Emboss options in the middle column. Change the Style option to Pillow Emboss, then set the Size to 3 px and the Soften amount to 5 px:

The Bevel and Emboss options in the Layer Styles dialog box.

The Bevel and Emboss options.

Click OK when you’re done to close out of the dialog box. The smaller shape now has some subtle highlights around the edges as if it’s embedded within the larger shape:

A Bevel and Emboss layer style has been applied to the smaller shape.

The smaller shape now appears embedded in the larger shape.

Step 13: Copy And Paste The Layer Style Onto Layer 1

Go up to the Layer menu at the top of the screen, choose Layer Style, and then choose Copy Layer Style:

Go to Layer > Layer Style > Copy Layer Style.

Go to Layer > Layer Style > Copy Layer Style.

Click on Layer 1 in the Layers panel to select it:

Selecting Layer 1 in the Layers panel.

Selected layers appear highlighted in blue in the Layers panel.

With Layer 1 selected, go back up to the Layer menu, choose Layer Style once again, and this time, choose Paste Layer Style:

Go to Layer > Layer Style > Paste Layer Style.

Go to Layer > Layer Style > Paste Layer Style.

Step 14: Edit The Layer Style

This adds the exact same Bevel and Emboss layer style from Layer 2 onto Layer 1, complete with all of the same options we set in the Layer Style dialog box. Problem is, we need to make a couple of changes to the settings. Fortunately, Photoshop lets us edit layer styles any time we want. If you look directly below Layer 1 in the Layers panel, you’ll see the Bevel and Emboss style we pasted a moment ago. Double-click directly on its name to re-open the dialog box:

The Bevel and Emboss layer style listed below the layer.

Double-click directly on “Bevel and Emboss” below Layer 1.

When the Layer Style dialog box re-appears, change the Style option from Pillow Emboss to Inner Bevel, then increase the Soften amount to 7 px:

Editing the Bevel and Emboss options in the Layer Styles dialog box.

Layer styles can be edited as many times as we want without affecting image quality.

The larger shape now has subtle highlights similar to the smaller shape. Don’t exit out of the Layer Style dialog box yet. We still have one more to add:

The image after editing the layer style on Layer 1.

The Bevel and Emboss effect is complete.

Step 15: Add A Drop Shadow

With the Layer Style dialog box still open, click directly on the words Drop Shadow at the top of the list of layer styles in the left column. Make sure you click on the words themselves and not in the checkbox to the left of the words, otherwise you won’t get access to the Drop Shadow options:

Selecting Drop Shadow from the left column of the Layer Style dialog box.

Click on the words Drop Shadow in the left column of the Layer Style dialog box.

The Layer Style dialog box will change to show options for the Drop Shadow in the middle column. Uncheck the Use Global Light option and change the Angle of the shadow to -30°. Increase the Distance of the shadow to 5 px, then increase the Size to 10 px:

The Drop Shadow options in the Layer Style dialog box.

The Drop Shadow options.

Click OK to exit out of the dialog box. With the drop shadow added, the photo mount is now complete:

The Drop Shadow has been added to the photo mount.

The completed photo mount.

Step 16: Merge The Two Shapes Onto A New Layer

With Layer 1 selected, hold down your Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) key and click on Layer 2 in the Layers panel. This will select both layers at once (you’ll see them both highlighted in blue):

Selecting both layers at once in the Layers panel.

Hold Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) and click on Layer 2 to select both layers.

With both layers selected, go up to the Layer menu and choose Merge Layers, or press Ctrl+E (Win) / Command+E (Mac) for the keyboard shortcut:

Selecting the Merge Layers command from the Layer menu.

Go to Layer > Merge Layers.

This merges both layers into a single layer above the Background layer in the Layers panel. Photoshop names the merged layer “Layer 2”, but let’s rename it by double-clicking directly on the layer’s name and changing it to “Photo mount”. Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) when you’re done to accept the name change:

The new 'photo mount' layer in the Layers panel.

Rename the merged layer “Photo mount”.

Step 17: Save The Photo Mount

Before we move on to part two of the tutorial, let’s save our photo mount so we can open and use it any time it’s needed. Go up to the File menu at the top of the screen and choose Save As:

Go to File > Save As.

Go to File > Save As.

When the Save As dialog box appears, navigate to the location on your computer where you want to save the file. I’m going to save mine into a folder I have on my desktop named “photoshop files”. Give the file a descriptive name like “photo mount”. Choose Photoshop for the Format option so the document is saved as a Photoshop PSD file and make sure Layers is selected so the individual layers in the document are saved. Click Save when you’re done:

The Save As dialog box in Photoshop.

Save the photo mount as a Photoshop PSD file.

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