Monday, January 31, 2011

Digi Tip January 2011: Round Corners on Photos and Mats

Hi!  Welcome to a new regular feature for Ideas at Scrapbookers.  Each month on the last Monday of the month, we will be sharing a digi-tip for scrapbookers and crafters.

If you've done paper scrapping, you know you can just pick up a corner rounder tool and snip the corners on your photos and mats. But just how do you do that in the digi world? Today I'm showing you how to round the corners on your photos or mats in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Let's get started!

Now as with many software programs, in Photoshop and PS Elements, there is more than one way to do things. So by no means am I saying that this way is the only way! If you know a different way and it's comfortable for you, keep using it.

Let's start by opening a 300 pixel/inch document. I'm working in a 12x12" document cause that's what size I scrapbook. Yours can be whatever size you like.
Press the letter D on your keyboard, this will set the Foreground/Background colors to the default black/white.  Now click on the Rounded Rectangle Tool, it's in with the Rectangle Tool, so you may have to reveal it by clicking and holding on the Rectangle Tool or right-click to reveal the hidden tools.
At the top of your screen set your choices in the Options Bar: Select the "Shape Layers" icon (Photoshop only) and the "Create New Shape Layer" icon. Then adjust the radius.  The lower the number that you use, the sharper the corners will be.  The larger the number the more rounded the corners will be. Then click and drag to create the rectangle you want for your mat.  If you hold the shift key while you drag the rectangle shape tool, it will create a square. I've created the rectangle on the left with a radius of 30 and the one on the right with a radius of 60 to help show the difference in the rounded corners.
 These shapes are going to be the mats beneath our photos.  Now we need a place to put our photos.

To create a place to drop our photos and have them rounded as well, Ctrl-click on the thumbnail of the shape in the layers panel.  This will place a selection (marching ants) around the shape.

Choose Select>Modify>Contract from the menu. A window pops up and you will type in the number of pixels you would like to contract (shrink) your selection by.  I used 30 pixels in my example. This means there will be a 30 pixel width mat visible around my photos.

Now click the New Layer icon in the Layers panel to create a new layer above the mat shape. Select Edit>Fill Selection to activate the Fill dialog. Choose a fill color and click OK. Press Ctrl D to remove the selection.
You now have separate layers that you can use as clipping masks to "glue" your mat paper and photo to.  Simply open the digital paper that you want to use for your mat and drag it on to your project as a new layer above the mat shape.
Click on the paper layer (that you just dragged over) to make sure it is active. Then position your mouse in the layers panel on the line between the paper layer and the mat layer, press and hold the Alt key, you'll see the mouse cursor change to a symbol of intersecting circles, click and you will "clip" the paper layer to the mat shape.  Drag your photo on to the project above your photo placeholder layer and repeat the clipping process.  Your layers will look like the above image.

By placing your mat and photo on separate layers in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, it allows you the freedom to apply layer styles individually to each layer.  In my example above, I have given drop shadows to the mat and photo on the right sample.  I gave the mat a deeper shadow than the photo.

Join me next month for another Digi-tip.  If there are any Photoshop or Photoshop Elements techniques that you would like to see featured in the monthly Digi-tips, please email me at:


  1. I had no idea how to do this, thank you, Cathy!!

  2. Great tutorial Cathy! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  3. Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [01 Feb 12:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria

  4. awesome tutorial! very detailed! thanks!