How to Create Simple but Beautiful Borders in Photoshop

How to Create Simple but Beautiful Borders in Photoshop

Simplicity is perfect, and for most of time I agree with that. Things do not have to be complicated in order to be nice and beautiful. Today we are going to create simple but beautiful borders in Photoshop without much complications. In fact, I will show you how you can create on your own this kind of borders and provide you with actions and styles which will do the job for you. You can use actions and styles in personal and commercial projects as and everything else listed in freebies section.

Download Simple Beautiful Borders Styles and Actions.

Creating Simple but beautiful Stroke borders

There are many ways to create the exact same effect I will show you. In this tutorial I will explain in details one way of creating double stroked borders and give you an idea how to use somehow hidden Stroke option to achieve same effect using Gradient. The second method has more flexibility and that's why I will provide you ready made styles which you can apply and manipulate. Let's see how to create effect using Canvas Size and Stroke.

Step 1: Convert Background Layer to Regular
I will assume that you have an open image with Background layer only. Since we are going to create two layers for final effect and we need transparency, requirement is to have regular layer. Reason is that Canvas Size dialog will expand the canvas to transparency when the image does not have Background layer. Click once on padlock icon (Photoshop CC) or twice in previous versions to unlock layer.
Convert Background layer to regular in Photoshop

Step 2: Expand Canvas Size
I will work with image 1200px wide. In case you are working with bigger image, then add to values I will mention. If you are working with smaller images, you can guess: use smaller values. So, go to Image > Canvas Size. Check Relative option and type same number of pixels in both fields: Width and Height. I will type value of 40 what means add 20px on each of 4 sides. We are going to work with pixels, so ensure that on the right side of text field you have Pixels selected.
Expand canvas in Canvas Size dialog

Step 3: Create layer below image
Next step is to create layer below image using Ctrl/Cmd + click on Create a new layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Step 4: Fill layer below image with solid color

Fourth step is to fill blank layer below image with solid color: White from Edit > Fill.
Fill layer below image with solid color

Step 5: Add Stroke effect
Now that you have layer below image filled with white color go to Layer > Layer Style > Stroke. In Layer Style dialog, set Stroke Size to 2px and Position to Inside. Color should be Black.
Apply Stroke effect to layer below layer with image

Step 6: Expand Canvas Size one more time
It is time now to expand canvas one more time, but this time use greater value. With the Relative option checked, I am going to type 160 in both fields: Width and Height. Pixels are set as measurement unit on the right side of numbers.
Expand canvas size from Canvas Size dialog

Step 7: Add another layer at the bottom of composition
Now we need one more layer at the bottom of the composition. With Layer 1 (default naming convention) selected, hold down Ctrl/Cmd and click Create a new layer (page icon) at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Step 8: Fill bottom most layer with white color
Do the same as for previous blank layer created, go to Edit > Fill and choose White from Use drop-down.

Step 9: Add Stroke effect to bottom most layer
Now we need Stroke to complete task. Go to Layer > Layer Style > Stroke and set Size to 20px for example, Position to Inside and color should be Black.
Apply Stroke Effect to the second layer below layer with image

Step 10: We are done
Optionally, you can add Pattern Overlay effect to any or both of the layers with Stroke. I like to use color paper patterns and various textures which are available with Photoshop installation but also lives in Filter > Filter Gallery > Texture.
Layers view with beautiful borders final effect

Same beautiful borders using Stroke set to Gradient

I won't be very detailed with this method but rather I will give you an idea how to create effect. For this method you will need only one(1) layer below the layer with image filled with solid color. Go to Layer > Layer Style > Stroke and set following settings:

Size: big size, value typed for Width and Height in Canvas Size divided by 2.
Position: Inside
Fill Type: Gradient Black, White
Style: Shape Burst
Settings when using gradient for Stroke effect

Click on the gradient rectangle to open Gradient Editor dialog and create custom gradient. Left side of the gradient will create stroke on the edge and should be bigger. Move white color stop to the left and Black color stop to the right. Position both color stops very close each to other.

Add four(4) more color stops and choose for side stops White color. Inside stops should be Black color. Space between stops is required in the middle, between two black stops while white, side color stops should be very close to inside stops. Hopefully screenshot below is worth more for you to understand what I am trying to explain.
Create custom gradient for border effect

How to use Styles

First, you need to load styles in Photoshop in order to start using them. I will suggest you to create a layer below image filled with color as explained in this tutorial, with canvas size expanded (steps 1-4). Instead of setting smaller then greater value to expand the canvas incrementally, go straight to 200px or above for both: Width and Height in Canvas Size dialog. Apply any of provided styles and you have an effect.
Apply simple but beautiful borders layer style

If you want to use flexibility with Stroke set to Gradient or to change final effect, play with stroke size. Double click the word Stroke below layer and drag Size slider to the left and to the right to see the difference.
Change stroke Width with style applied

How to use actions

Actions also needs to be loaded in Photoshop and here is tutorial available on my blog. There are two actions: Double Black Border and Custom Border. The first action will expand the canvas in total for 100px and you should use it for small images. After playing action you can change Stroke size applied to both layers below image.

Note: action will duplicate opened image without to close it and will flatten it if you have layered file. The second action will open several dialogs where you can set twice size to expand the canvas and size of stroke. In other words second action is automated tutorial above.

So, in first Canvas Size dialog, set smaller value and smaller stroke Size in the following dialog which will open (steps 2 and 5 in the tutorial above). That will be first layer below the image with smaller stroke, at least that's how I am suggesting you to create this effect.

In a second Canvas Size and Layer Style dialogs type greater values. For starters use values from steps 6 and 9.

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