Creating PICTURE Frames in Corel Photo-Paint, versions 8+

by David Mutch, © January, 2003

Part 1: Creating a basic Picture Frame.

Most pictures you hang on your walls or are displayed in galleries have Picture Frames. These enhance the display and help direct the eye towards the artwork or photo in the centre of the frame.

Picture frames are inherently different from the digitally created IMAGE FRAME effects we looked at in an earlier tutorial and are generally created out of wood, metal, plaster, card or plastic.

This tutorial shows you the basic steps to create a Picture frame in Corel Photo-Paint, and then provides some suggestions on how to enhance the basic frame to achieve a more realistic or interesting result. Like all of my tutorials, you are strongly encouraged to experiment and develop the techniques further after learning the basics and improve your knowledge on using Photo-Paint in general.

Picture Framing considerations:

You first need to determine the size of the image you need to create your Picture Frame. Here are some considerations.

External measurement: Common Picture frames you purchase often come in fairly regular sizes such as A4, A3, 3.5" x 5", 4" x 6", 5" x 7" and 8" x 10" etc, and often provide a suitable amount of white space around a photograph to enhance the viewing experience without detracting from the actual image within the frame. Large Prints and paintings are often devoid of white space and the edges of the print or painting are sometimes hidden by the frame. The external measurements of the Picture frame need to be sufficient to include the size of the photo or print, any additional white space, and the thickness of the frame itself.

Frame Width (Internal measurement): This is basically the thickness of the frame itself. Wooden frames can sometimes be very wide, while metal and plastic frames are frequently much narrower. Consider the materials you wish to use in your frame.

Single or nested multiple frames and internal frames: Some pictures just have a single frame bordering the matboard which encloses the artwork inside. Others have multiple, nested frames around the outside edge, while some even have a set of frames on the outside, a large flat area of matboard 'whitespace' and then a further inner frame right near the image boundary (an internal frame).

Fig 1. Analysis of a Picture Frame                           


The method described below takes into account all of these factors and allows you to create single or multiple nested frames and even internal frames using simple masks.

In the example below I have started with a Letter sized document to create a frame that can be used to complete the multi-photo image composition described in the previous tutorial.

Creating the basic Picture Frame.

Here we will create a simple frame for the multi-photo composition we created in the previous tutorial. Completion of the previous tutorial is not necessary to undertake the steps here. You can also use these basic steps as a forerunner to the more complex creations described below.

The basic frame comprises four pieces: Top, Bottom, Left and Right. For wooden frames the grain of the wood needs to be aligned to each side. Even many metal and plaster frames display a grain direction and so still need four separate side components. For plastic frames without a grain direction, you could use the initial Full Border frame we create first before it is divided into the four separate sides..


1. Open or create a new image.

If you saved the results of the previous tutorial, open that file again now.

If not, create a new image Letter sized (File > New), choose inches as the measurement type and then choose Letter as the preset image size from the drop-down list, RGB mode, white background, and a resolution of 300 dpi.


2. Create the base outside mask.

First, create a mask of the entire image (remove any currently loaded mask first if necessary) (Mask > Select All or CTRL+A).

Make sure that either the Mask Overlay (Mask > Mask Overlay) or the Mask Marquee (Mask > Mask Marquee or CTRL+H, a toggle) is visible.

Reduce the mask by 150 pixels. (Mask > Shape > Reduce), or (Mask > Mask Outline > Reduce in P-P11).

You image should now look like this: (Fig 2, opposite:)

Invert the mask (Mask > Invert or CTRL+SHIFT+I)

Save this mask as a channel called “Full Border”. (Mask > Save > Save As Channel).


3. Prepare to edit the mask.

Change the Zoom level to 50%.

Then use the scroll bars or the navigator so you can see the top left corner of the image.

This is done so that you will be able to accurately cut up the initial mask to the correct shapes.

Open the Image Info Docker if it isn't displayed already, (Windows > Dockers > Info or CTRL+F1)

Select the Freehand Mask Tool (K)

Change the Mask Mode on the Property Bar to Subtractive.
(Note: This is VERY important. If you miss this final step you may find that step 4 will not work properly)


4. Edit the mask 1: Create the Top/Bottom Edge Mask.
Fig 3.

Refer to the animated diagram opposite (Fig 3).

Start at the top LH corner of the image (watch the Info Docker readout so you know your cursor is positioned at 0,0 first), click once to place a node point in the corner.

Then move the cursor so that a line crosses precisely at the inner top left corner of the mask and past it by about ½ an inch, then click once to set a node point for the Freehand mask.

Move the cursor down to the bottom of the image, allowing the image to scroll down until you can see the bottom of the image. When the cursor is about an inch above the inner corner of the mask at the bottom, click once again to set a node point.

Then move the cursor to the far left hand (LH) side of the image and double-click. Double-clicking completes the subtractive mask creation and removes part of the LH section of the Full Border mask.

Now make sure that you can see the far bottom LH corner of the image and use the Freehand Mask again, still in Subtractive mode, beginning at the bottom LH corner (0, 10.99), click to place an initial node, cross the inner bottom LH corner of the mask and past it by about ½ an inch, click to place another node, then straight across to the far LH edge of the image and double click to complete the subtractive section.

You have now removed the LH side of the mask,
cutting a mitre into each of the top and bottom LH corners.




Repeat the procedure for the right hand side of the image,
creating mitre cuts at the top right and bottom right of the mask








Invert the mask (Mask > Invert or CTRL+SHIFT+I)

and save it as a channel called “TB Border


From the Full Border mask and the Top/Bottom Border mask we have just made, we can now create the left and right border mask.


5. Edit the mask 2: Create the Left/Right Edge Mask.

Remove the current mask (Mask > Remove or CTRL+R)

Change the mask mode to Normal either on the Property bar when a Mask Tool is selected, or from the menu using Mask > Mode > Normal.

Load the Full Border mask (Mask > Load > Full Border).

Change the mask mode to Subtractive (use the Property bar).

Load the TB Border mask (Mask > Load > TB Border).

Loading the TB Border mask in subtractive mode removes its shape from the currently loaded Full Border mask, leaving only the left and right sides with mitre corners abutting those from the TB Border mask precisely.

Change the mask mode back to Normal.

Then save the mask as a channel called "LR Border".

We now have three masks saved as channels: the Full Border mask, the Top/Bottom Border mask, and the Left/Right Border mask. Now is a good time to save your image in Photo-Paint (CPT) format so you retain all the saved channel masks within the image file.


We can now start to fill the borders with our favourite fill/s.

I'll show you how to create both a wood frame using a Bitmap Fill and also a Metal frame using a Fountain Fill. The Fountain Filled 'metal' border can also be 'merged' with the wood border to give it a feeling of depth.

Later can replace the wood and fountain fills I use with almost anything else you like to create your own unique frame materials.



6. Filling the Masks: Create the Wooden Frame.

With the LR Border mask loaded, switch the mask visualisation method from Overlay to Marquee (both are toggle commands at the bottom of the Mask menu, or use the icons on the Mask/Object Toolbar).

Fig 8.

From menu choose Edit > Fill.

Choose the Bitmap Fill type and then press Edit. The Bitmap Fill dialogue box appears.

From the Thumbnail preview drop down list choose one of the nice wood fills near the bottom of the list or you can click the Load button, navigate to CD#3 of your Corel Draw Suite disks and look in the Tiles \ Wood folder for additional wood tiles. (Fig 8)

After selecting a tile, uncheck the “Use Original Size” checkbox in the Size section of the Bitmap Fill dialogue, and check the “Maintain Aspect” checkbox.

Change the width to 3 inches. The reason we are doing this (increasing the size of the tile) is that we are dealing with fairly large image at 300 dpi and if left at the default setting the tile may appear too small with a very obvious repeat to it.

Change the Rotate amount in the Transform section to 90 degrees.

Click OK twice to fill the left and right sides of the frame.


Remove the current mask then load the TB Border mask (in Normal Mode).

Repeat the Fill procedure but change the Rotate amount back to 0 degrees.


Remove the mask then change the Zoom level to 100% and look at the mitre corners of your border. They should be joined precisely. If you view the Object's marquee, you will see that the object comprises just the border with an empty (transparent) area in the middle of it.

Now we will create another border object and use it to give the wood frame an appearance of depth. It is this second border that you could use separately as a metal frame if you wished to rather than the wooden one. The creation of this second border object is different from the first in two ways:

- it uses a custom fountain fill rather than the previous wood bitmap fill
- each of the four sides must be filled separately as the fill is asymmetric and must be oriented correctly for each side.



7. Create the Metal Frame Fountain Fill.

Create a new object (Object > Create > Create New Object, or use the icon at the bottom of the Object Docker)

and rename the new object “Metal Frame”.

Make the previously created wood frame invisible by clicking the 'eye' visibility icon beside this object in the Object Docker. Make sure that the new (still visible) object is active (selected) in the Object Docker.

Basically, we need to repeat steps 18 to 22, but with some changes to accommodate the two differences described just above. Because of these changes, don't repeat the steps now as I will describe each one again with the appropriate changes.

The custom Fountain Fill we create needs to be saved as a Preset so it can be reused on all four sides.

To create this fill, either use Edit > Fill from the menu or double-click the Fill swatch on the status bar (now below the Toolbox in Photo-Paint 11).

Fig 11.

Choose Fountain Fill as the type then press Edit.

The Fountain Fill dialogue box appears. Set up the gradient as follows:

   Type = Linear
   Angle = 0
   Color Blend = Custom
   0% position = 70% black
   100% position = 70% black
   32% position = white

Type a name for the new Fountain Fill into the Presets text entry area and press the + button to save it as a preset.

I often name my presets “AAA- something” so that they always appear at the top of the presets list which is in alphabetical order.

This helps me find my custom presets quickly and easily. (Fig 11)

This fill is now ready to be used on the left hand frame section.


8. Create the Metal Frame.
Fig 12.
Fig 13.
Fig 14.

Make sure no mask is current and that the mask mode is set to Normal, then load the LR Border mask

Choose the Fill (Bucket) Tool

and click inside the LEFT HAND side of the mask area (Fig 12) to fill that side.


Now we need to rotate the fill by 180 degrees.

Double click the Fill swatch in the status bar (or below the Toolbox in P-P 11) then click the Edit button on the Select Fill dialogue box. Change the Angle of the Fountain Fill to 180 degrees, then click OK twice.

With the Fill (bucket) tool, click inside the RIGHT HAND side of the mask. (Fig 13).


Now load the TB Border mask. As you should still be in Normal Mask Mode, the TB Border mask will relace the LR Border mask. If you get either both masks together or an inverted mask, then somehow the mask mode was changed and you need to remove the current mask, make sure the mask mode is set to Normal and then load the TB mask properly.

Double-click the Fill swatch again, click Edit and change the Angle to 90 degrees. Click OK twice to change the fill to the new angle.

Click inside the BOTTOM mask area to fill the bottom with the rotated fill.

In a similar manner, change the Fill angle to -90 degrees and the fill the Top masked area.

Remove the mask (CTRL+R). The result should look like Fig 14.

In the Object Docker, make the wood border visible again, and change the Merge Mode of the Fountain filled border to Multiply. (Figs 15a, 15b).

Figs 15a, 15b.


Now we have completed the basic wooden or metal Picture Frame.

If you created this Picture Frame on the same multi-photo image we created in the previous tutorial, or if you copied and pasted the two Picture frame objects you created separately here onto that image, your result should look like Fig 16.

Fig 16.



If the photos and the border overlap, you will need to delete the matboard section, reposition both the cutout objects and the photos, then recreate the matboard from the shapes of the repositioned cutouts.

Now procedure to Part Two of the Picture Frame tutorial, Enhancing your Picture Frame by adding multiple outer frames , inner borders, and using decorative Matboard.


Fun With Photos #2
Intro Simple Borders Frame Effects Multi Photo Picture Frames
Series Intro


Polaroids Intro, Single Frame, background object Multi frame, background object Frames with floating objects Create your own Frame Photo Displays Basic Picture Frame Enhanced Picture Frame

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