The Digital Darkroom
Making Digital Mattes In Photoshop; Adding Borders And Accents To Enhance Your Image

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In the old days we all used to keep tons of different colored matte board in stock to matte our photos. Or, we used the guy down the street who charged us plenty for those fancy mattes that we loved so much. Well, today you can do it all in Adobe's Photoshop. This article will give you the basics of creating an oval double matte in Photoshop.

1. I started with a nice landscape (horizontal) image that just cried out for an oval matte.

Next, I went to View to Show to Grid. The default grid that came up wasn't quite fine enough, so I then went to Edit to Preferences to Guides, Grid & Slices. I wanted to set the grid to a relatively fine pattern. So, I set a Gridline every 1" with six subdivisions.

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Photos © 2004, Darryl C. Nicholas, All Rights Reserved

After that it was time to get the Oval Selection tool. Now, here is the tricky part and I'm sorry that I don't have a screen capture to show this to you, so pay close attention to the instructions. After you "select" the Oval tool, place your cursor in the upper left-hand corner and look carefully at the grid intersection lines. In your mind, imagine a diagonal line drawn from the upper left corner to the lower right corner. Now, along this imaginary diagonal line, count grid intersections as you move away from the upper left corner of the picture. In my case, I counted three intersections and then placed the cursor cross hairs at that third intersection. Holding down the mouse button, I then dragged the cursor to the lower right corner and stopped dragging it with the cursor cross hairs centered on the third grid intersection from the lower right corner. Then, let loose of the mouse button and you will have created an oval selection.

2. Just to review: Drag the Oval Selection tool from the third grid intersection in the upper left corner to the third grid intersection in the lower right corner. By using the grid intersection points, you can create a very nice, true, oval.
Having created the selection, I went to Select to Inverse to invert the selection. Next, I wanted to get a nice gold color to fill the selection. So, I went to the Color palette and selected R: 255; G: 209; and B:0.

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3. Then, I went to Edit to Fill and used 100 percent to fill the selected area with gold color. After that, I deselected the oval selection by going to Select to Deselect.

Now it was time to create the second matte. So, it was time to create another oval selection. I went back, got the Oval Selection tool and this time instead of placing the cursor in the third grid intersection from the upper left corner, I placed the cursor in the second grid intersection and dragged it to the second grid intersection in the lower right corner. This will create an oval selection just slightly larger than the first oval. This second oval will be exactly the same distance from the first oval all the way around.

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And, that bit of magic is the direct result of using the grid pattern overlay to allow you to establish the starting and ending points when drawing the oval selections.

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