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Create a Realistic Picture Frame With Photoshop

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In this tutorial we'll create a realistic picture from from scratch in Photoshop.


Step 1

Begin by creating a 1200 x 900 px document. I’m using pixels since this image was designed to be used online. When your document is set up, use the Gradient Tool as shown below.



Step 2

Create a new layer called "Grid." We are going to use this layer to create some guides to help us construct the frame. Go to Filter > Vanishing Point (Cmd/Ctrl + Alt +V).



Step 3

In the Vanishing Point window, select four points to make a rectangular shape that appears in perspective. If it doesn’t look great, you can adjust each of the four handles to your liking. Don’t click OK yet.



Step 4

Adjust the Grid Size so there are several subdivisions. These will eventually help us to keep perspective with the inside portion of the frame. When you have a nice, subdivided shape, click on the Settings and Commands fly out menu and select Render Grids to Photoshop. Click OK when done. These guides are now rendered on the "Grids" layer.



Step 5

Before we start making the frame, we are going to do some prep work. Create three new layers underneath the "Grid" Layer and name them as shown.



Step 6

Find a good quality texture that you want to use as the frame. In this case, I have created my own wood texture. Go ahead and Paste your texture into the three newly created layers. Hide the "Texture" layer; we will use this later.

The "Texture" layer will become our resource layer. Alternatively, you can keep your texture open in a new document instead of creating a "Texture" layer; but for the sake of this tutorial, we will be working within one document. The "Horizontal" and "Vertical" layers will become the horizontal and vertical panels of our frame.



Step 7

Let’s start making the frame. Select the "Vertical" layer and go to Image > Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl + T). Hold the Cmd key while you select the corners of the object and skew the layer to match the grid.



Step 8

Select the "Horizontal" Layer, use Transform (Cmd/Ctrl + T) to rotate the layer 90 degrees (hold the Shift key to incrementally step 15 degrees). Now you can use the Cmd key to skew the layer to match the grid like we did in step seven.



Step 9

Select the "Horizontal" Layer and use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to select top and bottom panels of the frame according to the image below. We will use the guides from the "Grid" layer to help us make our selection. When you’re done, click the Add Layer Mask button in the Layers panel.



Step 10

Now, we want to do the same with the "Vertical" layer, but there is a quicker, and more precise, way. Since we already have a layer mask on the "Horizontal" layer, we can use that to make an accurate selection. Shift-click on the layer mask thumbnail and inverse the selection by pressing Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I.


Now we have a very precise selection of rest of the frame. We only need the left and right panels, so we can go ahead and deselect the center portion of the frame. Using the "Grid" Layer to assist us, use the Polygonal Marquee Tool while holding down Alt to deselect. Make sure you select the "Vertical" layer and click the Add Layer Mask button when done.



Step 11

In this step, we will be using the created masks to clean up the frame. Zoom in to each corner of your frame. When working with layer masks, you need to make sure that you’ve selected the mask you want to edit. When you click on the mask’s thumbnail, it will highlight to let you know that it is selected. Clean up the corners of the frame with the brush tool. (Note: use only the colors black and white—black will hide more of the image while white will show more of the image.)



Step 12

We are now going to create the side of the picture frame. Start by selecting and revealing the "Texture" layer. Now, make a rectangular selection in the texture. Copy and Paste this to a new layer called "Main Side"



Step 13

Open the Levels dialog box (Cmd/Ctrl +L) and adjust them to make this layer darker. Transform (Cmd/Ctrl + T) the layer and use the Ctrl-click technique to skew the layer as shown.



Step 14

To create the inside of the frame, we just follow steps 12 and 13 again: Select a part of the texture in the "Texture" layer, paste it to a new layer called "Inner Side", adjust Levels (Cmd/Ctrl + L) and Transform (Cmd/Ctrl + T) into place. If you need to, use the "Grid" layer as a guide.


Do the same for the top-inside and bottom-inside of the frame.



Step 15

Select the "Vertical" layer and adjust the Levels as shown.


Do the same with the "Horizontal" layer.



Step 16

Next, we are going to add some depth to the texture. To do this, select both the "Horizontal" and "Vertical" layers and press Alt + Shift + E to merge the two layers to a new layer. Desaturate the new layer by pressing Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + U. Use the Levels to make the colors high contrast, then invert the colors by pressing Cmd/Ctrl + I. Next, set the Blending Mode to Screen and the Opacity to 8%. To finish the effect, nudge the layer two pixels down and one pixel right. The change is subtle, but worth it.



Step 17

To add highlights, use the Dodge and Burn tools on the "Horizontal" and "Vertical" layers. Since these layers are separate, we will see some nice effects on the corners of the panels.



Step 18

Use the Burn Tool on the remaining frame layers ("Inner Top", "Inner Side", "Inner Bottom" and "Main Side"). Burn more of the layer as it approaches the corners.



Step 19

We want to create the effect of a glass pane in our picture frame. To begin, create a new layer called "Frame" inside a new group called "Reflection." Make sure to place this at the bottom of the layer stack (above the "Background" layer). Use the Polygonal Marquee Tool to make a selection as shown in the image below. Fill black and set the Opacity to 60%. Add Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur with a setting of 2 px.



Step 20

At this point, we can add our image to the frame. Open any image you want in to a new layer named "Image" (I’m using a sketch I made in Photoshop). Make sure this layer is behind all layers except for the "Background" layer. Trim it down and Transform it into position. It might help to use the "Grid" layer as a guide.



Step 21

We need to adjust the image in the frame to appear more realistic. If you are using a black and white image, like mine, it may help to adjust the Levels first so the image isn’t pure white. Next, open the Layer Styles for the "Image" layer and add an Inner Shadow, Gradient Overlay and Color Overlay. Below are the settings I used, however slightly different settings may be required depending on your image.



Step 22

Now that the image is in the frame, we can add another reflection. Create a new layer called "Window" inside the "Reflection" group. In white, draw a window and whatever else you think may be reflected (I’ve drawn a table, plants, curtains, etc). Transform the layer into perspective and position it in the upper left part of the frame. Set the Blending Mode to Screen and the Opacity to 53%.



Step 23

To add the frame’s stand, create a new layer called "Stand." Use the Polygonal Marquee Tool to make a selection in the shape of a stand and fill it with a dark brown. Use the Burn Tool to darken areas directly behind the frame.



Step 24

To add shadows, begin by creating a new group called "Shadows." Working in this group, create a "Base Shadow" layer and paint a small black line at the point where the frame and stand meet the ground. Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and set it to -12 degrees and a blur of 45 px. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 74%.


Add a new layer called "Ambient." Make another black line along the base of the frame. This line should be a little thicker than the last. Add a Motion Blur with a 7-degree angle and an 80 px blur. Give this a subtle Gaussian Blur and change the Blending Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 86%.


Add a final shadow layer called "Direct." This time, using a dark brown color, roughly draw in a shadow directly under the frame and stand. Add a Motion Blur with a -12 degree angle and a 60 px blur. Give this a Gaussian Blur of 7 px and change the Blending Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 38%.



Final Image

You're Done. For added realism, you can use what you’ve learned to rebuild parts of the frame upside down for the reflection. Be sure to use the correct perspective.


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