After spending a long weekend in a frame store one evening with my wife, I can tell you that she's somewhat picky about the frames that she uses for her photos. And while I would rather not browse so long that I need meals and a change of clothes delivered to the store, I too can appreciate that a nice frame, finished in the right color and style, can complement and improve the presentation of a photo.

This week, let's look at some ways you can frame your photos while they're still on the computer screen. As usual, I'll use Corel's Paint Shop Pro, but you can get similar results with your favorite image editing program.

A Simple Border

Let's say that you have a photo like this one, and you'd like to fit it within a virtual frame.

The easiest way to create a frame is to simply surround your photo with a blank area. In Paint Shop Pro, choose Image, Add Borders from the menu and then select the size of the border that you want to add to the image. For a photo this size--about 500 by 800 pixels--I'd try 50 pixels for starters. Enter that number, and make sure the Symmetric check box is selected so the same border will be added to all four sides. Then click in the Color box and select something that suits the photo--I tried a rosy hue. Click OK twice to exit.

As you can see, you can use this technique to create a built-in matte, then print and frame the result. Or you can use this border as a completely digital frame for your photo, even if you never plan to print it.

Change the Border Color

That's cool, but what if you want a different color? You might want to pick a color from within the photo, for instance. To do that, click the Dropper tool (it lives in the fourth cubby from the top of the toolbar that's on the left side of the screen). Hover over the photo, and Dropper shows you the exact color at that point in the image. Move around to find the color you want, and click--that sets the current foreground color.

Next, click the Flood Fill tool (seventh up from the bottom of the toolbar) and click in the border you created. You should see it change to that color.

You can also use two (or more) nested borders, each one with a different color; just apply the Image Add Border effect again and select a new color.

Add a Fancy Picture Frame

Paint Shop Pro has a picture frame tool that you can use to add creative edging effects to your photos. To try it, go back to the original photo, before we added the plain border. Then choose Image, Picture Frame from the menu. You'll see this dialog box.

There are some settings you can experiment with on your own, but for now, just click the little down arrow in the Picture frame box and choose a frame style from the Picture frame menu (I like Edge Circles, but there are several other options) and click OK.

Now you can use the Dropper trick we learned earlier to add some complementary color to the frame. Find a color you like in the image, click on it with the Dropper tool, and then get ready to click in the frame with the Flood Fill tool.

But before you click in the frame, let's make one more tweak. In the Tool Options palette at the top of the screen, reduce the Opacity level from 100 percent to about 50 percent. (If you don't see Tool Options, toggle it on by choosing View, Palettes, Tool Options.) Now click in the frame, and you'll get something like this.

Here's what's cool: If you sample other colors and apply them with low opacity, you can mix colors in the frame for various effects.

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