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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Making A Faux Mat

For odd shapes or oversized prints, a mat can be very expensive. Try this technique to create a good-looking alternative.

A few years ago, I put together a large exhibition of work for the benefit of an environmental cause. The prints ranged in size from 16x20 to panoramas as long as eight feet. Traditional matting and framing of the exhibition would have cost many thousands of dollars. Seeking a cost-effective presentation, I devised a method to add the illusion of a single inset mat directly into each print, a technique Kathy named “the faux mat.”

The faux mat technique is extremely useful when mounting very large pieces, such as very long panoramas, where traditional matting, framing and glass would be prohibitively expensive and very heavy. The inclusion of the faux mat adds a finished look to this economical presentation. For smaller framed images under glass, the illusion of the mat technique is even more effective, but you need to be sure the surface of the print doesn’t touch the glass. Small spacers may be necessary.

Here’s how to create my faux mat in Photoshop.

First, border the image with a fine stroke:
1. Open an optimized image in Photoshop.
2. Select Layer > New > Layer, and click OK.
3. Once the empty layer is highlighted, click on
Select > All. Marching ants should border the image.
4. Select Edit > Stroke and the Stroke menu will appear. Enter the width in pixels you want to use to create a defining line around the image. I recommend one or two pixels. Right-click the Color box and select the color of the stroke from the options offered. I recommend black. Click OK in the Select Stroke Color menu.
5. In the Stroke menu under Location, select Inside. Leave Blending selections at the default (Mode: Normal; Opacity: 100%; and Preserve Transparency unchecked). Click OK.
6. Key Control D (Win) or Command D (Mac) to deselect the image and remove the ants. You’ve now created a stroke bordering the inside of the image.


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