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Digital Photography Tutorial - Picture Framing review




This is a bit of an unusual tutorial for a gadget-themed website like TR, since it's not really about photography or image editing, nor even much about printing, but several people both in the comments and emails have requested a guide to picture framing, so I'm happy to don my Blue Peter badge and oblige. A well framed photograph makes an attractive and distinctive decoration for any room, and also makes an excellent personal but low-cost gift, which with Christmas looming over the horizon, and many of us still feeling the pinch of the recession, is as good a reason as any.

Although there are many types of picture frame, the most common choices for home framing are simple wood-beaded glass frames with removable backboards, or the beadless clip-frames, which are just a backboard, a sheet of glass and some metal clips. Both are easy to use, although of course you should always take appropriate care when handling fragile glass. Always lay the glass flat on a surface when you're not using it, and don't try this if you've got kids running around.

As well as a frame, you'll need some mat card, or mountboard as it is also known. You can buy this in large A1-sized sheets at any art supply shop for a couple of pounds, usually in a very wide range of colours. Of course the colour that you choose is up to you, maybe you want it to match the curtains, but for displaying photos to their best effect I'd suggest using plain poster black one-sided board. It doesn't distract the attention away from the picture, and it produces the best effect with a bevel-cut edge. Other tools you will need include a sharp pencil, a craft knife or scalpel, some sticky tape, a kitchen cutting board and a metal ruler. Please don't try to cut along the edge of a plastic ruler, because you will most likely lose a finger, and that may hurt.

It is possible to bevel-cut a mat card with nothing more than a craft knife and a ruler, but it's far easier with a purpose-built bevel mat cutter. If you plan on framing quite a few prints it's worth investing in one. There are some professional bevel cutting tools involving rails and rollers that cost upwards of £60, but you should be able to find a small hand-held cutter such as this model by Logan for around £10-12. It's basically just an angled wedge of metal with a clamp that holds a craft knife blade, but with the help of a metal ruler and a bit of effort it will do a perfectly good job.

Ptit Ben

October 12, 2009, 7:57 am

Thanks for the tips!

I just ordered a few prints and I was wondering about the framing. This tutorial is going to be handy (I'll let you know if it's possible to do it while wearing gauntlets ;-) )

Tony Gentry

October 12, 2009, 8:11 am

Would this be a good time to ask for a review of the various LCD photoframes available?


October 12, 2009, 5:05 pm

How about supplementing this with a page on how to create such borders, including 3d bevel cut edge effects, using Photoshop and adding them to an image to be printed?


October 12, 2009, 5:42 pm

Thanks Cliff, this was just what I was looking for :)


October 12, 2009, 11:29 pm

Great article, but I'd appreciate some help on size. Am I right in thinking that if I have an A4 picture that I'd like a border around, I'll need to buy a frame a couple of inches bigger than A4? Or do frame sizes already assume a border?

Steve Ayres

October 14, 2009, 1:00 pm

Excellent examples/tutorial. Framing and displaying hard copy in general is something of a lost art, so great to see something like this.

@Marco - It all depends on how you want to show your final image to be honest. In Cliff's example he has mounted the image in a cardboard mount as well as a frame. This not only looks very nice and neat, but means that you have the option of mounting virtually any actual print size into any frame size (assuming the frame is a little bit bigger of course). This avoids expensive bespoke frames and allows for buying standard sizes from Ikea/Habitat etc etc.

The internal dimensions of the frame need to be the same as the external dimensions of the mount. As regards the actual print then this needs to be at least a little bigger than the hole in the mount, as there needs to be at least a little overlap. Hope that may help at least a little?

Daniel J. Ferro

October 16, 2009, 8:46 pm

Cliff: Can you help us find alternative framing ideas that are inexpensive, yet attractive and innovative? Perhaps an idea that uses mat board only, .....I wish to create a photo/picture wall with something other than ordinary framing.

John Shewsbury

October 19, 2009, 7:33 am

Dear Cliff and Trusted Review, it's nice to have this kind of articles once a while... I would consider this as free "consumer/customer education program" .... look forward for more of such articles in the future... all the best.

Cliff Smith

October 20, 2009, 7:12 pm

Tony - Yes it would. We've already done several, and I'm trying to get some Sony frames in at the moment.

NickP - If I can think of a way of doing that which doesn't look horrible I'll givie it a try.

Marko - An A4 frame is the same size as A4 paper, so if you have an A4 print you'll need a slightly bigger frame to leave a border.

Daniel - Something I once tried for a presentation was to take a picture of a strip of slide film complete with sprocket holes, then enlarge the picture in photoshop up to the width of A4 paper, replace the pictures on the film with the pictures for the presentation, and then print it out on a series of A4 sheets. When stuck together in a row it looked like a giant strip of slide film.

John - I've written a lot of tutorials which you may enjoy, but they can be a bit hard to find on TR's index. I've put a separate index on my own site at www.cliffsmith.co.uk. Click on the Tutorials link at the top of the page.

Photo Framing London

January 30, 2014, 5:55 am

Excellent tips. Really useful stuff .

Framing cambridge

March 7, 2014, 7:17 pm

Please don't try to cut along the edge of a plastic ruler, because you will most likely lose a finger, and that may hurt.

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