Digital Photography Tutorial – Picture Framing

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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.

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