HDR Cookbook – Adding a Frame to Your Image

If you want to present your work in the Internet, then many of the views available to people simply show your image on a white background. For many subjects however, a black background is much better as the colors and contrasts are emphasized and the attention is really focused on the image itself. Furthermore, you may like to add information directly to the image. This could be a title, a copyright notice or a signature.

For these purposes, some people choose to create a frame around their pictures. I will show you how to create a frame that consists of a black bar at the top and at the bottom of your image. Many other types of frames are conceivable. But this is the type of frame I use. In general, the frame itself should not by overly fancy. After all, it is the image your viewers should look at, not the frame. A fancy frame tends to distract the viewer.

Requirements and Assumptions

I assume that you completed all other processing steps before you add the frame. You can still make change afterwards, but a number of steps may be uncomfortable with the frame. Most notably, any cropping and perspective correction (rotation etc.) is not possible anymore when the frame is added. So add the frame as the very last step in your process.


Creating a frame requires the following general steps:

  1. Enlarging the canvas to make room for the frame
  2. Adding a black fill layer at the bottom of the layer stack to create the background for the frame
  3. Adding two text layers for the title and copyright notice
  4. For images in portrait orientation, an additional half-transparent area will be created over the bottom part of the image to take the text. Alternatively, this can be created over the top part of the image if the bottom part contains important elements.

A Frame for a Landscape Image

  1. Enlarge the canvas of your image. This creates the room for the frame without affecting your actual image:
    1. In Photoshop, go to “Image > Canvas Size…”.
    2. Set the “Anchor” to the middle field. This means that the canvas will be enlarged equally in all directions.
    3. Change the unit in which the current image canvas size is shown to “pixels”

      Enlarging the canvas height (in this case by 600 pixels – original was 2831)

    4. Depending on your personal preferences, add between 500 and 1000 pixels to the field for the “Height” and click “Ok”. If you have a background layer and it is turned on, then a black bar will occur at the top and at the bottom of the image. If you have no background layer (which is the general case that we assume here), a transparent bar will appear at the top and at the bottom of your image.

      The image with enlarged canvas (extension area at the top and the bottom is transparent))

  2. If the new areas at the top and the bottom of the image are transparent, do the following
    1. Go to “Layers > New Fill Layer > Solid Color…” and set the color of the new layer to black.
    2. Move the new fill layer to the bottom of your layer stack. Now the bars at the top and the bottom turned black.

      Make a new solid black fill layer dragging the color picker to the bottom left

  3. Make a group called “Decoration” and position it at the top of your layer stack. We make this the top layer in order to avoid that any adjustment layer takes effect on the text that will be placed here.
  4. Select the “Decoration” group and choose the Text tool from the tools palette.
  5. Click somewhere in the top black bar and type a title. Choose the font and text color you like. Clicking on the image with the text tool creates a new text layer in the “Decoration” group.
  6. Click somewhere in the bottom bar and add a copyright notice. You may want to choose a somewhat smaller font size for this.
  7. Select both new text layers inside the “Decoration” group and the layer beneath this group in the layer stack: Click on the first text layer, hold the Shift key and click on the layer right beneath the “Decoration” group. It does not matter which layer that is. We just need it for aligning the text.
  8. Now choose “Layers> Align > Horizontal Centers”.
  9. For the vertical alignment, choose the “Move Tool” from the tools palette, select the Title layer in the Layers Palette and use the arrow keys to move the text up or down as necessary. Do the same for the copyright notice.

    Finished image with a frame – the text resides inside the Decoration group

  10. DONE


If you double-click on a text layer, the “Layer Style” dialog opens. Here, you can change the look of your title and copyright text. For example, you can give it a 3D look.

“Layer Style” dialog. Manipulate the look of the text here

A Frame for a Portrait Image

If your image is in portrait orientation, adding frame bars to the top and bottom is not a good idea since it makes the image appear even taller and narrower. You may want to add the black frame bars to the left and right of the image. This is done in a similar way as described above. The only difference is that you change the canvas size in horizontal direction.

However, there is no place for the title and the copyright notice now. You can, of course, write it in vertical orientation. But when you do this, you force the viewer to tilt his head to read it. Personally, I do not like this. Another alternative is to add a half transparent black bar at the bottom of the image to place your title and copyright notice here. This will cover the lowest part of your image, and thus, you should reserve some space (not containing any important contents) here while shooting and/or cropping.

Detailed Process

Here, I assume that you have already created the two black bars at the left and right side of the image.

  1. Make your foreground color black by pressing Ctrl-D and then X.
  2. Select the rectangle tool from the tools palette.
  3. Draw a narrow rectangle (about 300-500 pixels high) that goes from one side of the image to the other. This will create a new layer with this rectangle.
  4. Decrease the opacity of this layer to about 30-60%.
  5. Create text layers for the title and the copyright notice in the same way as I explained above for the landscape frame. Place them over the newly created rectangle and align them (same as for the landscape frame).
  6. DONE
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2 replies
  1. terrence
    terrence says:

    Man this is bogglingly complex, isn’t it easier to ‘flatten’ the image, go to canvas seize, set at inches, put in .2 or 3, choose black, gray or white, and ‘OK’…you are done!

    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:


      thanks for your question! I am sorry to hear that you find this too complex!

      Of course, there are always many ways to achieve the same result. The problem with your suggested solution is that it’s not really that much of a difference to what I suggest. However, the disadvantage is that flattening the image makes it impossible to make any changes to your adjustment layers later. This is not necessary. If you do it the way I suggested, you retain full control over your image.

      I hope this helps.



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