My internet connection is having issues and is too slow for doing much on Second Life at the moment, but I’ve still been able to work on some graphics projects. Here’s a little tutorial to help you add a realistic looking matte to a picture. Click on the thumbnail images to see the work in progress.
First choose the picture and add a new raster layer to the top of it, by selecting Layer > New Raster Layer from the top menu. The default settings, as shown here, are fine. Fill this entire layer all in black.
Now we want to delete most of this black except for a slight shadow round the edge. Hit Ctrl-a to “Select All” then on the Selections menu go to Modify > Contract. The amount will depend on the size of the image but it doesn’t want to be much. On this 1600×1200 picture, I contracted the selection by only 10.
Now go back to Selections > Modify and this time choose Feather. This will expand your selection again but make it blurry. Whatever number you picked above, double it. So I feathered this by 20. Now you can just hit that delete button, and voila. Most of the black disappears except for a shadow around the edge.
Now we’re going to add the cut white edge of the matte which shows closest to the picture. (Mattes are cut at a 45 degree angle so you can see the white all the way around). Go to Image > Canvas Size, and increase the image size by 20 all round, using a beige-ish colour. Not too light – we’ll lighten it in a moment with a texture. This will add the border to the bottom layer but we want to promote it to a layer of its own. So, select it with the Magic Wand, copy with ctrl-c and paste to a new layer using ctrl-l. Move this layer to the top (Layers > Arrange > Bring to top) if it’s not there already. Keep it selected.
Now go to your colour-picker and choose a lighter, almost-white tone of the same beige hue you used before. Also select a texture pre-set: I chose Paper Coarse. Make sure the texture button is on – this is the middle one of the three buttons beneath your chosen colour in the colour picker window. Now, making sure that the top layer is selected, fill this area with the lighter beige.
Next, we work on the main body of the matte. First, use the dropper to sellect a dark colour from your picture. I’ve chosen a dark red from the umbrella – I think this will complement the tone and hues of the image as a whole. Again we’re going darker than we really want, because we’re going to lighten it with texture again later.
Again increase the Canvas Size, this time by about 150 pixels on each side. As before, it will add this border to the background layer but we want to promote it to its own new layer just as we did before. So, select it with magic wand, crtl-c and ctrl-l and move this new layer to the top again. Keep it selected. You should now be working on this top layer.
Go to your colour picker and select a slightly lighter shade of the same red hue, make sure the texture button is still on, with your Paper Coarse preset, and fill in the whole red area to lighten it and give it texture. It looks good – but we’re not finished yet.
We’re now going to work on just the matte, to add some more shading and solidity to it. First you need to make the bottom two layers invisible, that’s the image itself and the shadow. Do this by clicking on the eye in the Layers panel on the right. Now you should have only two layers visible: the white edge and the red border. Go to Layers > Merge > Merge Visible to merge these two layers together.
Working on this new merged layer only, go to Effects > 3D Effects > Inner bevel. This is the dialog box that opens up. You’ll want to change the settings to those shown here. You may wish to play around with Ambience and Intensity to affect how light or dark the matte goes. Hit OK when ready.
Save it, but before you close it, there’s something else you can do. Delete the bottom layer only (your picture), leaving the shadow and matte. Save these as a new PSP file with a name like “matte” or something like that. This means that you will always have a blank one, that you can simply overlay on top of any image.