Adobe® Photoshop® Elements Tutorial

Mats, Mats, Mats!

By Jenny Binder

Week of July 28, 2008

Scrapper's Guide

There are many different ways to create mats in Photoshop Elements. You can use the marquee tool, the shape tool, the cookie cutter tool, and many more. Which one is right? The one that works for you! Let me show you one way I create mats. This method works especially well if you have altered your photo in a way that makes the “usual” mat-making-process more difficult, such as if you have rotated the photo slightly, rounded the corners, or cut it into a different shape.

Here I’m in the middle of creating my page. My photo was rotated several steps back and now I want to put a couple of mats behind it that are on the same rotation as the photo. Here’s how I would tackle this problem.

Step 1) Duplicate the photo layer

Make sure your photo layer is the active layer in the layers palette. Press Ctr J (Mac: Cmd J) to duplicate this layer. This new layer will eventually become our mat.

Step 2) Fill duplicate photo with color

At the bottom of the tool bar, make sure your foreground color chip (the top one) is the color you want your mat to be. If it is not, click on the chip, and select the color of your choice.

Press Alt + Shift + Backspace (Mac: Opt + Shift + Delete) to fill the duplicate photo with your foreground color. (Any transparent area on this layer should be left transparent.)

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Step 3) Move mat under photo

In the Layers palette drag this mat layer down one layer so that it is just under the original photo layer. Now the mat is hidden behind your photo.

Step 4) Transform mat

Press Ctr T (Mac: Cmd T) to get a transform outline around the mat. Press and hold the Alt key (Mac: Option key) while you drag a corner handle out to make your mat the desired size. Make sure you release the mouse before you release the Alt (Mac: Option) key. Click the check mark to accept the transform. Apply a drop shadow and now you have a mat that is the same shape and rotation as your photo.

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Speaking of drop shadows, that is another advantage to using this method to create mats. Back in step 1 when you duplicated the photo layer, whatever layer styles were applied to the photo layer (such as a drop shadow) were also applied to the mat.

Creating Mats

Additional Mats

You can repeat these steps for any additional mats. Here I’ve added one more mat and grouped a dark brown patterned paper with it, then I finished my page. Did you notice any additional mats than the two I just created? This photo actually has four mats. Mats can vary in size, position, rotation, and color. Now, let’s see what you can create with mats! Post your layouts to the July Tip of the Week Gallery. (And check out my page, “Oops”, for my early cloning experience Linda referred to in the July 10th newsletter.)


Tutorial by Jenny Binder,
Page by Jenny Binder. All items used are from this month's Premier kit, English Garden. Font is PegsannaHMK.


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