• How to Add Photos and Shadows to Vintage Frames in Photoshop and PSE

    There are numerous frame sets at Designer Digitals which give a finished look to photos on your scrapbook pages. Many of the frames are designed with custom shadows. Some sets like some of Katie Pertiet's Vintage Photo Frames are delivered as PNG frames without shadows. These images are single-layer frames with a transparent "window". You can slip your photo behind the window so that the picture shows through.

    Once the photo is in place, you'll want to add a drop shadow to the framed photo so that it looks like it is attached to the page with the light casting a slight shadow. This makes your project look more realistic and dimensional. But you'll also want to make sure that the photo looks like it's actually printed on the vintage paper of these frames, not glued under it.

    Here's one way to do both:

    • In Photoshop or PSE, begin by opening a photo and a digital frame. Use a flat PNG frame with no shadow to play along. For the sample, Iím using one of Katie Pertiet's Vintage Photo Frames No. 49.
    • Start by making a copy of the frame so you donít accidentally overwrite it. Select the frame document and choose Image > Duplicate from the Menu Bar. In PSE, choose File > Duplicate. This opens the Duplicate Image dialog. The software automatically gives the new image the same name as the original with "Copy" added to the ending. You can save this or give the document a new name and then click OK.
    • Now close the original so that you are only working with the copy.
    • Next, target your photo and drag it onto the frame copy using the Move tool. In the Layers panel, drag the photo layer under the frame layer.
    • Resize and reposition the photo to make it fit into the frame. Target the photo layer and press Ctrl T (Mac: Cmd T) to get the Transform controls. Once you see the bounding box surrounding the photo, you can drag the corner to resize the image. Note: If your image is becoming distorted as you drag, undo and hold the Shift key as you drag. Some versions of the software require the Shift and others do not in order to maintain the original aspect ratio. Tick the checkmark to confirm the change after resizing.
    • Note: If you still have excess photo sticking out behind the frame, refer to our tip on How to Use Torn and Ripped Photo Frames to non-destructively mask out the portions of the photo you don't need.
    • Now you'll want to add that shadow to make the frame look like it's glued to the background. If you add a shadow the photo layer, it doesn't show up behind the frame. And if you add a shadow to the frame itself, your photo looks like itís stuck behind instead of printed on the vintage paper with a border around it. So the problem is how to get the shadow around the frame without getting it inside the frame. Like most things Photoshop, there are several ways to accomplish this.
    • One way is to hold the Ctrl key (Mac: Cmd) and click both the frame and the photo layer in the layers panel. With both selected, press Ctrl E (Mac: Cmd E) on the keyboard. This merges the two layers.
    • Placing a drop-shadow on this new merged layer gives you the effect you are going for Ė it places a shadow around the framed image. To add the shadow, just double-click the composite layer outside of the layer name to bring up the layer styles dialog. Under fx, choose Drop Shadow and tweak the shadow settings. Or go to Window > Styles to apply an installed, purchased shadow style to the layer. In PSE, go to Window > Styles and choose Drop Shadow or the name of a purchased shadow set from the Layer Styles drop-down menu. Click the shadow you want to use. Use the Move tool to drag the merged layer onto your scrapbook page either before or after applying the shadow.


    Youíll be able to get the vintage look you want using this technique. Check back for another method in our next Quick Tip.