When it comes to Christmas gifts that have a real personal touch, ones that your friends and family can cherish every day, a framed print of a special photo is hard to beat. Our pals at N-Photo photography magazine recently showed us just how easy it can be to frame your own photos, and we hope you find this step-by-step guide as inspiring as we did!
Getting a perfectly framed photo isn’t as hard as you think – with the right tools and a bit of practice it’s easy to learn how to resize a photograph, choose the right frame to match it and cut a mount board border to fit.
What you need for framing photos
Frame: If you’re not sure what colour frame to choose then it’s best to play safe and pick a neutral colour and simple style, especially if you can't quite remember the colour scheme of your friend / family member's interior! If you're good at DIY, you could even try making your own frame, or maybe upcycle one from your local thrift store, charity shop or flea market.
Mount board: This thick card is used to create a border around artwork inside the frame, and is available in lots of different colours, thicknesses and sizes.
Picture framing tape: This acid-free tape will protect your prints in the frame from discolouration over time. A great tip is to tape your print in place at the top of the frame only, so that it hangs flat.
Bevel cutter: This ruler and bevel cutter allows you to align the ruler with the straight line you’re cutting, then slot the bevel cutter onto its rim and cut away from you for a perfect 45° straight cut.
Cutting board: Available from craft shops in different sizes, this spongy blue board is ideal for protecting your work surface from the bevel cutter. If you haven’t got a cutting board, some very thick cardboard will do at a pinch.
Enlarged photo print: Print your chosen photo in a larger size yourself or get a photography service to do it for you. Make sure that your enlarged print is significantly smaller than your frame, or you’ll lose the edges of your shot when you add a mount board border.
Step by step how to frame a photo
1. Choose a photo & get it enlarged: Think about what photo you’d like to frame. Portraits and candid family shots look great, or go for a striking landscape or an elegant monochrome cityscape. Make sure you have a high-resolution version of the image you want to use, so that it won’t lose any quality when it’s enlarged.
Plan what size you’d like your finished artwork to be. Smaller sized frames are easy to wrap up, but big enlarged prints like our A3 photo make more of an impact. The easiest option is to use a camera shop or online service.
2. Choose your frame carefully: Pick a frame colour that will complement your photo – black and white wood are failsafe choices. Choose a frame that’s a bigger size than your enlarged photo. Our print is A3, so we’ve chosen an A2 frame, to give us lots of space for a border inside the frame.
3. Measure your mount board: We’ve chosen a cream A2 mount board so that we can cut the border size we’d like. Trace out the rectangle you want to cut out by first marking the exact size of your photo on the back of the board. Now, measure in the width of the border you’d like – we’re making a border of half an inch.
4. Cut the mount board: You’ll need a specialist cutter to ensure straight lines – if you're framing a few prints, this will easily pay for itself, when compared to the cost of having an image framed at a specialist shop. We’re using a Logan 424 Bevel cutter and ruler (£40/$50), which will cut the mat at a 45° angle. Align the ruler with the pencil line on one side of your rectangle and attach the bevel cutter. Cut in a smooth motion away from you, pressing hard and holding the ruler down as you do.
5. Put it all together: When your mount board is cut, position your photo behind it. Secure it at the top of the rectangular hole with picture tape. Only tape the top of your photo to the board – this makes the photo hang flat. Now you’re ready to assemble the whole thing. Line up the mount board, photo and glass inside the frame and clip closed.
Final tips for framing photos
- It’s a good idea to buy more mount board than you need so that you can practise cutting straight before you attempt your final border.
- Although mount board can be bought in pre-cut sizes, learning to cut it yourself allows you to customise any framed print exactly as you like. Many mount cutters can be bought with a 90° straight cutting head, as well as a 45° bevel cutting head, to help you do this.
- Cutting heads need to be kept razor sharp. When they start to blunt, buy packs of fresh blades from art stores.
- Protect surfaces with a craft board, and be wary of cutting your fingers!
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