There’s nothing quite like a nicely framed photograph. Ideally we’re talking about some classy wood and quality glass. If your image is heading to Grandma for her birthday, then that’s probably the best option.
But for many of us, photographs largely live online, ready to be admired and/or criticised by the masses. For some situations, a virtual border or frame is a substantial improvement. Restraint is advised though. Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should.
I’ve got two easy online methods to have yourself framed, and one for those who prefer to be offline now and then.
Picnik is a thoroughly friendly free site which allows you to add your images from your local machine, or from other image websites, and then edit the images online. It’s not Photoshop, and doesn’t pretend to be, but if you want a quick, thoroughly visual way to make changes, it’s hard to beat.
Picnik supplies you with five types of frames in the free scenario, and a few more for those willing to fork out cash. You can adjust the effects easily for the frames, and in some cases stack the frames on each other for a more comprehensive effect.
For instance the Drop Shadow border tool lets you adjust the colours of both the shadow and the background, including the option to pick colours from the image itself. Once you add the capability to mess with the distance, angle, size and amount of fade, you have a fairly comprehensive tool. The other free frame options are border, rounded edges, matte and Polaroid.
Large files seem a little problematic. I had to upload this one from my PC three times before it would work. Pikifx wants to decrease the quality of the previews to increase the speed, and I must admit to preferring that I see the best possible representation of the image at all times, though I understand the trade-off. Doubtless your broadband speed will determine your settings in here.
This is an example of the grunge border tool. You can see from the list that the options are more comprehensive. The settings within each of the tools covers a lot of ground as well, but the same rule applies. That capability comes with a less friendly interface, I think.
Both picnik and pikifx are happy to work with images on your behalf without either payment or sign-up, and that’s nice. Of course if you link to your flickr account, or one of the other options, then you’re no longer quite so anonymous.
If you’re more comfortable with an offline option, running Windows, and you’re not looking for anything more than a plain border, then Irfanview provides a solid option. Let’s face it. Sometimes the simpler solution is better, and the last thing you want to do is to overpower your image with an impressively complex border.
Irfanview can also batch process the borders, so if you have an entire folder of images to put black borders around, this is seriously painless.
Unfortunately the border option is a little hidden. People are often a little surprised when I show them. You need to open the application, browse to the folder containing the images, and select an image. Once you are viewing an image, either choose the Batch Conversion/Rename option from the File menu, or hit the ‘b’ key on the keyboard.
Select the files you wish to apply borders to, tick the Use advanced options and click the Advanced button.
The options here are nothing short of bewildering. There’s one important thing to remember. If you’ve been in here before, then Irfanview will remember the settings from that session. So if you increased the contrast of a group of photos previously, check that you’ve turned the option off now, or you’ll have a batch of seriously eye-popping images. On the other hand, if you want to, you can apply a bunch of other changes at the same time as the borders. Just make sure you want to do that.
The borders are set up in the confusingly named Canvas size option, so tick that and hit the Settings button.
The settings shown are the default ones. Three pixels on each edge of the image, and Model T black. Adjust these options as you please, and tap the OK button. In the more recent versions of the application, you can also use negative numbers in the pixel spaces, which trims the edges off the images rather than adding a border. Useful, but not something you want to do by mistake.
Back in the Advanced dialogue, note that there are some options there relating to overwriting files, and creation of subfolders. I’m certainly hoping that you would have backed the images up before using this for the first time, but take some time and care with these settings to be sure you have the behaviour you want. note also that when you get back to the main Batch Conversion page there is a section on the left which lets you select the output location.
Click OK again to return to the Batch Conversion page, and when you are happy with your selections click on Start batch to begin adding borders to your images. Enjoy.
Does anyone have another favourite way to achieve border bliss? Tell all.
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