Placing a stamp frame around your pictures

How I Did It

I have had a few requests both here and at Facebook to know how I put a stamp frame around my pictures. I told the Facebook people that I would do a tutorial on that today. Since my wise old grandmother taught me to keep my word, well, here it is!

I have asked Zoey the Cool Cat to help us, and while she wasn’t enthusiastic, she agreed. She prefers to be out looking for Easter eggs, or at least the birds that laid them. I keep telling her they are rabbit eggs, but she’s not buying it; she’s smarter than that.

First, most photo editing programs have a stamp frame as part of their offerings. I haven’t liked any of them because they are too perfect, and stamps are anything but perfect. Following are two stamp frames, the perfect one and my imperfect one, so you can see the difference.

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Notice that the imperfect one has ragged, torn, frayed edges where it appears to have been separated from other stamps.

First we need to find a stamp shape that you like. For this tutorial, let’s use an oversized stamp size, like Scott #2542, a U.S. postage stamp released on August 31, 1991. I get my stamp pictures from Arago (http://arago.si.edu/) but you can download it from my blog here by right-clicking on the image and saving it to your computer.

Scott #2542

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You could learn a lot by paying attention hereThe method I’m going to teach you here works for any shape, so pay attention! There will be a test on Monday, and I want everyone to get a perfect score!

I will be using Photoshop CC, but this method probably also works in Elements and any other program that works with layers and masks, such as Paintshop Pro, Gimp, etc.

Once you’ve downloaded and saved your stamp, open it in Photoshop. We want to delete the stamp picture while keeping the stamp frame. To do that, click on the Rectangular Marquee Tool.

Rectangular Marquee Tool in Photoshop

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now simply draw a rectangle around the picture. You don’t have to be exact but make sure you get all of the picture within the box. When you let go of your mouse button, the box will turn into a moving dashed box, what we call “marching ants.”

Marching ants

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hit the Delete key and a Fill window should pop up:

Pop-up Fill window

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you haven’t used the Fill window recently, the default in the Use dropdown box will probably be Content-Aware. We want to change that to White.

Fill pop-up window

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Click on OK and your picture should magically disappear, being filled with white.

Stamp frame

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now we’re ready to insert our picture. Open your picture in Photoshop; it will show up in a new tab. Zoey the Cool Cat graciously has given me permission to use a picture of her.

Copy the picture you want to insert into the stamp frame. There are many ways to do that, but first you have to tell Photoshop what you want to copy. It doesn’t know that you want to copy the whole image unless you tell it. Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool again, simply draw a box around the whole picture. You don’t have to be exact at all as long as you are outside the picture on all four sides because Photoshop will snap the marquee to the picture borders.

Picture to be inserted in stamp frame

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now tell Photoshop to copy everything within the marching ants border, either Edit ►Copy or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C.

Switch to the tab that has our stamp frame so we can insert our picture into it. Make sure you still have the marching ants border from when we deleted the eagle picture from the stamp. If you don’t, no problem. Simply use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to draw another box where you want your picture to be.

Now paste your picture into the marquee box. To do that:
Edit ► Paste Special ► Paste Into.
The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl + Shift + Alt + V:

Edit, Paste Special, Paste Into

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That should give you something that might look a little weird, depending on the size of the picture you are inserting. If your picture is bigger than the box you’re inserting it into, you’ll see just a portion of the picture and a bounding box showing you how big the picture is. If you don’t see all of your picture but you don’t see a bounding box either, simply click on the Move Tool (red arrow below) and then click on Show Transform Controls (yellow arrow).

Move Tool and Show Transform Controls

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now you should see that stamp frame, a portion of your picture, and the boundary box telling you how big your picture is:

Stamp frame, picture, and boundary box

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If your picture is too big, the part that is not in the frame will be at the right and bottom. If you want to maintain the ratio of the height to the width (the aspect ratio), hold the Shift key down and click and hold that bottom right little square. Now move that square up to the bottom right corner of your picture border within the stamp frame. If your picture doesn’t have the same aspect ratio as the stamp, simply reposition the picture until you’re happy. Let go of the mouse and reposition the picture simply by clicking on it and moving it around.

Zoey the Cool Cat stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If your pictures always have the same aspect ratio, you can create a stamp frame that will always be correct so that you won’t have to do any fine-tuning position adjustments. If that’s the case, as it is with all the pictures from my Canon 550D camera, you can also create an Action that does everything automatically, which is what I did. My Action means that it takes about two seconds to put a stamp frame around any picture.

Remember earlier when I said that this method works for any shape? That’s how I created my Zoey the Cool Cat soccer ball:

Zoey the Cool Cat soccer ball

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you find a nicely framed picture on the Internet, you can delete the picture and use just the frame by following this tutorial.

Let me know in a comment if you have any problems while following this tutorial and I’ll help you.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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23 thoughts on “Placing a stamp frame around your pictures

          1. Photos With Finesse

            And you can buy Photoshop Elements for under $100 at Costco. Most people don’t need the additional features that CC provides. (Thanks for a nice informative tutorial Russell. Never thought about doing stamps, but I periodically fumble through other layer and mask work so it’s nice to see it laid out so simply!)

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            1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              Most people don’t even need Elements. They can get by with Lightroom!

              When my Clients finally show an interested in a digital photo editing programs, they’ll often ask my about the difference between Photoshop, Elements, and Lightroom. I’ll point out to them that the full names of the programs are Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. There is a reason they are named like that: Photoshop is the whole shop. Elements are just elements of Photoshop, and Lightroom is a Photoshop light room. Do you want the whole shop, just some elements, or just a room? If you can get by with a room, get Lightroom. If you can get by with some elements, get Elements. If you want the whole shop, get Photoshop.

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  1. Wayne

    I like that…I have got crazy with lining up circles in illustrator and using the pathfinder tool but that makes the perfect cuts. This is simple and works. Thanks.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Originally I was doing the same thing in CorelDraw as you were doing in Illustrator. I just didn’t like the perfect cuts. Might have something to do with me being a stamp collector at one point in my life and never seeing a perfect cut anywhere in my stamp collection!

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Worse than me! I had Photoshop 8.0 when I finally upgraded to the CS series.

      I upgraded because Photoshop had evolved. Not only was it a digital photo editing program, but it could do text, page layout, illustration, design, and so much more. I am now using Photoshop instead of a combination of Photoshop, Lightroom, Paintshop Pro, Photo-Paint, and Corel Draw. Thus I won’t be upgrading anything except Photoshop, which means I have already saved $199 because the latest version of Corel Draw was released a week ago. That $199 upgrade savings will pay for Photoshop’s monthly subscription for 20 months!

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  2. wordsfromanneli

    That was really interesting and very nice of you to go to the trouble of posting the process in such detail. I don’t have Photoshop but would love to have some version of it. I took a course in Photoshop once and the teacher went so fast it left most of his students behind in no time. This, what you’ve done is great!!! Thank you.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Video tutorials seem to have the same problem as your teacher. Some of the video’s I can’t even understand but I’m pretty sure they were speaking English, or at least attempting to. I sometimes spent five minutes rewinding a hundred times to see and listen to five seconds!

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  3. kanzensakura

    Every time I think I can do without Photoshop, you come up with something else to tempt me. I think I may need to borrow Zoey because I don’t do very well on these things. SamCat the Ripper is no help, but he does help me with Halo sometimes.

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