Sometimes it's all in the presentation and I've been looking for a better way to present some of my photos recently. As you all know by now, I'm a fan of free web-based software, and so Gimp was the obvious solution. (Go to Gimp.org to download Gimp if you haven't already.)
For this illustration, I'm using the photo above, which I snapped with my Droid from an office building in downtown Tulsa around sunset. I liked the way the light reflected off the buildings of the Tulsa skyline. So I cropped my photo, and messed around with the light filters until I liked the presentation. It was fine like this for a photo-sharing site.
But what if I wanted to "tweak" it a little by adding a frame? How about a 3D frame? This is actually quite easy to do in Gimp. Just follow these steps:
1) Open your photo in Gimp.
2) On the main menu bar at the top, click "Filters" (you'll be using this drop-down menu a lot for this), then "Decor" then "Add Border." Follow the instructions to add your border (or, if you're going to do a double frame, your inside layer). For this example, I chose an accent color I found in my photo, and used it as a mat. The Delta Value puts a light reflection on the frame; "25" is the default, and that works for the smaller frames. For larger frames, you may want to increase the number.
3) Go back to the "Filters" menu, then click on "Decor" then "Add Bevel." The number you choose will determine the thickness of your border. In this example this was an inside layer, so I used the default "5." Check "Keep bump layer."
4) Go back to the "Filters" menu (I warned you you would be using this menu a lot!), and choose "light and shadow." then "Xach Effect." This is a script that adds a drop shadow to the inside of the border only, to add some depth to your frame. Most of the defaults are fine, but you'll probably want to change the color of the "highlight" field to keep your border color from being lighted too much by the default white.
Voila! You have a lovely frame. But I wasn't through...I wanted a ridiculously large charcoal frame on my little smart-phone upload, so I repeated the above process, this time choosing a wider frame. I also like to do the "add bevel" process twice, because I like the depth that second layer adds. Also, this time instead of the "Xach-Effect," I chose "Drop Shadow" from that same menu. This added a drop shadow to the entire frame, including inside and outside of the border, adding an additional 3-D effect.
Perfect! (Just agree with me - and all will be well.)
OK, so what if I want a plain wooden frame around my photo instead?
For the following example, I went back to that now-familiar "Filters" menu, then chose "Decor," then "old photo." I unchecked defocus and mottle for this image (although I like those features), and moved the "border" to "zero" (that's for adding a fuzzy border that looks like deteriorated photo paper, but we're doing something different today).
The I followed steps 1-4 above, but used "drop shadow" on the first border instead of the "Xach-Effect", because I was just adding the one, and I wanted a shadow on the inside and outside of the photo. Then, I selected the frame, and used the free "Patters" provided in Gimp (go to "Windows," then "Dockable Dialoges," then "Patterns). I found one I liked and dragged the pattern directly onto the photo frame using click-hold. You can easily try different ones by simply choosing a different one, and dragging it to the same area - try them all if you like until you find the perfect one for your photo. I think this was an interest effect, don't you?
You can achieve all sorts of different looks by playing around with the lighting, shadows, patterns and depth on your photos. Go ahead and play, and have fun. Oh, and have a great weekend.