Simple Border Tutorial

16 Dec 2005
Welcome to my Border Tutorial. This is the second tutorial I have written and accompanies the Simple Signature Tutorial I wrote last week.

In this tutorial I will show you two different ways you can make a border and some variations of both. As before the methods used here are very simple to do and should work in most versions of Photoshop.

Everything in this tutorial you will probably be able to find in other places on the internet, but this is an attempt to keep some basic stuff here on the forums that people can refer to without leaving OcUK.

This tutorial is accompanied by a series of images to show you most of the steps involved, however I am not going to rely on these images in case anything happens to my hosting.

The Tutorial

So you have got yourself a nice new signature sat in front of you looking good? Now before we go ahead and use this signature we have to give it a border. I say “have” because I firmly believe that ANY signature MUST have a border! Not only does it help make your signature look tidier it also makes it stand out from the page. Both are very good reasons to have a border.

In the Simple Signature Tutorial I finished it with a very simple border that while looks good isn’t entirely flexible. Both the black and white strokes are on the same layer, meaning whatever we do to the blend mode of the layer affects the black and the white.

This first border I will show you eliminates that problem. Take your signature and create a new layer, I named mine White Stroke.

This is the signature I will be using as my example.


Make sure your new layer is active by clicking on it then press Ctrl+A to select the whole layer. Now we need to stroke this selection. Go to Edit>>Stroke and a Stroke dialog will pop up. In this dialog change the size of the stroke to 2px and change the colour to White. Also make sure that the location is set to Inside. Always assume the location to be Inside whenever I mention a Stroke unless I say otherwise. Click OK and your selection will be stroked white.

Deselect the layer by pressing Ctrl+D. Create another layer and name it Black Stroke. This is the important part now so read carefully.

Select the Magic Wand Tool from the Tools palette on the left then select the White Stroke layer. Using the Magic Wand click in the centre of the layer. This should create a rectangle selection just a tad smaller than the signature. Now make the Black Stroke layer active by clicking on it in the layers palette and then go back to Edit>>Stroke. Change the size to 1px and the colour to Black then click OK. You can now deselect.

You should have something that looks like this [White outer border with narrower Black inner border]


Now this is the fun part. Well, maybe not. Go back to the White Stroke layer and then go to where it says Blend Mode in the drop-down box. Click inside it then try each of the different modes. Some might not appear to do anything but some should do some nice things.

Here are a few examples.

Soft Light Blend Mode

Difference Blend Mode
Last edited:
16 Dec 2005
Part 2

Okay, so you have a nice border there with a cool blending effect on it. It looks awesome! However, you would like another type of border? No problem!

Get yourself your signature and remove any other border layers [you can just hide them by clicking the eye icon next to the layer name]. Create a new layer and grab yourself the Polygonal Lasso Tool. Starting wherever you wish create a chunky selection inside your layer. For my example I chose to go for a tech-style selection. To achieve this I held the Shift key down while using the Polygonal Lasso Tool. This forces the tool to stay in nice straight lines and will only change direction in 45 degree increments.

Once you have closed your selection you should have something along the lines of what I have here [Marching ants in the shape you want]


Now you need to fill this selection with a colour. The colour you choose is entirely up to you. Please note however that there might not be a great deal of difference when it comes to the blend modes between colours.

For my example I have chosen White, shown here.


Now, right-click on the layer with the white fill and choose Blending Options…

In the new dialog that appears change the Blend Mode in the drop-down box to Soft Light. Now, give your layer a Drop Shadow and a 1px Black Stroke. Also, choose Bevel and Emboss. Change the size option to 0.

I have not given you exact settings because depending on the colours, size and shape of border and personal tastes you will have to play around with the settings to get the desired effect. You can also choose an alternative blend mode to see how it affects your current settings. Layer Styles have a lot of flexibility and can keep you occupied for a long time!

Here is my final border


You can also create more complex borders by creating a second layer and giving it a different effect like here.


The top border is a nice shiny metal while the bottom border is a matt black colour.

Since I created these images solely for this tutorial the borders aren’t the best they could be. With a little time and patience you could produce some very cool results.

It is quite possible to spend just as much time on a border as you did on the signature, if not longer!

I hope you enjoyed this and have learned something :)

Please could you point out any mistakes or anything that you would like explaining.

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