How to Make a Matte in Gimp


You can create a matte in GIMP to frame a digital picture. Using a few basic tools, you can customize the matte's appearance according to the size, color and style of your choice. You can give the matte semi-transparent properties or keep it completely opaque, with hard or blurred edges and simple or complex additional embellishments. You can add text, lights and shadows, or you can maintain a crisp and monotone look.

  • Launch GIMP and open your picture by selecting "File" then "Open." Look through your documents to locate your picture, clicking on it and pressing "Open." Your picture will appear as the background of a new GIMP workbook.

  • Insert a new layer over your background by clicking on "Layer" then "New Layer." A "Create a New Layer" pop-up box will become visible; choose a "Layer Fill Type" of "Transparency" and press "OK."

  • Click on the "Select" tab and choose "All." Click on "Select" again, but this time click on "Border." Input the number of pixels wide you want your border to appear and check "Feather border," if desired. Press "OK" and the matte border will be selected.

  • Locate the "Foreground Color" box in the main toolbar and click on it. Choose the color you want your matte to be, then press "OK." Click on "Edit" and "Fill with FG Color." Press "Select" and then "None."

  • Embellish the matte as desired. If you want to blur the border more, select "Filters," "Blur" and "Gaussian Blur." Input your desired horizontal and vertical selections for "Blur Radius" and press "OK." You can additionally insert light and shadow effects by clicking on "Filters" and "Light and Shadows," selecting one of the relevant options such as "Gradient Flare" and following the accompanying prompt.

  • Change the opacity of your matte. View the "Layers" toolbar by clicking on "Windows," "Dockable Dialogs" and "Layers." At the top of the Layers box, there is an "Opacity" scrollbar you can use to change the visibility of your border. A level of 0 makes the layer completely transparent whereas a level of 100 makes the layer completely opaque.

  • Save the file when you are done creating your matte by clicking on "File" and "Save As." Type in the name you want to assign the file and follow it up with a picture extension such as JPG.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can insert text onto the matte such as "True Love" or "Family is Forever." Click on the "Text Tool" located in the main toolbar and click on the workbook itself. Type in the desired text, adjusting the font, size and color as desired. Use the "Move" tool located in the main toolbar to re-position the text where you want it to go.
  • In order to save the multi-layer file as a picture, you will be prompted to "Export File" after you click "Save." This process will flatten your image so it can be converted into the chosen format.

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  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
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