Matting Your Photos

Matting is simply creating a “frame” for a picture or other scrapbook page element. Mats are used to create a visual separation between photos or elements and the background paper and to help them “pop” off the page. Think of hanging a picture on a wallpapered wall—you’d want to put the picture in a frame first to separate it from the wallpaper pattern and to give a “finished” effect.

Our designers follow the “Golden Rule” of matting: Mat photos on coordinating, solid colored papers before placing them on patterned paper. This will visually separate the photo from the pattern.

How to mat your photos

To mat a photo, just glue it onto your solid matting paper and cut, leaving the desired amount of paper around the edges of the photo—anywhere from 1/16” to 1/4”. It’s easiest if you place the photo in the corner of a piece of paper so you’ll only have to make two cuts.

You can use scissors, a ruler, X-acto® knife and cutting mat, or a paper trimmer to cut your mats.

Selecting the color of your mat

When in doubt, try a mat that’s black, white or off-white—this coordinates with nearly everything. You can also match your mat to the secondary colors in your background paper. For example, if the background paper is mostly pink with some white, mat your photos on white. If the pattern is especially large or brightly colored, use a slightly wider mat such as 1/2” to mute the bright colors.

Matting isn’t restricted to a single piece of plain paper, either. Here are few ways to get creative with your photo mats:

Multiple matting: Begin with a neutral solid color, then a patterned paper followed by another neutral. The neutral layers provide a nice transition between the photo and patterned paper.

Color Blocking: Add dimension to a photo by matting it with geometric shapes. This technique works best with simple photos.

Offset matting: Layer papers of the same shape in sequential angles for a dramatic effect or simply use multiple mats and place the photo to one side of the mat, hanging over the edge.

Torn edge matting: Add texture to a mat layer by tearing along the edges. Use it between cut edges or layer several torn edges together for a soft effect.

You can also try matting with vellum or metallic paper. Vellum is great for giving a variety of tones and textures to the page. Metallic papers work well for coordinating with other metallic page elements like charms, brads or metallic thread.

Matting is a simple way to step up your layouts, giving them dimension and interest. It’s also a quick and easy way to make your photos the central focus of your layouts.