Turn Photos into Beautiful Framed Paintings



Sometimes when experimenting and researching for an upcoming tutorial you find that someone else has really nailed the simplicity of a technique you want to achieve. I felt that the core idea for this tutorial was already set forth by Eren Goksel. I've simply taken that foundation and figured out the process in Pixelmator and then added our own uniqueness in technique, tools and turning the photo into a painting idea to go with it. I'm glad to share this with you guys, let's get started!

picture frame final


Step 1 - Resizing the Texture

First create a new canvas of 650px wide by 800px high. Next we'll drag and drop our wood texture on to our canvas.

picture frame1

Hit Command > F to transform and rotate the texture so it runs vertically. Reduce the size until just before it reaches the edges of the canvas.

picture frame2

Next move the Texture all the way to the left until it snaps to the canvas edge. Pull a vertical guideline from the left, out to exactly 100px. Turn off "Constrain proportions" and grab the transform handle on the right side and compress the wood texture to the left until you reach the guideline.

picture frame3

Now go to Image > Hue and Saturation and bump the saturation up to about 10% and move the red dot on the outside of the color wheel slightly downward to give the wood a more cherry tone, when your happy with the result hit "Ok".

picture frame4

Step 2 - Make the Frame Grooves

You've probably been wondering what to use the Column Marquee tool for and here is a good example. If you don't already have it in your tool palette go to Preferences > Tools > Selecting and drag and drop it on. With this tool selected set the width to 28px and place the center of the crosshairs where the arrow is and click to create a selection the entire length of the canvas.

picture frame5

Next create a linear gradient that has three black color-stops, one on each end and the one in the middle. On the middle one, turn it's opacity down until it's totally transparent. On a new layer pull this gradient from one side of the selection to the other as shown below. Change the gradient layers blending mode to Multiply and turn down the opacity to about 60-75% to lighten it up.

picture frame6

Repeat the same technique except with a 16px wide selection placed as shown. Make sure your putting all elements on their own layer.

picture frame7

Step 3 - Add the Highlights

Again use the Column Marquee tool at 16px, create a selection between the two shadow grooves we previously made. Pull a white to transparent linear gradient from left to right to create a highlight.

picture frame8

Change the blending mode of the highlight layer to Soft Light. Next duplicate this layer a couple time to increase the effect, then merge the copies together into one. Duplicate this newly merged layer one time and move it over to the left, outside edge of the frame border. Duplicate another copy and move it to the right, very inside edge of the frame. You should have three Highlight layers all with their blending modes set to Soft Light. Select all of the layers we've made and put them in a group named "Moulding".

picture frame9

Step 4 - Making Copies

Now that we've created one side of our frame, let's not make more work for ourselves than we need to. First pull three other guidelines to 100px on the other remaining sides. Next select the "Moulding" group and duplicate it one time. Then switch to the Move Tool (V) and while holding SHIFT, move the duplicated group over to the right side of the canvas till it fits between the edge and the guideline.

picture frame10

Since it's not facing the correct direction go to Edit > Flip Horizontal and it should now be a mirror image of the other side. Adjust back in place if needed.

picture frame11

Duplicate this Moulding group again and go up to Edit > Rotate 90 degrees Left. Move this up to the top of the canvas between the edge and the guideline and center it. Make one more duplicate of the top moulding, move it to the bottom and go to Edit > Flip Vertical.

picture frame12

Make sure all of your frame sides are facing the correct direction and are perfectly lined up. The keyboard arrow keys are great for making 1px move adjustments. The Top and Bottom Moulding groups should be underneath the Left and Right ones. Name your Moulding Groups so they make sense.

picture frame13

Step 5 - Cutting Corners

Now with the Left Moulding group selected use the Polygonal Lasso tool to create a selection as shown below. The trick to getting a perfect 45 degree angle on the corners is to anchor the selection just outside the 90 degree corner and hold SHIFT to snap to a 45 degree angle and pull towards the center of the canvas anchoring it again on the other side. The selection should look the same on the Right side as well, finally close the selection by bringing it back to where you started and click to close the loop. Select the wood texture layer within the Left Moulding Group and hit delete, then moving to each of the layers, continue to hit delete until the all of the corner is erased.

picture frame14

With the selection we've made still active, select the Right Moulding group and repeat selecting and hitting delete on each of the layers. You should end up with nice looking frame corners as shown. Finally repeat the process of creating a selection around the bottom corners just like we did above with the Polygonal Lasso tool. Again select and delete each of the Left and Right Moulding group layers.

picture frame15

Step 6 - Center Shape and Inner Shadow

Next switch to the Rectangle Shape tool and pull a rectangle shape that overlaps just 1 pixel into the frame border all around. Turn down the shape layers opacity to be able to see thru it. Zoom in and use the adjustment handles to get it just right.

picture frame16

Right click on the rectangle shape layer and put it in it's own group, you'll see why in a second. Next move the rectangle shape group under all of the Moulding groups and add a new layer just above it named "Inner Shadow".

picture frame17

On the new Inner Shadow layer use the Rectangle Marquee Tool to create a selection as shown and fill with it black. (Option > CMD > "F")

picture frame18

Now Command click on the rectangle groups "thumbnail" to grab it's shape and then with the Inner Shadow layer selected, hit delete. This will "cut" the center out of the black rectangle we've made. Hit Command > D to deselect.

picture frame19

Next go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and Blur the Inner Shadow layer about 5px.

picture frame20

Duplicate the Inner Shadow layer two more times to increase the effect and then select all three (Command click to select multiple layers) and merge them into one. Also you can now right click and "ungroup" the rectangle shape layer.

picture frame21

Step 7 - Create the Painting

Now let's get to creating the cool painting effect. First drag and drop the Tree Photo onto the canvas and hit Command > F to resize it to fit within the frame. Move it to where you like. The photo should be just above the Shape layer. Go ahead and right click on the photo layer and choose "Add Clipping Mask", this will clip the photo to the shape layer below it.

picture frame22

Since this photo was slightly dark we can select the photo layer and go to Image > Exposure and turn it up to about 17%, then hit "ok".

picture frame23

Now for the magic part, if you haven't done it already, download and install the BeLight Image Filter pack. After you've installed them, go to Filter > Stylize > BC Dabs Painting.

picture frame24

We'll set the paint Dabs size to 19% and adjust the saturation way up to 155% to get some beautiful color in our painting!

picture frame25

Here are the layers you should have so far. You can group all of the "Moulding" layer groups into one group named "Frame" to tidy up your layer panel.

picture frame26

Next drag and drop the Vintage Film Texture just above the Photo layer. Hit Command > F to reduce the size the Film Texture to fit just behind the frame.

picture frame27

Right click on the Vintage Film Texture and choose "Add Clipping Mask". Change the blending mode to Subtract and turn down the opacity to about 50%. Finally right click and add a Layer Mask to the Film Texture layer. Use a black to transparent linear gradient pulling from the top down to create a mask that only allows the bottom portion of the Texture to show. You can see from the mask thumbnail that I angled from the top right corner to the bottom left.

picture frame28

Step 8 - Age and Color the Frame

Finally let's age the frame a bit. Drag and drop the Vintage Film Texture onto the canvas once again and move it to just above the Frame group, changing the blending mode to Soft Light. You can see the Texture covers the painting as well which we don't want, but we'll take care of this in a second.

picture frame29

To give the frame a darker, richer look, go ahead and Command click on the Frame group thumbnail to select the entire shape of the frame. Add a new layer above the last Vintage Texture layer and name it Brown tint. Fill the selection with a brown linear gradient ( Dark Brown #221311 to Light Brown #4D3227 back to Dark Brown #221311) from top to bottom. Change the blending mode to Soft Light.

picture frame30

With the selection still active go to the Vintage Film Texture layer above the Frame group, right click and choose "Add Mask". This will only allow the texture to show on the frame and not on the painting.

picture frame31

And there we have it! There are so many variations of this technique you can do using different wood textures, changing the grooves and highlights slightly, tinting the frame differently and lastly trying different colorful pictures for your painting!

picture frame32


You can export your painting as a png or jpg and add it to a larger canvas with some wallpaper, lighting and shadows to make a cool scene, get creative and we'd love to see what you come up with!

picture frame final
pxm coffee
Like our Tutorials?

If you love the work we're doing in behalf of the community and would like to buy us a coffee to support our site you can give back right here!


  • JJBee says:

    Hi Jacob
    I’m Jean-Jacques Boutaud (aka JJBee) the developer of the BC Image Unit plugin and I really enjoy to see what other people can create with my own work (here BC Dabs Painting).
    This tutorial is impressive, especially the wood frame!