Frames and Backgrounds

Working with frames and backgrounds in a scrapbook project with PaintShop Pro can be challenging if a few basic procedures are not clear.

This tutorial is the result of a question I received from a PaintShop Pro user who was having some difficulty creating a nicely stacked scrapbook page.

The confusion was, in part, due to a mis-understanding of the different types of files when you download or buy a CD of scrapbook frames and backgrounds and embellishments.

She wanted to place an image of her niece riding a horse in a frame and it just wasn't working at all.  She had all of the components and couldn't get them to work together.

So let's start with the file types and there is only one thing you really need to understand ...

File Types

Most of the files you receive when you download or purchase a scrapbooking CD will be a mixture of the following file types ...

  • .png
  • .jpg, and in some cases
  • .psd

Of particular interest when working with frames and backgrounds are the .png files.  This is an example of a .png frame ...

What separates this file type from a .jpg file is the checkerboard pattern inside the frame.

The checkerboard pattern means that particular area is transparent and anything behind it will be visible through the frame.

Just think of a real world picture frame - it's placed on top of the picture.

Anything that is behind the frame (the purple ribbony thing in this case) will be hidden.

The problem the new PaintShop Pro user had was that she opened the png file from her CD to check out the frame, liked what she saw and saved it as a jpg file to her hard drive.

When she opened the the file later (it was now a jpg file) the checkerboard pattern disappeared and was replaced by white which tends to make the frame totally useless as a frame, doesn't it?

To prevent your .png files from becoming a ,jpg just copy the files from your frames and backgrounds CD directly onto your hard drive.  The .png's will stay .png's complete with their transparencies.


The background file type will be a .jpg file - this is a scaled down version of a 12" X 12" background ...

The background will generally be the bottom layer in the layers palette - the initial element of the stack.

All of the images, embellishments, frames and borders will be built on different layers above the bottom layer.

Another great thing about working with frames and backgrounds with PaintShop Pro is that it's quite easy to change the color of the background.

In this case the look of the background is fine but the lavender background is not exactly what I would like.

The color change will be brought about by applying a Hue/Saturation/Lightnessadjustment to the background layer.

Changing Background Color

This is the Hue/Saturation/Lightness palette which is found right here - Adjust > Hue and Saturation > Hue/Saturation/Lightness ...

The settings shown here produced this color on the background ... when you make a color change make note of the number so they can be applied to other elements (like the frame, for instance) of the project. The numbers for the background are Saturation 42, Hue 191, Lightness  24.

Now because background is blue it seems like a good idea to make the frame a similar, but not the same color, don't you think?

First you need to open the frame as a new image.

If you copied down the settings from the background color change then it is an easy task to change the color of the frame as well - but maybe just a bit darker or lighter.

I chose a bit darker color and here it is (Saturation 42, Hue 191, Lightness -14) ...

Now we have two important elements ready to go - the fame and the background.  Let's put them together.

Putting The Frames and Backgrounds Together

The frames and backgrounds need to be open in Paint Shop Pro.  My preference is to move everything onto the background - it just seems reasonable, somehow.

Make the Frame the active image and then ...

  • Select All - Selections > Select All  (Ctrl+A)
  • Copy - Edit > Copy  (Ctrl+C)

Switch over to the Background as the active image and then ...

Edit > Paste As New Layer  (Ctrl+V)

This is what the Layers Palette looks like now ...

Now an image can be pasted in as a third layer and dragged below the Frame layer and above the Background layer to create a great look.  

Notice that the Background is showing through the transparent part of the Frame - that is what the png file does for you.

Making Things Fit

Sometimes the frame is too small or too big or doesn't match the shape of the background so some fiddling is required.  Here's the frame on this background ...

Now that isn't particularly useful, is it?

There are a few things that can be done to get things right in the frames and backgrounds project ...

  1. Upsize the Frame and crop out any extra background, or
  2. Downsize the Frame and move it to a different position on the Background.

Cropping down the Background is not a good solution because the page would be too small.

Upsizing the Frame and cropping out extra Background is a better solution but the end product will be a non-standard size.

If text will be added then downsizing the frame may be the best solution.

Whatever choice is made, the re-sizing will be done with the Pick Tool ...

Frames and Backgrounds Frame Pick Tool

This is the Pick Tool.

On the frames and backgrounds layer palette select the Frame layer and click on the Frame with the Pick Tool (the image to the right is just a portion of the frames and backgrounds  combination).

The bounding box will appear with all of those little red handles and the spinny thing in the middle.

You can rotate the Frame by spinning the central point.

The Frame can be made larger or smaller by placing the Pick Tool over one of the corners. 

A little square will appear and then drag the point to keep the same ratio of length to width while making the Frame bigger or smaller (this maintains the aspect ratio of the frame).

If you drag on the red points in the middle of the Frame it will make the Frame wider or taller.

When you are done click on another tool to exit the Pick Tool.

After a bit of fiddling around here is the new combination of Frames and Background  with some rotation added to the frame ...

This particular frame is great for a portrait image but will be limiting if you are going to insert a landscape image in the frame.

That's much more useful and now it's time to add an image ...

Adding an Image

This is the photograph that is going to go in the frame ...

The size of the image is 3200 pixels X 2400 pixels which is way bigger than the frame.

The same procedure was followed with the image as with the Frame.

Open the image in PaintShop Pro - it will open in it's own tab.

Activate the photograph and Select All (Ctrl+A).

Copy with Edit > Copy (Ctrl+C).

Open the Frames and Backgrounds image, select the top layer and then Paste As New Layer (Ctrl+V).

The layer palette now shows three layers.  The top one is the new image which needs to go below the frame layer.

The next step is to drag the top layer (Rose of Sharon) below the Frame layer - this is done by clicking the image layer and then just dragging it below the frame.  This will place it in the right spot in the layers palette for the next step which is to resize the image (or the frame)...

Modify the Image

Here's how things look now with the Rose of Sharon layer dragged below the Frame layer and the layers palette ...

Things are coming along nicely in our frames and backgrounds page but there is an obvious problem with the Frame and the Image - something is too big (the image) or something is too small the frame).

The good thing is that both can be modified - the Frame can be enlarged or the photograph can be made smaller - so lets try both with the Pick Tool ...

Adjusting The Frame

By now this should be simple.  Active the Frame layer and grab the Pick Tool once again.

Click on the Frame and place your cursor over one of the corner handles (the red dots) until a little Rectangle appears.  Left click and drag the Frame to make it larger. 

When you reach the edge of the image move the Frame to see how it looks and re-adjust if necessary.

This is what happened (a zoomed in view) ...

Getting it right took a bit of messing around and re-sizing and here it is - not too bad!

Adjusting The Image

There are two ways to do this - one is to erase unwanted parts of the image to fit the Frame and the other is to downsize the image with the Pick Tool.  You might think that cropping would be a good idea but it can be quite annoying actually.

If you crop in the Frame and Background layers then the whole thing is cropped, not just the picture.

You can crop the image before adding it to the stack if you wish, however.

Downsize The Image

Activate the Rose of Sharon layer, grab the Pick Tool and click on the image so the little handles appear.

Hover over one of the corner handles and re-size the image down so it is close to the size of the Frame.  Release the mouse button and use the Pick Tool to drag the image behind the Frame.

This is how it looks (I left the Pick Tool framework for reference ...)

The picture has not been modified in any way, just made to fit the Frame.

Looks OK, right?  And there is a lot of space for some text.

Erase Unwanted Parts 

This is an easy way to make things fit - now it may seem to be just too easy and basic but darn - it works really well.  

Before erasing take a good look at the image to determine how much you want visible through the Frame.

If it needs to be up or down sized grab the Pick Tool and adjust 'till you get what you want and then have at it with the eraser - make sure the image layer is selected!

Here is the page with the unwanted parts erased ...

Finishing Up

You can leave the whole thing as is on the frames and backgrounds project - with three layers but there is one more thing you can do to tighten things up and that is to Merge the Image and Frame layers together.

When that is done you can move the resulting layer around wherever you want.

This easy to do - activate the top layer in the stack - in this case the Frame Layer - and then click Layers > Merge > Merge Down.

This will merge the Frame and the Rose of Sharon layers together into one new layer which you can move around, rotate, re-size and do things like add a drop shadow to the layer.

This one has the frame and picture rotated with a drop shadow and some text with a drop shadow - the drop shadow gives the picture and text some depth..

Once you understand how to work with frames and backgrounds your scrapbook projects will be much, much easier.

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