A Photo Matte Tutorial

Scrapbooking for Beginners will walk you through the process

Step #6 - Matte Your Photos

Scrapbooking Basics

Here you are at the Photo Matte Tutorial. You are more than halfway through the Quick Start Guide of Scrapbooking for Beginners.

1. Gather Related Photos.
2. Determine the Predominate Color.
3. Determine Theme or Context.
4. Pick papers - Based on your colors,theme or content.
5. Collect Your Tools.

6. Matte the photos, if you want to. A Photo Matte Tutorial.

7. Test Fit the Photos to the page size and adhere to the layouts.
8. Add Embellishments or other goodies (if you have them or want them).
9. Add the Journaling or save it for later.
10. Get your scrapbooking photo album and slide the pages in the sheet protectors and show off...

To Matte or Not to Matte?
That is the Question!

Mattes - Normally when you think of a Matte in regards to a picture, it serves two purposes.   A matte fits over the picture to keep it from touching the inside of the glass and it makes a frame around the picture for display.

Mattes in Scrapbooking - Mattes in scrapbooking basically make a frame around the photo to display it in a more artistic fashion, to separate the photo from the background design, and to provide a touch of a different color.   But, they don't normally fit over the photo -- they sit under the photo and are cut a little larger than the photo making a small border around it.

Matting today's photos - The majority of today's photos are developed or printed in 4 x 6 inch size.   So, a good sized matte would be just 1/4 inch bigger all the way around or 4 1/4 x 6 1/4.    That would provide 1/8 inch around the edges of your photos.  Just enough to lift your photos off the background page and make them look a little more professional and quickly moving you beyond Scrapbooking for Beginners.

Make Your Photos Pop with this easy Photo Matte Tutorial for cutting 12 x 12 papers.

Tip:   Scrapbooking for Beginners Tip: Here's the fastest and most economical way to make them:

   12 x 12 uncut     

If you cut a 12 x 12 piece of scrapbook paper in half in either direction, you will have 2 pieces 6 x 12.  
     6 "         6 "
      First Cut

If you cut each of those at the 4 inch mark, you will actually get 6 rectangles that are 4 x 6 inches. 

  4 x 6 "
Second & Third Cuts

   4 x 6       4 x 6
Forth & Fifth Cuts


While the resulting mattes from the above process are not quite big enough to show under your photos that are also 4 x 6, this is certainly an economical way to get your mattes. So, you can trim 1/4 inch off the short edge and long edge of your photos and they will fit very nicely on top of your mattes....leaving a 1/8 inch border of your matte color to show under your photo. A great frame to make your photos pop off the page.

Horrified at the thought of cutting your photos? Well take a look at them, maybe that 1/4 inch around the edge is not really showing any thing important, just a little extra background. But, there are certainly some I would not cut! I never cut an older photo that I don't have any way to duplicate - but most of today's photos can be trimmed a little on the edges without harming the context or the picture itself.

Important Scrapbooking for Beginners Tip: Don't cut photos you can't get duplicated and never cut a Polaroid as I understand that will damage them.

If you just can't bring yourself to trim your photos and still want to put mattes under them, cut your own out of extra paper or card stock or purchase them in pre-cut "Stacks" of card stock made for that purpose.

You can also get 4 mattes out of an 8 & 1/2 x 11 piece of paper or card stock. Cutting in half each way will yield 4 mattes that are 4 & 1/4 x 5 & 1/2 inches. Here again, you will have to trim your photos if you want to fit them on the mattes, only on the long side, about 3/4 of an inch total. That can be 3/4 inch off one side, or cut some off both sides which totals 3/4 inch.

These mattes are great for the older photos that are smaller and in many varying sizes.

Try this easy Photo Matte Tutorial for
cutting 8 1/2 x 11 inch papers.

8 & 1/2 x 11 cuts

Cutting in half each way will yield 4 mattes that are 4 & 1/4 x 5 & 1/2 inches.

Photo Matte Tutorial Tip: Another neat way to make your photos pop off the page with mattes, is to ink the edges of the mattes. I usually do this with an ink pad, and just drag the ink pad across the edge of the matte with a color that coordinates with the colors of the layout. I have used both darker and lighter inks.

Inked Photo Mattes

Inked Photo Mattes

Above are examples of mattes inked with a dark blue and white ink shown with a black background and a white background. You can ink the edges very carefully or you can allow the ink to get on the top surface of the matte which will give a little bit of a distressed look to the mattes and allow any texture of the paper to show even more.


Photo Matte Tutorial Tip: You don't have to stick with only one matte. You can use multiple mattes - two or even three.

This small photo of a fish was cropped to the shape of a tag, then matted in blue, then matted again with copper.

Double Photo Matte


Photo Matte Tutorial Tip: You can put your photos on the mattes centered or off-center, like this cropped fish photo which is swimming away from the scroll work on the right of the matte.
Get Creative and Use Your Imagination.

Cropped Photo Matte


Photo Matte Tutorial Tip: Your mattes can take on the shape of the photo or a cropped photo like on this layout of the South Carolina Aquarium.

Shaped Photo Mattes


Photo Matte Tutorial Tip: You can also put 2 or more photos on one matte together like the layout below of Alaska's Northern Lights.

Photo Mattes for Multiple Photos


Photo Matte Tutorial Tip: If you cut your own matte sizes and don't want to trim your photos, you will end up with some left over scraps of paper, but you can always use the leftovers to make cards, tags, photos mattes for smaller photos, photo corners, or cut the scraps into very small squares and use them as mattes for your lettering called "lettering blocks" or "header squares".....the list goes on. Using these little pieces will really take your layouts past the scrapbooking for beginners level.

You will always have Leftover Scraps!

Which is, I imagine, where the term Scrapbooking came from in the first place.

Now that you have finished the Photo Matte Tutorial ...
Move forward to Step #7 - Test Fit Your Layout
from Scrapbooking for Beginners

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Quick Start Guide

1. Gather Photos

2. Pick Color

3. Determine Theme

4. Pick the Papers

5. Collect Basic Tools

6. Cut Photo Mattes

7. Test Fit

8. Embellishments

9. Add Journaling

10. Fill your Album

Some Things To
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or Avoid.

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Card Making Don'ts
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