Photoshop: Darkening & Lightening Photo Edges

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Article Courtesy by Denise Gormish

Want to add some fun effects to your photographs? Darkening or lightening the edges of a photograph is one easy effect that can be done in Adobe Photoshop.

To lighten or darken the outer area of a photograph follow these steps:

  1. Open a photograph.
  2. Edit the photograph as desired.
  3. Select the Rectangular Marque Tool.
  4. Select an area from the edges of the photograph. In my example, I selected ½" from the edges of the photograph on all four sides.


  5. Go to the Select menu and chose Inverse.
  6. Go to the Image menu and chose Adjustments then Levels. Slide the middle level indicator to the right to darken and to the left to lighten.


    The selected area will lighten and darken as indicated. Click OK.



    How dark or light the photo edge appear will depend on the area selected and how much the levels are adjusted.

For additional pizzazz add a border to the selected area. After adjusting the levels of the image, go to the Edit menu and select Stroke.


Choose a width and color. I chose 8 pixels and white for my example.


An additional technique for a dark or light border involves using a digital overlay.

  1. Open the photograph.
  2. Edit the photograph as desired.
  3. Open the overlay, available from digital scrapbook suppliers. Adjust the image size of the overlay. If the overlay is larger than your image (say, 12" x 12") then resize it in the widest direction. If the photo is 4" x 6" resize the overlay to 6 inches.
  4. Use the Move tool to move the overlay on top of the photograph. Hold down the shift key as you move the overlay. Check and make sure it is the top layer and select it.
  5. Go to the Edit menu and choose Transform. Now adjust the rest of the overlay to fit on the photograph. Press return to save the transformation.
  6. Select the Layer menus and then Flatten Image.


To change the color of the overlay, select the overlay. Press Command and click on the layer. Fill with color.


Add fun effects and beautiful blending with these photo-editing techniques.

Supplies: Katie Pertiet's Grunge Overlays, DesignerDigitals


Shop all digital scrapbooking products at


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