All Articles Photoshop
Create an Out of bounds Effect in Photoshop
Martin Perhiniak on Wed, November 28th 0 comments
Don't get stuck in a box/frame... Martin Perhiniak, expert Adobe Photoshop designer and trainer shows how to merge two interesting compositions using a dividing frame - as often used in ad posters.

In this tutorial, we are going to learn how to achieve the so-called out of bounds effect using two photographs. We are going to design an interesting composition, which merges the two different scenes into one divided by a frame. This effect is very popular, mainly for advertisement posters, as it can give dynamism and depth to static photographs. All our edits will be completely non-destructive as we are going to use Layers masks and Layers styles. Let's get started!

This is the finished image we'll be creating.

This is the finished image we'll be creating.

Step 1 - Start with a photo of a road

I chose a photo with a long road leading to distant mountains. You can use any similar photos to this from the Internet. Here is a good example I found on Google.


Step 2 - Turn the photo into a Normal layer

Every photo comes up as a Background layer first when you open it up in Photoshop. The fastest way to turn it into a normal layer is to double-click on the Background layer's name in the Layers panel. This will bring up a dialog box where you can change the name or the layer or just simply accept it without adding in any text. After this you will have a Normal layer in your Layers panel, which means now you can add more layers behind it, not just on top of it. 

New Layer doalog.

It's an important step as we need to place another photo behind this one at the end of the tutorial.

Step 3 - Use the pen tool to create a path

Now we need to create a path, which we will use later to hide the back of the photo. The Pen tool (keyboard shortcut: P) is the best tool for creating these type of selections as we can easily edit them as paths before we turn them into selections. Make sure you have the Pen tool set to Path mode. This is how it looks in Photoshop CS6:

Pen tool set to Path mode.

And this is how it looks in Photoshop CS5 and earlier version:

Pen tool set to Path mode in Photoshop CS5.

Using the Pen tool.

On the image above I marked the points where I clicked with the Pen tool. All you need to do is to follow the steps in the order of the numbers on this image. For steps 3,4,5,7 and 8 you can hold down Shift before you click to make those lines horizontal and vertical. The last click (9) is to close the path. If you have more time you can be a bit more precise at this stage by following the fence more closely and include all of the logs in the selection (this is not necessary though).

Step 4 - Turn the path into a selection

Now that you created a path, you need to make sure it is selected. For this, use the Path Selection tool (keyboard shortcut: A) and click anywhere on the path. Once you have the path selected you can right-click somewhere on the image and choose Make Selection from the list.

Make Selection.

In the following dialog box, all you need to do is to press Return to accept the Make Selection command.

Make Selection dialog box.

If you do everything properly, this is what you will see at this stage:


Step 5 - Turn the selection into a Layer Mask

To be able to hide the selected part of the photo, we will have to turn this selection into a Layer Mask. The easiest way to do this is to click on the Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Mask icon.

The result you will get at this stage is not exactly what we need. We will have to invert this mask to make it work the way we want it. This is what you should see at this stage in your Layers panel:

The layer mask so far...

And this is how the image should look like. The little squares are representing transparency:

How the image should look like.

To be able to invert the mask you can either press Command-I (Control-I on PC) or go to Image > Adjustments > Invert. That should do the trick and now you should see what we wanted:

Layer mask.

Step 6 - Place another image in the background

You should look for another image that you can use for the background. I chose a photo of a very lush environment just to get a nice contrast between the two images:

The second picture.

The way you can place it behind the first image is either drag and dropping the new image into Photoshop or choose File > Place and locate the second photo on your computer. Once you have both photos in your Photoshop document you should drag the second one below the first photo in the Layers panel to keep it in the background:

Place the second image in the background.

Step 7 - Add a frame around the first photo

We are almost done, all we need is to separate the two images a little bit more and to emphasize the focal point of the composition. This step will also help improving the out of bound effect by creating a visual boundary around the first photo. The fastest way to do this is to create a shape layer. Draw a rectangle with the Rectangle Shape tool around the rectangular middle section of the image. It doesn't matter what fill and stroke colors you use at this stage as we are going to change them soon.

Drag a rectangle.

Now that we have a shape we just need to make the fill color transparent and add a white stroke around it. On the Layers panel, set the Fill Opacity for the rectangle shape layer to 0% and double-click on the layer to access the Layer Styles dialog box. Here add a tick to Stroke on the left and then use the options from the image below (to be able to see these options make sure you click on the name Stroke on the left).

Layers panel settings.

Step 8 - Mask out the unnecessary parts of the frame

Our last task is to remove the unwanted bottom part of this frame. To be able to mask a Layer Style you will have to choose the following option for this layer first in the previous dialog box under Blending Options:

Blending Options.

Now you will need to add a mask to this layer. Repeat the step we have done in Step 5 (click on the Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel). Once you have your mask ready you need to select the Brush tool (keyboard shortcut: B) and paint over the unwanted parts with a black color. That should do the trick and hide the bottom of the frame:

Hiding the bottom of the frame.

As a side note you can always use white color to paint back parts of the frame with the Brush tool on the mask of the rectangle shape layer. The rule of thumb is the following with masking: white shows / black hides. That is the main thing you need to remember whenever you work with Layer Masks.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and well done for your hard work :)

Related Videos
Comments (0)

You must be logged in to comment.

Compositing Workflows in Photoshop
Photoshop CS5 403
Dream It. Do It.
Do you want to learn Compositing Workflows in Photoshop?
Yes, I want to learn!
No Thanks, I just want to read the article.
Course Advisor
Don't Know Where To Start?
Ask A Course Advisor
Ask Us!
Copy the link below and paste it into an email, forum, or Facebook to share this with your friends.
Make money when you share our links
Become a Affiliate!
The current affiliate rate is: 50%
Classes Start Next Week!
Live 8-week Online Certification Classes for: