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Matting Photos in Scrapbooks

Updated on March 2, 2019
linfcor profile image

Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.

Best Tips and Ideas For Matting Photos In Scrapbooks

Making scrapbooks is the absolute best way to preserve your photos and memories for generations. It's not difficult to making scrapbook pages. All you need is the basics, some scrapbook paper, some adhesives and some photos. That is the most basic elements of scrapbooks. Then you build on those elements to create a page that will capture the memories of your life.

Matting your photos takes those pages to a new dimension by adding layers to your pages. Mats bring your photos the attention they deserve and create balance to your layouts. They give you the ability to add creativity and artistic elements to your scrapbooks. Best of all, they can be easy to do or as intricate as you want them to be.

Tools To Create Scrapbook Mats

You will need only a few tools to get started with matting your photos. Many of them you probably already have:

  • 12 inch clear ruler
  • Scissors or a paper trimmer
  • Acid free adhesives- tape runner is easiest to use
  • Decorative scissors
  • Pens/markers
  • Decorative embellishments
  • Matting material can be cardstock,patterned paper, vellum, or metallic papers

Basic Matting Techniques - First steps in Matting Your Photos

Photo Mats are simply pieces of scrapbook paper or other flat material that you mount photos onto. That are bigger than the photo itself. Generally they are 1/8 inch bigger than the photo all the way around.

Think of them as frames for your photos. They can be precut mats that you buy for that purpose, or they can be mats that you create yourself. The most basic mat, is just a piece of paper in a color that enhances your scrapbook page or your photo.. It can either be a variant of the colors you have chosen, or it can be a contrast color. That's your choice

It can be a piece of scrap material, lace or a doily. It's up to you and the effect that you are trying to create. Pick a material that can be mounted on a solid piece of cardstock.

Use A Heavy Cardstock Base

If you are mounting photos, especially on multiple photos, you will want to use a heavy cardstock as the base for your page. Start with a cardstock that is at least 80 lbs-110 lbs in weight

Diecuts With A View Glitter Cardstock 4-1/2 inches by 6-1/2 inches Mat Stack, 48 Sheets/Pad
Diecuts With A View Glitter Cardstock 4-1/2 inches by 6-1/2 inches Mat Stack, 48 Sheets/Pad

Mat stacks are so easy to use. I keep several is my stash just to have on hand when I am looking for something unique to add to my pages. I especially love these glitter stacks ! Perfect for proms, weddings and special occasions.


Mat Stacks - The Easiest Way To Mat Pictures

If you want to save a lot of time, mat stacks are a great option to mount photos. They come in solid colors and prints. Often scrapbook paper sets will have coordinated mat stacks, so you can get a lot of scrapbooking done quickly and effectively. If you don't feel very artistic or are a scrapbook beginner, the these are a good option for you

Doilies can be an interesting way to add dimension to a mat. They come in all shapes, colors and sizes
Doilies can be an interesting way to add dimension to a mat. They come in all shapes, colors and sizes

Cropping Photos -Step One

Cropping is taking out any unneeded details from your photos. It enables you to focus on the main subject of the picture. Most photos are cropped in a square or rectangular shape. But you can crop a photo in any shape that you want. You simply cut away any areas that you want to "clean up". Remember not to use too many different shapes on photos. It causes confusion on your pages.

So you can use a trimmer to cut your photo or you can use a clear ruler to mark the area to be cropped and cut it away.

Crop any area of the photo that distracts from the main subject of the photo or the story that you are telling.

If you have any doubt what color to use for your mats, stick with a neutral color like white, cream or even black

Use Decorative Scissors To Create Distinctive Edges For Your Mats

X-Acto X2005 Designer Series Decorative Edge Scissors, Zig Zag Assortment, 7-1/2-Inch, 4 Pack, Multi-Colored
X-Acto X2005 Designer Series Decorative Edge Scissors, Zig Zag Assortment, 7-1/2-Inch, 4 Pack, Multi-Colored

I have about 20 pairs of decorative scissors that I use to add interest to my mats. Adding some edges with these decorative scissors creates a style that is all your own. I have had several different types, but have found the X-Acto scissors cut the best and last !


Single Mat

A single mat is one piece of paper or material between the scrapbook base page and your photo. It generally should be a solid color paper that will enhance the colors of your photo. If you use a precut mat, you simply will adhere the mat to the photo, centering it to the mat. Then you adhere the mat to the cardstock base.

Easy way to cut your own mat

  1. Select a color for your mat that matches your photo and the theme of your page
  2. Measure the photo with your ruler
  3. Add 1/4 of an inch to your measurements and cut the paper to fit. When you center the photo to the paper, it will make the mat edge to 1/8 "
  4. Mount the photo to the center of the mat and adhere

There is no rule how large an edge that your mat has to be, so get your creative juices going and create the mat that fits your layout. Your mat can also be 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, 1 inch and 2 inch (0.6 cm, 1.3 cm, 2.5 cm and 5 cm) borders.

Every scrapbook page that you create should have a focal point. Usually, that focal point should be one photo. You can, of course, mat the photo. You can also enlarge it to increase importance. Add contrast to it by using a contrasting color. keeoing this one design tip in mind will help you create gorgeous pages

Double Matting Tips - Add Depth To Your Scrapbook Pages

Double Matting gives a photo special or focal importance on your scrapbook page. The technique is simple. You mat the photo on a slightly larger piece of cardstock and then mat that onto another larger cardstock. You select the color based on the cardstock and patterned paper that you are using

You can add more than one or two layers of mats, Be careful about adding too much bulk to your mats.

  1. Create your first mat in a light color, such as white, that will highlight your photo. Choose a smaller size, such as a 1/4 or 1/8 inch (0.6 or 0.3 cm) border.
  2. Make a larger photo mat in a complimentary, but darker, color. Make it 1/4 to 2 inches larger than your first photo mat. You will need to double the border measurement and add it to your last mat's dimensions before cutting the new mat.

It's easy to make a double or triple mat. Make it 1/4 to 2 inches larger than your first photo mat. You will need to double the border measurement and add it to your last mat's dimensions before cutting the new mat.

Remember, to make the mat closest to the photo a solid color. You can use patterns between the first mat and your base cardstock

Anytime you are using a patterned paper, always use a solid color mat. Select the most prominent color in the pattern

Triple Matting Tips

With this technique you create the smallest mat closest to the picture, then a larger mat and then a smaller mat. This is a good technique if you are going to use patterned paper. You would use a neutral color paper, then printed paper, then neutral paper again. Try to avoid using a patterned paper directly against the picture.

  1. Measure and cut 3 mats. The first mat should be 1/8 inch (0.3 cm) larger than the photo on all sides. The second mat should be a 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) larger on all sides than the first mat in a different color. The last mat should be 1/8 inch (0.3 cm) larger than the second mat on all sides in the same color as the first mat.

  2. Glue the mats together and then affix the photo. This mat may need extra time to dry. There are many variations in sizes and shapes for this mat.

Window Or Frame Matting

Matting can be done from under the picture or on top of it. In window or frame matting, you add a frame or window made of cardstock on top of the picture instead of underneath. The frame or window can be cut by hand or it can be cut with a punch. The photograph should actually be bigger than the frame so that the frame covers the edge of the photo. An X-Acto knife is perfect for this type of mat. Click on the picture and you will learn more about this technique.

Die Cut machines are also a good resource for cutting mats

Don't limit yourself to just a straight line mat. Use a border edge punch to create a decorative mat

Washi Tape Adds Lot Of Style And Dimension To Your Scrapbook Mats

Cute Washi Tape Set - The Theme of Nature, 24 Different Designs About Floral Japanese Pastel , Decorative Masking Tape For Arts and DIY Crafts, Bullet Journal
Cute Washi Tape Set - The Theme of Nature, 24 Different Designs About Floral Japanese Pastel , Decorative Masking Tape For Arts and DIY Crafts, Bullet Journal

Washi tape is the perfect addition to your mats ! It can be added like patterned paper, just be cutting strips around a neutral boarder. This collection is one of my favorites. It will add a lot of dimension to all of your layouts


Offsetting Mats

Mats can be offset to add embellishments to one side or the other. Layer papers of the same shape in sequential angles for a dramatic effect or simply use multiple mats and place the photo to one side of the mat, hanging over the edge.

Torn Mats

Add texture to a mat layer by tearing along the edges. Use it between cut edges or layer several torn edges together for a soft effect.

Photo Mat Tips

There are lots of things that you can do to create beautiful scrapbook pages. Your photos are the centerpiece of every page that you make. Matting them makes each of your memories shine. Here are some of my favorite tips for all your matting and scrapbook pages

  • Anytime you cut a piece of scrapbook paper, save the remainder scrap paper in a file. These papers can be used foir matting to enhance your mats
  • If you want to use a printed paper on top of a solid scrapbook page, double mat the photos. Mat the photo on a solid color and then mat that on the printed paper. You will get a beautiful layered look and not take away anything from the picture
  • Use washi tape as a border for your mats

You can create photo corners to your mats and create design focus really easily. Cut fiur squares of contrasting paper. Mount them evenly behind your mats. they will look exactly like photo corners

Matting Photo Examples

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Single picture on preformatted scrapbook paperPhotos using embellishmentsPre-done layouts ready for winter photosSimple but effective layoutSingle photo focus pageMat made with the inkadinkadoo system
Single picture on preformatted scrapbook paper
Single picture on preformatted scrapbook paper
Photos using embellishments
Photos using embellishments
Pre-done layouts ready for winter photos
Pre-done layouts ready for winter photos
Simple but effective layout
Simple but effective layout
Single photo focus page
Single photo focus page
Mat made with the inkadinkadoo system
Mat made with the inkadinkadoo system

Add More Dimension To Your Mats

  • Use Colors To Add Dimension Use two colors or a variant of two tones to add more dimension to your layout.
  • Use Decorative Scissors Use a decorative scissor like a deckle scissor on your mat to add more layering to your projects
  • Add Embellishments To Your Mat I love to add rhinestones, flowers, stickers and beads. They give that needed pop of color to your layouts
  • Add Photo Corners To Your Mats Instead of using them to frame a photo add them to the corner of your mats. You can buy them or make them yourself.
  • Use Border Punches. Decorative border punches make perfect edges to your mats

More Than Straight Edges

Don't limit yourself to just straight edges on your mats ! Rip the edges of your paper. Fray the edges of materials or use decorative scissors to vary the edges of your mat.

Preformatted Papers and Mats For Scrapbooks - Quicker And Easier Ways To Create Scrapbook Layouts

Many times if I am creating a gift scrapbook for a wedding or a baby shower, or have way too many pages to create, I resort to preformatted mats and scrapbook pages. To do these, basically all you need is some scrapbook adhesive-I prefer the tape runners, some scissors and you are good to go !

More Photo Matting Ideas And Tips

Ramp Up Your Mats

You don't have to limit yourself to just paper to mat your photos. Think of other materials like fabric, dollies, lace, or any flat material that can be mounted to base cardstock.

Die Cuts With A View Adhesive Fabric Stack, 6-inches by 6-inches
Die Cuts With A View Adhesive Fabric Stack, 6-inches by 6-inches

I really like to add dimension to my scrapbook pages by using fabric. This fabric is made for scrapbooks and has adhesive built into it. I really like the ease of use- easy to cut and create a custom mat


More Matting and Scrapbook Layout Ideas

Here are my favorite go to articles and resources is scrapbook page design. Since matting and layout design go hand in hand, learning about both will help you create special pages of your fondest memories

Create Mats On Electronic Cutting Machines

If you have an electronic cutting machine, you can make mats in minutes. Most of these machines, like the Cricut has a shapes feature. You can chose the square or rectangle. Size it to fit your photograph and cut it to fit. Easy way to make multi layered mats. Once you create these mats, you can save them for future use. You can also precut mats for future use

© 2013 Linda F Correa

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