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Matting Photos In Scrapbooks

Updated on June 19, 2017
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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
  • Cardstock or precut mats


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

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

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.

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. Measure the photo with your ruler
  2. 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 "
  3. 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

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 And Multi 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.

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

Frame Mat Made With Xacto Knife
Frame Mat Made With Xacto Knife

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

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

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.

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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