Out of Bounds Effect in PS Elements

Recently I posted the image below on the DPS forum and a few people asked me how it was done. So I though I’d write a how to. I used Photoshop Elements 6 but you can do it any software that can uses layers and masks

Junk Picture

The effect is called “Out of Bounds” or sometimes “3D Border Breakout”. First off you need to pick a suitable picture. Photos with a strong subject help, one that has some depth in the frame. Movement is also good but make sure your subject is sharp otherwise it won’t look great later on. There are a few different ways to get to the end product so this isn’t a definitive guide, it may not even be the easiest way but it works.

Create the Frame

Create a new blank layer above the background layer containing your photo. Using the rectangular marquee tool draw a rectangle over the image roughly where the frame is going to be.  Use the Fill Selection action (Edit>Fill Selection) to fill the square with the colour of your frame (I chose white). Your image will now have a white rectangle over your image. Without deselecting your original rectangle contract the selection by the width of your frame (Select>Modify>Contract), on the image above I used 60 pixels but each image will be different. Press delete to remove the centre of your rectangle, leaving you with a rectangular frame.

Distort the Frame

To give the frame the 3D effect with the frame layer selected use the distort or perspective adjustments (Image>Transform>Distort or Image>Transform >Perspective). Grab and move the corners of your frame until it is in the shape and position that you want. Its really just trail and error to get it right but think about which parts of the image will be “Out of Bounds” when you do.

Create the Background

Create a new blank layer above the background but below the frame layer. Using the gradient tool to fill this layer with a transition between two colours. I have used two pastel shades of green, one slightly darker than the other, shades of grey also work well. It also looks more natural if you create the gradient diagonally. You should now just have your frame on your background with none of your photo visible.

Put the Picture in the Frame

Duplicate the background layer, position it on top of the frame layer and create a layer mask for this layer. To use a layer mask in PSE position a levels layer below the layer to be masked and group the two layers (ctrl + G), you can then “borrow” the levels layers mask for the photo layer. Now fill this layer mask with black to mask the whole layer. With the frame layer active use the Magic Wand tool to click inside the frame, selecting the area inside your frame. Now reactivate your layer mask on the photo layer and fill your selection with white. This will reveal the portion of the image in the frame. Like so…


Create the Out of Bounds Bit

This is the clever bit! (Its really simple actually but shush, don’t tell anyone.) All you need to do is paint white on the layer mask you just created to reveal the image below. I normally create the correct shape using a combination of the Brush tool or the Quick Selection tool. In this image I used a soft brush on the water to create the feather into the background and the Quick Selection tool on the cliffs to create the hard cut out. Play around a bit until to get the correct bits poking out of the frame.


Create the Frame’s Shadow

Create a new blank layer above the solid back drop layer but below the frame and change the blending mode to multiply. Again using the magic wand tool select the area of the frame, right up to the outside edge this time. With the new blank layer active fill the selection with black. Now move this layer slightly so the black pokes out beyond the frame in the position of the shadow. It will look a bit “solid” so you need to blur this layer. With the slayer selected create a Gaussian Blur (Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur), you will need to play with the slider until the blur creates a natural shadow look. You can also reduce the opacity of the layer to make the shadow less harsh, its just a case of trial and error. If the OOB portions of your image also needs a shadow you can paint this onto the shadow layer before you get to the Gaussian Blur stage using the Brush tool.

That’s it. Once you are finished your layers pallet should look something like this. (I have also added some text layers so “sign” the image.)


Leaving you with the final image.

Junk Picture

Have a go, I’m sure you will love it.

Here are a few more I have done but they aren’t as good. The pool one is an example of why the subject needs to be sharp and neither have a gradient on the background which just doesn’t look as good.

Liberty OOB

Into the light

10 Responses to “Out of Bounds Effect in PS Elements”

  1. 1 picsfoo 1 February 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Great work and thanks for the tips.

  2. 2 min 14 April 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Ithought this would be really complicated to do,your’ explanation makes it more appealing to have a try,I have pse5 so not sure about the layer mask part,thank you for sharing this info.
    kind regards

  3. 3 James Fletcher 15 April 2009 at 4:11 pm

    You can do layer masks in PSE 5 in the same way as 6. Give it a go.

  4. 4 Aidy 14 May 2009 at 2:27 am

    Hello James, love the site and you give some great tips, I’m quite new to the digital photography world I’ve always used film and darkrooms in the past but enjoying finding my way around new stuff, I loved this project as I used to do some montage work a while back with film, so I gave it a go, I done 2 versions of the same picture 1 with the solid colour background as you have and then tried it again with another picture background, not sure what you would think but I was pleased with the results for a 1st attempt, I’ve added my flickr page if you want to take a look, any advice would be welcomed.
    Thanks again


  5. 5 Rick Berber 13 August 2009 at 9:25 pm

    FINALLY a tutorial that makes sense and can be done by the average person who is a noobie.

    (from Los Angeles,CA)

  6. 6 Sara 19 April 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Hey James, Thank you for posting this tutorial, however I must be missing something, I have tried these steps many times & am just not getting it. Is it possible you left out a step?
    I am using PSE 8. Thanks, Sara

  7. 7 speeding 11 August 2011 at 12:50 am

    Would you mind enabling rss feeds, because this page is difficult to read on my phone. Don’t mean to be a complainer, but I figure if it would help me it would probably help others as well. Thanks 🙂

  1. 1 Progressing to the Next Level - Photoshop « Fletch’s Photo Blog Trackback on 8 March 2009 at 5:10 pm
  2. 2 marcschilling.com » Out of Bounds « Trackback on 11 August 2009 at 7:58 pm
  3. 3 The Digi Dares » Blog Archive » Digi Dare #160 Two Week Deadline! Trackback on 18 December 2009 at 4:40 am

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Welcome to my blog

I am an amatuer photographer living in Sheffield, England. My blog will detail my photography journey, from fumbling beginer to, hopefully one day, competant and knowledgeable photographer

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