Skip to main content

How to Create Photo Mats for Scrapbooking

Learn how to create photo mats in this Howcast scrapbooking tutorial featuring expert Carla Sylvester.


When you're designing your scrapbook pages, very often you'll want to have a photo really pop off the page, and one great way to do that is by matting the photo. And, matting the photo, also, makes it more important. So, when you have your page, you want to have a focal point. You want to have one place where your eye goes first. If you mat a photo, it's one way of adding importance to that photo so your eye will go there. So, here's how you're going to mat your photo: I've got my photo and the color I've selected for my mat and here's how I do it. There are definitely different ways to mat your photo, but what I find easiest is to turn my photo over and apply adhesive to the back first.

So, I'm just applying that tape runner to all four corners and then I'm going to align the corner of my photo with the corner of my paper, just to about an eighth of an inch. A good size photo mat is generally about an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch, just depending on what you're doing for just a really simple mat. Depending on circumstances, you might find other reasons to do other sizes, but that's a very typical size. So, I've got my eighth of an inch, and by the way I'm just eyeballing this, it doesn't take very long before you get to figure out what is an eighth of an inch or a quarter of an inch.

But, you've got an eighth of an inch there and there, and then I'm sliding the paper over until I can see where my blade on my paper trim is going to cut the bottom of my mat at about an eighth of an inch. If I'm not sure, here's a kind of a little cheat that I do: I slide my blade up and then I put the arm down and I just very gently give it a little tap. When I lift that up, I can just barely see where the blade nicked that paper and if it's not quite where I want it, I can move just a tiny bit and that nick will not show if I have it in the wrong place. Then, I just slide the blade up, and I've created the mat for one side of the photo, and then I go and do the other side.This way you're only having to cut two sides of the mat. I've seen people try to put a photo right in the middle of the page and measure around it.

That's way too hard, so just put that photo right up against there. Again, we're going to look and kind of get a gauge for where that mat will be. Once you get to know your paper trimmer, you'll know, for example, if the edge of this plastic arm, that's pretty much where you want your photo to be in order for the blade to give you the width of a mat that you want. It's going to vary from trimmer to trimmer, so once you get to know what your trimmer does, you'll have a better feel for what size mat you can cut without even thinking, without even doing that little blade trick. So, that's my matted photo, and I want to give you just a couple of other thoughts on photo mats. Here is another photo that we just matted, so you can see how that's going to really pop when it's on a darker colored background. Now, here's a page, that has two mats and the photos are the same size, the mats are the same size, and they kind of form a joint focal point as opposed to one standing out more than the other. Here we have a page that has one photo matted and one isn't, and so you can kind of see that the photo with the mat becomes more of a focal point on the page. It stands out a little bit more and it's totally fine to have some photos matted, some not.

You just want to think about which really stands out on the page. Also, you can think about varying the width of the mats on your photos, and here is an example of that. So, you don't have to just stick with that one eighth of an inch all the way around. A really nice look, especially if you're trying to, again, add importance to the photo, is do a thinner mat, and then a wider mat, and then a thinner mat again. So, there's just some thoughts on what you can do about matting your photos.

Popular Categories