How to Add a Black or Coloured Border to Photos using Affinity Photo

In this short tutorial, I’ll explain how to add a black or coloured border to photos using Affinity Photo. To do this you will first need to know how to add a border to a photo by resizing the document Canvas. If you don’t know how to do this, I’ve prepared a short, step by step tutorial you can follow.

By the way, you can also do the same thing using Photoshop and using Lightroom as I explain in these tutorials.

Affinity Photo Trial Software

If you don’t have the latest version of Affinity Photo you can download a trial from the Affinity Photo website.

Adding a Black Border to a Photo Step by Step

Step One – Open your Photo and Resize the Canvas

All images that you open in Affinity Photo sit on a Canvas. By default, the Canvas is the same size as the image. This means the image covers the Canvas so that you don’t see it. To add our border to the photo we need to resize the canvas so that it extends around the edges of the image and we can see it.

You can resize the Canvas using the Affinity Photo “Document” menu in the Photo Persona. There you can select the “Resize Canvas…” option to open the dialog where you can enter the new Canvas size. You should then have an image with a white or transparent border.

Image in Affinity Photo with a transparent border added

If you’re unsure how to use these options, I’ve published a short tutorial explaining how to do this.

Step Two –  Select and Configure the Rectangle Tool

We now need to add a Black Rectangle to the photo which covers the resized Canvas.

Start by selecting the Rectangle Tool from the Affinity Photo Tools Palette found on the left side of the Photo Persona.

Selecting the Affinity Photo Rectangle Shape Tool

After selecting the Rectangle Tool in the Affinity Tools Palette, you will see the configuration options in the Context Sensitive Toolbar.

In the Context Sensitive Toolbar click the Fill colour swatch and set it to black if it isn’t already. This will fill the rectangle we create with black paint.

You can also set the Stroke in the toolbar to use black or better still, not to add a stroke at all. The Stroke is a line that appears around the outside of the rectangle. We’ll return to use this later in the tutorial.

Step Three – Add a Rectangle

Now we need to draw the new rectangle covering the photo Canvas.

To do this position your mouse pointer over the top left corner of the Canvas. Now click and drag with the mouse, down to the bottom right corner. As you drag you will see the black rectangle appear.

When complete this should cover image and the canvas entirely.

Step Four – Move the Image in the Layers Panel

We now have a black rectangle covering the image. If you look at the Layers Studio Panel you will see the Rectangle is the top layer (number 1) and the image is on the bottom (number 2).

Affinity Photo Layers Studio Panel

We need to reorder these layers, so the image is on the top and the rectangle below it. We can do this by clicking and dragging the layers with our mouse.

Click the image layer with your mouse. Continue to hold down the mouse button and drag the layer to position it above the Rectangle layer. Affinity Photo will indicate when you can drop the layer on top by highlighting the position. Release the mouse to reorder the layers.

affinity photo showing the photo with a black border added

You should now see the image with a black border added.

Step Five – Export the Photo

Now you can select to export the photo and its border to an image file. From the Affinity Photo menu select “File” and then “Export”. This opens the export dialog. Select and configure the file format you want to use and then export the finished photo.

Changing the Border Colour

If you want to add a coloured border to your photo rather than black, the process is the same. But instead of selecting the Fill for the Rectangle to be black you would select another colour.

It’s also easy to change the black rectangle to another colour once you’ve added it to the photo. If you completed the above example, try the following additional steps.

  • Click the black Rectangle layer to select it in the Layers Studio panel.
  • Select the Rectangle Tool in the Tools Palette on the left side of the Photo Persona if it’s not already selected.
  • Click on the Fill colour swatch in the Context Sensitive Toolbar. This opens the colour picker where you can change the colour to add a coloured border to the photo.
changing the colour of the border

This screenshot shows I’m using the HSL Colour Wheel to pick a colour in the Colour tab. If you don’t like this, you can switch to one of the other picker tools in the dropdown list. Alternatively, you could move to the Swatches or even Gradient tab to use those tools.

Adding a Coloured Stroke Border to the Photo

In addition to setting the Fill colour of the border you can change the colour of the Stroke. This works in the same way as the Fill colour option. Click on the Stroke colour swatch and then use the colour pickers to choose a colour.

The only additional step is that you also need to set the Width of the Stroke using the option in the Context Sensitive Toolbar.

Selecting the Stroke colour and width for the photo border

Clicking the stroke line in the toolbar opens a dialog where you can set the width of the line. In this screenshot example I’ve set the stroke line to be white and 17 pixels wide.

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In this short tutorial we’ve looked at how to add a black border to a photo using the Affinity Photo Rectangle Tool. This first requires we enlarge the Canvas so that it’s larger than the image. By using the Rectangle and then positioning the small image on top of it we add a border to the photo. It’s then possible to change the colour of the rectangle to produce different coloured photos.

More Affinity Photo Tutorials

You’ll find more high quality, free tutorials on my Affinity Photo Tutorials page.

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