How to Add an Image Border in Lightroom

by Mar 25, 2020Photo Editing Tutorials

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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How to Add an Image Border in Lightroom

In this tutorial I’ll explain how to add a border to an image using only Lightroom. You can see a few examples of images where I’ve added borders below.

Example image Borders added in Lightroom

Here you can see example images with different borders I added in Lightroom. Whilst there’s the standard black or white border, you can use any colour you like. Once you’ve completed the basic setup that I explain below, it becomes quick and easy to add a boarder to any image. I’ve also included a short video demonstration later in this tutorial.

You may have been hoping to add a more complex border to an image like the following.

Complex border examples added with the Nik Collection and Exposure X5

If you were, I have a couple of alternatives for you (one paid for and one free) later in this tutorial.

Quick Steps to Add an Image Border in Lightroom

If you don’t want to read the entire tutorial or just need a refresher, here are the steps in brief:

  1. In Lightroom select the image you want to add a border to.
  2. Switch to the Lightroom Print module if you’re in another module.
  3. In the settings on the right side, select the Print Job panel and set this to print to a JPEG File.
  4. Using the Print Job panel also enter the size, resolution and quality of the image.
  5. In the “Image Settings” panel click the option to add a “Stroke Border”. You can also select the image border colour here.
  6. Click the Print to File… button.
  7. Select where to save the image.

Now read on to learn about these steps in detail as well as other time-saving options.

Selecting Your Images in Lightroom

It’s quite likely that you’ll want to add an image border to more than one image. You may want to a batch of images at one time or over several days. Lightroom has a few features that help you do this and which I’ll explain throughout this tutorial.

If you only want to add a border to one image, find and click the image to select it. But if you want to select multiple images, possibly from different folders, you can make life easy by using a Lightroom Collection. This tutorial I wrote will help you learn more about organising your photography using Lightroom Collections.

Collections allow you to group multiple images together without moving them. You can do this even if the images are in different folders. You’ll find the Collections panel on the left in the Lightroom Library module.

Adding a new collection to hold your images before adding borders

To create a new Collection, click the icon numbered 1. You can then enter the name of your new collection. In this example I’ve called it “Add Image Border”.

Once you’ve set up a collection folder you can drag and drop your images onto the collection in the Collections panel. Now when you click the collection in the panel, Lightroom all the images that you’ve added in the Library grid.

Now you can switch to using the Print module which is where we’ll add the image border.

Configuring the Lightroom Print Module

In the Lightroom Print Module it’s very important you configure the “Print Job” settings BEFORE you add the image border. These settings control the output for the finished image as well as the size and quality. You’ll find the “Print Job” panel at the bottom of the list of panels on the right.

Location of the Lightroom Print Job panel

At the top of the Print Job panel you’ll see the option of where to “Print to”. This is probably set to “Printer” in which case you need to change it to “JPEG file”. This means Lightroom will produce a JPEG image file rather than send the image to your printer.

Controlling the Image Size

I’m going to assume that you’re adding a border to your image because you want to share it on the internet or social media. If you are, you’ll probably want to resize. You could do this by changing the paper size using Lightroom’s “Page Setup…” button. If you can’t find the paper size, you want (that’s quite possible) you can set a custom size for your image in the Lightroom Print Job panel. This is my preferred and recommend option because it gives the most flexibility.

Setting the custom size for an image when output from the Lightroom print module

Here you can see the Print Job panel which has been set to print to a JPEG file. In area 1, you have the option to set a “Custom file dimension”. This is currently set to 16.53” x 11.69”. If you look at the image preview in the centre of the screenshot you can see it has a dimension of 7×4.667 inches.

For this tutorial I’m going to set paper size to 5” x 7” which will be the size of the image produces. This is a different aspect ratio to my selected image which is 3:2. When I save it to a JPEG it will have white space at the top and bottom of the page. You’ll see this later as well as an easy way to fix the problem.

Image quality settings

To add a border to an image in Lightroom it’s not necessary to adjust any of the quality settings. The reason I’ve included them is because they give you flexibility. They can also help you in other ways like reducing the size of the file, making it better for sharing on the internet. If you’re not bothered about this skip to the next section below.

Look back to the screenshot and you’ll see the quality settings labelled 2. The file resolution controls the number of points per inch (ppi) in the JPEG image when saved. If you want to share your image on the Internet, you’re probably best to set a value of 72 or 96 here. These are good defaults for internet viewing.

Next is the option for Print Sharpening. Unless you’re producing an image that you’re sending to an online print lab, just set this to Standard sharpening with the Media Type set to either Matte or Gloss.

The JPEG quality slider controls how much you compress the image. The more compression you apply, the lower the resulting image quality. But although compressing an image lowers its quality, it also makes it much smaller and more suited for sharing on the internet or social media. A value between 50 and 70 is usually a good starting position.

Controlling the Image Layout

Below you can see a screenshot of Lightroom after applying the quality and size settings.

image in Lightroom after size and quality settings have been applied

If you look at the edges of the image frame in the screenshot above, you’ll see a narrow white gap. Before we add the border to our image, we should fix this using the Layout panel.

changing the settings in Lightroom's Layout Panel

In this next screenshot, if you look at the layout panel on the right you can see that the margins are all set to 0. This ensures the image is free to extend all the way to the edges of the page and there won’t be a gap.

When the margins are set to 0, the Cell Size sliders can be set to their maximum of 5” and 7”. These are the maximum values because that’s the custom page size we set earlier. The Cell is what holds the image and we want it to be the same as the paper size.

After applying these settings, the main image extended to the side of the paper on the left and right. Unfortunately, there’s still a small white gap at the top and bottom of the page. The different aspect ratio of the image compared to the paper size we set caused this. We’ll fix the problem in the next step when we add the image border to this photo.

Adding the border to the Image

In this next step we are going to add a border to the image and fix the problem with the photo not covering the entire page.

forcing the image to fill the page in lightroom with the Zoom to Fit option

In this screenshot you can see the image and now covers the entire page and there’s no gap. To do this, click the “Zoom to fill” option in the Image Settings panel. This causes the image height and width to increase so that it fills the page. The only downside to doing this is that we’ve lost a small amount from either edge of the image.

We’re now ready to add our border to the image. We’ll do this using the “Stroke border” option.

to add a border to an image in Lightroom use the stroke border option and set the width

Here you can see I’ve selected the Stroke Border option and set the Width to 5pt. This adds a thick black border to the image. You can control the thickness of this image border using the width slider. The best width to use will depend on the size of the image you’re generating.

Changing the Image Border Colour

Although we used black for our image example in this tutorial, you can change the border to colour to anything you like. You can do this by click in the colour swatch, to the right of the Width slider (see number 1 below). This displays a colour picker dialog.

Selecting a colour for the image border in lightroom

When the colour picker dialog first displays, it may display only black and white. It really depends on the current swatch colour. If it’s only showing black and white, click and drag the slider on the right (number 2) from the bottom to the top. As you do this, you’ll see the colours appear in the picker. You can then click on a colour (number 3) to set it as the colour for the image border.

Finished Image with a Border

You’ve now configured everything you need to and it’s time to save the image to a JPEG file. To do this click the “Print to File…” button at the bottom right of the Lightroom interface. This displays a Save dialog where you can set the name of the file and its location.

Once you’ve saved the image as a JPEG, if you open it, you’ll see that it has an image border.

Example 5 image with black Border added

It’s now very easy to produce other photos with the same image border. Along the bottom of the Lightroom interface, you will see all the images in your current folder or Collection displayed as a film strip.

Lightroom print module showing the available images to have a border added

When you click on any image to select it, it will have the same border added to it and you can save it to a file using the “Print to File…” button. It’s also possible to select multiple files and then save them all to JPEG files.

When you select and save multiple files, Lightroom generates a folder rather than a single image file. In the folder you will find individual images, each with a unique name and each having a border added.

Saving a Lightroom Image Border Setup

Having gone through this exercise, you might not want to repeat it next time you want to add a border to an image. Lightroom fortunately has an option you can use to save the print layout for future use.

If you look to the top right of the image in the Lightroom interface, you’ll see the “Create Saved Print” button. Clicking this displays the “Create Print” dialog shown below.

Saving a Print Layout with a border in Lightroom

Now you can enter the name of your print as well as the Location to save it. In this example I’ve selected to save the print inside the “Add Image Border” Collection I created earlier.

To use the saved print layout, drag and drop images onto it. Each image will then have the saved image border added. This can be a huge time saver.

How to Add an Image Border in Lightroom Video

I’ve also produced an accompanying video to help you understand how to use Lightroom’s features to add an image border.

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

You can also watch this video on my YouTube channel. I publish a new video every week, often based on subscribers’ requests and feedback. Subscribe to my YouTube channel now and be sure not to miss future videos.

Limitations and Alternatives to Using Lightroom

Whilst we’ve covered a lot of ways to control adding an image border in Lightroom, there’s still a restriction. Lightroom only allows you to add a simple image border that’s a solid colour. It’s quite possible you were hoping to add an image border that looks something like the one below.

Example Border added to an image with Nik Silver Efex Pro from the nik collection

I added this border to the image using Nik Silver Efex Pro in the Nik Collection. Both Silver Efex Pro and Analog Efex Pro have some nice borders you can add to an image. And whilst the latest version of the Nik Collection costs money, you can still get the old Nik Collection for free.

But if you don’t mind spending money, another great alternative to Lightroom for adding an image border is the Exposure Software. Here’s an example of our image with a border I added using Exposure X5.

Example Border added using Exposure x5

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Summary of How to Add an Image Border in Lightroom

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this tutorial. If you’ve been following along you should now know how to add a border to an image in Lightroom. You should also feel comfortable in controlling the image border.

We’ve also looked at several time saving tips. These include saving your image border settings to add to images in the future. And you should understand how to apply your border to multiple images at the same time.

Finally, if you were disappointed by the lack of flexibility in Lightroom’s border, you have two alternatives in the Nik Collection and Exposure Software.

I hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful and if you have any questions please add them to the comments section below.

More Lightroom Tutorials

You’ll find more high quality, free tutorials on my Adobe Lightroom Tutorials page.

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