Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to Choose Mat Colors for your Pictures - Part 4

3. Mat Border Sizes
A last but key element in choosing mats is to determine how wide the mat borders should be around your image. Once again the rule of matting to draw your eye to the focus of the picture can be your guide. Too wide and all you see is mat. Too narrow and the mat will seem cheap or unnecessary.

Some professionals have a comfort level with a simple percentage – i.e. 15 - 20% of the smallest dimension of the image should be the mat border. Using this rule an image that is 24” x 30” would have a minimum mat border of 3.6” and a maximum of 4.8” – probably rounded off to 5”. This would provide enough weight around the image without taking away from the picture.
Others are less exacting and often through experience have found certain border sizes to work well with certain image sizes. For example – they always like a 2.5” border on images that are between 8” x 10” and 9’ x 12” and a 3.5” border on images that are larger than 9” x 12” - say up to around 16” x 20”.

There is no set rule here. In fact some photographers with strikingly dramatic photos often will mat their gallery images with huge borders that serve to isolate the image from the entire wall and region around it and allow the viewer to focus more clearly.
Experiment with what works best for you – but keep in mind that your goal is to get the viewer to look at the image – not the mat.

Artwork by Lynn Blaikie - Island Art Publishers - Photograph Unknown

Want to practice matting for free? Try the MatoMatic framing tool at www.matshop.com. You can upload your own picture or choose from one of their gallery images and try different mats and mat combinations, frames and even background wall colors while you design your own projects.


Tamara said...

This 4 part series on "choosing mat colors for your pictures" has been most helpful. Direct, clear and supported by excellent examples that clearly demonstrate the advice given.

Thank you!

Myron D. Arndt said...

Thanks Tamara. I am glad you found it helpful. I appreciate your comment.

The Parkers said...

I agree, great information. I am trying to decide what color and size of mat I should use with 26 x 38 posters that I will soon order. Currently, I have white walls, and they will remain that way. My husband is also in the military so we move a lot and white is very common. Is a white border around the print going to be too much white? The prints itself are very colorful and warm.

Myron D. Arndt said...

To the Parkers. The idea of leaving a white border around prints when framing was often done so that the artists signature and title - which was usually in the white space below the image - could be seen. Otherwise if there is nothing written in the border of the posters you are framing and you feel the white may be too much - I would recommend you mat right up to the image. That way you won't worry about white space fighting with white walls. You will also want to choose a darker mat border that is also neutral like a gray or black so that as you move - it will not clash with other wall coverings.