Frames and borders with Lightroom 2

Update 7/26/2009: There are some fantastic new features of LR2/Mogrify to check out:

  • Relative-sized borders (which I’ve written about before) are super.
  • As is relative-sized annotation text. No more calculating your scaled text size to apply to an export, since you can set the size to a percentage of image width or height. Very cool. (This goes for watermarks, too)
  • More border features! A checkbox for “identical borders” makes it much easier to set uniform borders. And inner borders are now supported for the creation of an inset frame with variable opacity.
  • Setting compression by file size: Specify a file size and LR2/Mogrify will compress the image accordingly so as not to exceed that file size.

Give these a try and don’t forget to donate to Timothy’s work if you find it of use.

Also, note that you can use Lightroom’s post-crop vignette feature to generate curved borders (in black or white) with less flexibility but also without plugins.

Update 12/21/2008: Much of this writeup now has more historical than practical value, since Timothy Armes has updated LR2/Mogrify to support multiple border options within the plugin’s own control panel. You can specify different-sized frames & borders without any extra monkeying around. Nice work, Tim!

A question recently came up in one of the Lightroom groups over on flickr about creating images with large borders on just one side — space within a frame to place a title, for example, but just along a single edge of an image. The poster wanted to create images such as those found here, and wondered if it was doable without diving out to an external tool like Photoshop. The first working proposal was to use a graphical frame applied in the print module, but that isn’t an ideal solution for me; it still requires setting up that frame with something like Photoshop, and to apply it you have to switch modes. So I tinkered a while with a photo I took a couple of nights ago, and managed to get what I think is a nice solution via a direct export from Lightroom using the fantastic LR2/Mogrify plugin from Timothy Armes.

The out-of-the-box options for this plugin don’t provide a capability to create different-sized borders to an image, but the underlying engine for the plugin, Imagemagick’s mogrify tool, does — after a fashion. So, in a nutshell, the trick is to use the command line element of LR2/Mogrify in addition to its other features, to add to the picture’s canvas size before performing the other operations.

Monte Vista neon

There are just a couple of tricks to get this to work smoothly using LR2/Mogrify. First is to add the extent command to the mogrify configuation, specifying the resulting size of the image you want to export:

I’ve specified the command -background white -extent 3008×2158 to be prepended to the mogrify command line that LR2/Mogrify will execute for me. I’m exporting an original image that’s 3008×2008, so I’ve specified 2008×2158 to the final image — adding 150 pixels, which will be filled with a white background. Next I use the built-in features of LR2/Mogrify to add the colored frames and the text overlay.

Because the extent command was applied to the beginning of the command line, the borders will be applied to the new image — the one with the bigger lower border created by extent.

The text overlay is just a bit strange. Note that instead of specifying the text to fall at the bottom, I’ve placed it at the top center of the image, with an offset of 2158 pixels. For some reason, directly placing it at the bottom center reverses the position of the new white border — it ends up at the top of the image, through some kink of mogrify that I can’t quite sort. It’s easy enough to compensate with the offset.

Export away, and that’s all it takes. You’ve built an image with a nice broad frame and caption, all right from Lightroom’s export panel. No Photoshop or print module necessary. Fun.