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How to Center and Frame a Print or Picture

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

teenage boy and paint horse quarter horse with blue eyes
I blame these two! Photo Credit, Michael Pearce, San Diego

I'm pretty sure that you already know I have horse problems. My Phone was full of photos of my kids till I bought my first horse. Since then I've gotten apps about horses, read books about horses, listened to books about horses, watched videos about training horses, Google'd things like, "how to get my stinkin' stubborn horse to load into the trailer," and "symptoms of equine colic..." you see where this is going? Eventually I will get to the point: How to Center and Frame a Print or Picture... but if I didn't give you the backstory I wouldn't be me. In 2018 or 2019, my dad painted an acrylic on oak of our horse T-bone. T was our first horse. My son, Evan, 17, was diagnosed with high-functioning Autism when he was four or five. He has been verbal since he was eight months old, is freaky-smart, and can do most things that typical kids do. But he knows his limits, and doesn't care to do some of the social things that most teenagers do. So in that respect, I am fortunate. It was like I gave birth to a middle-aged man, and now he's older-middle-aged. We met T-bone when Evan was struggling to learn to ride English, and I made the executive decision to find a horse he could ride Western. Western riding has fewer nit-picky things to frustrate him. Back to the painting of T. I asked my dad to paint him for a wall in our entry. However, when the painting arrived, my son claimed it as his own. It's been in his room since, and I've had to find my own artwork. I just built some bookcases for my living room because I don't have an office for my Equine Assisted Therapy business, and I needed file storage. Above those shelves I want to add images of horses. I have a few sources for images. My favorite is Creative Market. Etsy is another that I like, but Etsy launches a new tab every time I click on something I like, and that BUGS me. Eventually I have a million tabs open, and I get overwhelmed. I chose a few of my favorite watercolor horses, dug out my supplies, and got to work:

marker, tape, frame, image, and scissors
  • 5x7 gold frame, but you can choose any size and color you like;

  • Marker for tracing;

  • Tape;

  • Image.

photo frame
Disassemble and clean the frame and glass

To get started, I took my frame apart and cleaned the glass. I used the hem of my t-shirt, but you can be an adult and get a paper towel and glass cleaner if you like. Frankly, I don't care for adulting, and if you do that's great... Just bear in mind that you may not enjoy my company as much as you would enjoy others. I used the gold spacer-thingy that separates the glass from the image (I think these may be shadow box frames) to find the portion of the image I wanted to see, and determine its placement inside the frame.

photo of person tracing frame over horse print
No clue what that smudge is on my finger! I'd say ink, but I was using a red pen.

As you do this step, keep in mind that humans and animals need to be placed so they look into the frame. It's got to have room in front of the image to step into the open space. It just feels better that way. If I had placed my horse further to the right of the spacer-thingy it would not have looked as pleasing. Also, keep in mind the "rule of thirds" about images. There are hundreds of thousands of explanations online.

frame placement for watercolor print
Frame Placement for Watercolor Print

After tracing the spacer-thingy, I cut out the image.

person cutting printed image of horse
Cut the image on the lines you traced

I like to tape my images to a matte or in this case, spacer-thingy. Nothing makes me crazier than a print that jiggles around in the frame.

person adding tape to image of horse
Add tape to back edges of print after it's cut

I folded the tape over the outside edge of the - you guessed it - spacer-thingy... and then reassembled the frame.

person assembling a print in a frame
Fold tape over edges of matte so image stays in place

In the end I was left with two watercolor prints that are framed in gold. I have a few more to frame, but those will be a bit different. My next post may be how I filled a gallery wall with mis-matched frames if I remember to take photos of the process!

person holding framed horse watercolor image
Voila! Your image is now framed!

Let me know if this is a project you will try, and if you do, send some photos! I'd love to see!


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