Frame, Matte and Print size explained

Quick. If you want a 14x16" frame, what print size should you get?

Well, you may say, if I know the answer, I won't be reading this article.

The quick rule of thumb is to minus 6". So go back to our question, if you want to buy a 14x16" frame, you want a 8x10" print to go with it.

Here is a more detailed example

A detailed breakdown of print, matte and frame size for a 8x10" print
  1. Artwork Size: 14x11".
  2. Matboard opening size: substract .5". So the Matte opening is 13.5x10.5"
  3. Matboard width: 2" on each side.
  4. Frame timber width: 3" for standard frame and 2" for box frame.

Print Size

measure the visual area of the art work you want to mat. For example 11"x14". this is the actual image you want to show. The art work size is typically 1/2" larger than the opening so you can have an overlap to stick the art work to the back of the mat.

Matte/Border

also referred to as the window, it is the space reserved for the art work. The opening size is typically 1/2" smaller (1/4" around the borders) than the art work so that there is an overlap for the art to be attached to the back of the matboard. The opening size is measured from the TOP of the bevel cut.

Depending on your picture size, a 2 - 3 inch mat (i.e. mat border on each side) is what we would consider a minimum mat but you can go bigger. A small mat will give the impression of cramping your picture, a larger one will open the image up and give it a bit more "breathing" room. We find that a good rule of thumb is whatever size you think your mat should be, add an inch!

Standard mat window openings are cut slightly smaller than the actual image size — this is called “cropping” the image. The opening is smaller in order to cover the edge of the image or any surrounding white border if it is a print. This is both an aesthetic (it looks better) and a practical choice; you don’t want the image to fall through the window opening if it’s cut too large!

Standard, off-the-shelf frames that come with mats usually crop ¼ inch on all four sides. Frame Destination cuts our popular size mat windows 1/8-inch smaller than the image to allow for maximum exposure of your image without a loss of detail. For images that are larger than 18” x 24”, our standard crop is ¼-inch. Example: Your image measures exactly 8” x 10”. This is the actual image size, exclusive of any white borders, if it is a print. If you choose an 8” x 10” mat in one of our popular sizes, the actual window opening size will be 7 3/4” x 9 3/4”, which crops 1/8-inch of the image on all four sides.

Example: Your image measures exactly 8” x 10”. This is the actual image size, exclusive of any white borders, if it is a print. If you choose an 8” x 10” mat in one of our popular sizes, the actual window opening size will be 7 3/4” x 9 3/4”, which crops 1/8-inch of the image on all four sides.

Opening Width & Height

This is where you tell us how wide and high to make the opening in your mat. When you specify the size for your mat opening you need to make it a little smaller than the artwork itself. We recommend that you overlap your artwork at least 1/4" on every side, meaning that 1/4” of your artwork will be hidden behind the mat in your finished product. To accomplish this, simply measure the width of your artwork and subtract ½” inch from that number in order to determine the appropriate width for your mat; do the same for the height. We will cut your opening to the exact measurement you specify.

As an example, if your artwork is exactly 8 x 10 and it is going into a 16 x 20 frame, then you would order a 16 x 20 mat with a 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 opening. We recommend making the mat a half inch smaller unless your image goes to the edge of the picture, then you could go 7 3/4 x 9 3/4. The more over lap you have on the mat, the easier it is to attach your picture.

Bottom Weighted

For years mats have been weighted on the bottom. This practice started when pictures were hung higher then eye level. If the margins where the same all around, the bottom mat would look smaller due to an optical allusion. To remedy that, the bottom mat was made a little larger. These days pictures tend to be hung lower so it is not such an issue. However there is a trend to exaggerate the bottom margin on vertical pictures to give a piece a "gallery" look. This is a nice look but to pull it off you have to make the bottom margin significantly larger, by an inch or more. This does not work so well with horizontal pictures.

Frame Size

Outer Size: Do you already have a frame? YES: measure the outside of the glass in the frame to get your outer size. There should be at least a 1" border for the mat, but preferably 2-3". NO: if possible, select an outer size that is standard (11"x14",16"x20",18"x24" etc.), as it will be much easier to get a frame. For example, 11"x14" art work would work well with a 16"x20" frame, 8"x10" artwork with 11"x14" frame etc.

should match the size of the glass in your picture frame. If it's not being framed, any outside size you like can be had. Typically mat sheets come in 32x40 and you will be charged extra for an oversized mat.

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