MBP Fine art Border Tools User Manual

FAB Tools User Manual


Thank you for using the MBP Fine Art Border Tools plugin for Adobe Photoshop! This page will help you to get the most of out FAB Tools, as they are affectionately known.

With this set of tools, you will be able to easily frame, resize and watermark your artwork in style. A key goal of FAB Tools in addition to resizing and framing your art is to shift your image up within its frame to provide visual balance as well as create space to add text-based and graphical Watermarks with ultimate positioning freedom. 

Autopilot enables fully automated image processing and round-robin from most content management applications for one-click framing for Web or Print, now with 30 media sizes and ten customizable format slots. Automatic Text can be used to get shooting information or Descriptions embedded in your images to dynamically create boilerplates specific to each image, even during Autopilot processing. All settings can also be saved in Presets and recalled per module at any time, saving you from having to keep detailed notes on settings used for various projects.

Video Tutorials

If you prefer to watch, we have a series of videos to walk you through some of the basic operations and introduce new features as they have been added. Use the menu in the top left of the video below to navigate between tutorials.


FAB Tools Logo Dark

This plugin requires a full version of Adobe Photoshop 2021 or newer. If you have any problems with FAB Tools please update Photoshop if there is an update available. We generally try to optimize FAB Tools for the latest version of Photoshop. FAB Tools does not work with Photoshop Essentials or Lightroom.

Purchasing FAB Tools

If you do not yet own a copy of MBP Fine Art Border Tools you can find them on the Adobe Marketplace here.


Installation is automatically performed after purchase from the Adobe Creative Cloud Marketplace. If your new FAB Tools are not automatically installed, in Photoshop open Plugins > Manage Plugins and you should see the MBP Fine Art Border Tools plugin with an Install button. If you bought FAB Tools on a different computer, you may have to wait a while before the plugin appears in the Stock & Marketplace > Manage plugins section as below.

Installing FAB Tools
Installing FAB Tools


When an update is available, there will be an Update button displayed instead of an Install button when you select Manage Plugins from the Plugins menu in Adobe Photoshop.


Should you need to Uninstall or Disable the plugin for any reason, select Manage Plugins under the Plugin menu in Adobe Photoshop, then click the ellipses to the left of the Installed text and select Uninstall or Disable. You can re-enable or re-install the plugin at any time.

Uninstalling FAB Tools
Uninstalling FAB Tools

Launching in Photoshop

If you don’t see the plugin panel, select MBP Fine Art Border Tools under the Plugin menu in Adobe Photoshop. The panel can be free-floating, or docked in a side panel, or added as an icon in a narrow toolbar.

Docking FAB Tools

For ease of use and to enable scrolls bars to scroll on tall tool panels, drag the FAB Tools plugins to the edge of either the right or left side of the Photoshop image area, until you see a blue line as seen in the below screenshot. Once you see the blue line, let go of FAB Tools and they will be docked in that location ready for use.

Docking FAB Tools
Docking FAB Tools

FAB Tools Modules

The MBP Fine Art Border Tools are split into multiple modules that perform different tasks based on your requirements. The Web Frame and Print Frame modules can both call the Watermark and Add Text Modules so that you can resize for either Web or Print and add a Watermark or Text with one click once configured. There is also an Autopilot module to run tasks automatically or in Batch Mode and a Presets module to store your settings to recall later. The Tools menu contains some useful tools and reset buttons, as well as some generic options that affect all of FAB Tools.

Web Frame Module

Web Frame Module
Web Frame Module

As the name implies, the Web Frame module is designed to help you resize and frame images for use on the Web. The top three fields are to enter your Long Edge and Short Edge sizes in pixels, and the width of your border. By default, the Border is also set in pixels, but we recommend changing this to use a percentage by selecting the % option below the Border Offset slider.

A pleasing border width to start with is 8%, which represents 8% of the width of the image, or around 100 pixels for an image between 1280 and 1440 pixels wide. If this is too wide for your tastes, try something narrower, such as 60 pixels or 5%, depending on your setting.

The Offset

One of the core goals of the MBP Fine Art Border Tools is to provide you with a way to offset the resized image within the frame. Moving the image up slightly in the frame gives it a more pleasing balance and visual distribution while giving you room to sign your work, or add a watermark and/or text below the image, and we’ll cover that shortly.

The amount you offset or move your image up is personal preference, but moving it up by around 3% gives a very balanced image, especially when adding text or watermarks below the image.

Note too that we use the terms Long Edge and Short Edge instead of height and width because FAB Tools automatically recalculates dimensions depending on whether your image is landscape orientation, portrait orientation, or square. So for landscape orientation images, the long edge is the width, but for portrait orientation images, the long edge becomes the height, and you don’t have to worry about which it is.

Save & Close Checkbox

If you are working on multiple images, for faster processing, there is an option at the bottom of the Web Frame and Print Frame modules to Save and Close the image once processing is complete.

Color Your Frame

You can also change the color of the frame that you apply to both Web and Print Frames. Say, for example, you want to frame an image and move away from the standard white frame that we’ve had so far, all you have to do is open your image and click on the colored square on the left of the two which is the Border color, and you can select a color using the regular Photoshop color patches and sliders, but your mouse pointer will change to a picker so you can also sample any color your want from your image, as you see in this screenshot.

Sampling Frame Colors
Sampling Frame Colors

Print Frame Module

Print Frame Module
Print Frame Module

The Print Frame module is for framing for Fine Art Prints. There are 30 presets which, to protect the integrity of the media formats, cannot be modified, other than the border size and vertical offset. If you change the border size it will automatically be saved for future use, and a Revert button will appear, to remind you that you’ve modified the preset and to revert to the preset default border size if necessary.

In addition to the 30 media presets, there are ten customizable formats, based on popular media size and a few square frames. You can take these and make whatever you want. You can enter the Long Edge, Short Edge, Border width, all in millimeters, as well as a custom name for your format and a short description. Each of these fields is saved as you move away from the field. If you ever need to reset a format and start again, just select a saved custom format and hit the Revert button.

Print Resolution

You can also select your resized image resolution. We are not actually able to set the resolution of your images during the resize, but with the value selected for the resolution, we can ensure that your images are the correct size. Resolutions start at 150 ppi which is about the lowest resolution you want to be working with for print. 300 and 600 ppi are common values for printing with Canon printers, and 360 and 720 are common with Epson printers.

The resize algorithm used by Photoshop when resizing is selected automatically and is optimized based on whether you are downsizing or upsizing your image.

Watermark Module

In the Watermark module, you can add graphical watermarks with precision to pretty much any location on your image. Start by selecting one of the nine anchor points, including the four corners, center sides, and the center of the image. From there, you can nudge the watermark up to 100% of the image away from the anchor point.

You can load multiple images and change or delete images easily from a pulldown. You can scale the image to a percentage of the width of your resized image, and change the opacity, which is useful if you are placing a watermark over the image area. Scale and Opacity values are stored separately for each image that you load to your list.

Once you’ve specified your settings, you are ready to apply your watermark. When you are happy with the placement, you can also turn on the checkbox in either of the resize modules to automatically apply the watermark after resizing. There’s no need to worry about the image orientation. We calculate the position based on your image size and orientation, so unless something goes wrong, the watermark will be placed perfectly each time.

You can select to anchor your watermark Inside your resized image or Outside the resized image on the border. Until the image is resized, these options will be displayed in red, because they cannot be used until the image is resized, but your settings will be used as configured. You can apply a watermark anchored to the canvas edge at any time, even without performing a prior resize with the frame.

Add Text Module

The Add Text module gives you the ability to store multiple text strings that can be applied to any location on the image, anchored to your resized image or the canvas. The Inside and Outside image options are displayed in red until you perform a resize, but they can be configured and will be used accordingly when you perform your resize.

To save space when not in use, most of the text options are hidden by default and are opened with a button next to the Scale and Opacity fields, which remain visible for ease of access. When you unhide the text options you have the option to modify the currently selected text or add a new string. Regardless of which you select, your changes are automatically saved, and the font and color options are all saved on a per string basis, so they are recalled with each string as you select it. 

Unless you want to confirm or change the settings, you can apply and switch between saved text strings without unhiding the text options, simply by selecting a different string in the Text pulldown. To delete any string, just select the string and hit the Delete Selected button.

Automatic Text

FAB Tools can automatically fetch information from your embedded image data for inclusion in your text watermark! Select information such as the Title, Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO, Focal Length, Date & Time, Camera, Lens, Artist, and Copyright! You can either replace your watermark text or append your automatic text to it, and there’s an option to split the text over multiple lines if you prefer. There is a new preview feature, so you can see how your text will look before you apply it, including your font and styling.

Second Text Line
Second Text Line

Second Text Line (from V1.5)

From version 1.5 released in December 2021, there are now more text customization options than ever! We’ve covered this in the version 1.5 update video in the tutorials that you can view above, but to explain, you can now add a second line of text that you manually enter for your Text Watermark. 

All you have to do to use the second line of text is to select the Second Line Text field (inside the green box in this screenshot) and type in your text. When you tab away from the text field your text is automatically saved with your first line and other options, such as font, font style, and font color.

If you don’t need to embed your second line in your watermark, you can either delete the text or uncheck the Activate check box to the right of the Second Line Text field. If you want to change your text regularly, leave the Auto-hide button unchecked, and the field will remain on the screen when the other options are hidden. 

Custom Fonts

Please note that due to limitations in the plugin framework, we cannot list and display all fonts that are installed on your system with FAB Tools. We have included 19 fonts by default that represent a wide selection of font styles, and you can add any other fonts on your system manually for use in the Add Text module.

Another new feature in version 1.5 is the ability to add any font that you have installed on your system to the Font pulldown for use in the Text Watermarks. To get started just click on the Add Font button that can be seen after clicking on Show Options in the Add Text module. If you haven’t added a Text Watermark yet, you need to add something before these options are visible.

After clicking the Add Font button, you will see six text fields. The first is for the font name, and the following five fields are for the various styles that you commonly find in a font. The name can be anything you want, but so that you can recognize the font, using the Font Name is recommended. For the remaining Postscript name fields, you can use the font file name without the extension, or get the font style name from the Font Book under Applications on a Mac or from the System Font Viewer on Windows. These names have to match the actual font names or your custom font will not work. After entering the style names, click the Store Font button, and check the preview to see that the font is working. If you have added more than one font style, also check that the style changes in the preview when selected.

Adding a Custom Font
Adding a Custom Font

You can add different styles to the five provided, for example, you might add an Extra Light font style instead of Light, or Extra Bold instead of bold, but note that the style will only be displayed by the available style radio button with the default names. Once you have added a custom font, you can press the Edit Font button that will be displayed when a Custom Font is selected and reopen the font text fields to check or change what you added. There is no limit to the number of fonts that you add. 

Note too that the fonts are added to the MBPCustomFonts.txt file that you can find along with the other preference files that are stored. To see your Custom Fonts file and potentially make a backup, go to the Tools module and click on the Show Settings Folder Path button, then copy the path to the clipboard, and paste that path into the dialog that appears when you select the Finder > Go > Go to Folder option on a Mac, or paste the path into the Explorer path field in Windows. 

Description Text Wrapping Options

Version 1.5 also introduced two new Description Text wrapping options. The Description text is automatically extracted from your image if you added a description, either in the File Information > Description field in Photoshop, or in another application, like Capture One Pro or Lightroom. If you add a Description in Photoshop, note that you must save and close then reopen the file before MBP FAB Tools will be able to read the Description from the image file.

The first of the two new wrapping options is to return after the number of words entered into the first of the two optional fields. Your description will automatically be wrapped after the number of words entered. The second new wrapping option is to wrap when FAB Tools finds a specific character or character string in your Description. By default, this is an opening parenthesis bracket. As you can see in the example screenshot above, I wrapped the description after the two words “The Abyss” by including the remaining Description inside parenthesis. I’ve not limited the character wrap to the first instance of a character, so you could theoretically wrap line after line by including the wrap character multiple times.

Note that the Description formating checkboxes are grayed out when your image has no Description embedded. To add a description in Photoshop, open File Info from the File menu, or add it to the EXIF information in third-party products like Capture One Pro and Lightroom.

Safe Text Scaling

The last major update in this release is the Safe Text Scaling option. As it is now possible to build text watermarks that can potentially overflow the space provided in the border surrounding your resized image, I’ve added the Safe Text Scaling option and turned it on by default, and this will essentially prevent your text from overflowing the border and being cut off.

The cool thing about this is if you do work with multi-line text watermarks, and are happy for them to fill the border space vertically, you can now just set a larger Scale percentage than necessary, and allow the Safe Text Scaling option to resize your text to fit the border automatically. So, for example, instead of trying to find the percentage required to fill the border, which might be say 32%, you can now just specify a 50% border, and leave the rest to FAB Tools. Needless to say, it works with landscape or portrait orientation images, as well as square and panorama images.

If you want to know whether Safe Text Scaling is kicking in, look below the three options under the Text Anchor Target section in the Add Text module while adding a text-based watermark. You’ll see a green message quickly flash onto the screen saying “Text Auto-Scaled!” To actually be on the Add Text screen if you are adding a Watermark during the resizing process, select Apply Web Border from the hamburger menu in the top right of the FAB Tools plugin panel.

Autopilot Module

Autopilot Module
Autopilot Module

FAB Tools includes a robust Autopilot module. With Autopilot you can now turn on the Add Watermark and Add Text checkboxes on either of the resizing and framing modules and apply your frames in batch. This helps as you try various settings, as you can simply leave Autopilot on, allow it to process your open images, and walk through your images to check how the frames look.

We remember which images have been processed, so your frames won’t be reapplied during that session. However, if you want to apply some changes made, you can simply hit the Revert button to undo your changes, and Autopilot will instantly apply your updated frame and watermarks.

If Autopilot runs too fast for your computer to keep up with, you may see errors that will cause Autopilot to deactivate. If this happens, increase the number of seconds pause between actions with the radio buttons provided. For example, on my iMac Pro with an 8-core CPU, I can select 0.5 seconds pause and batch process twenty or so 50 megapixel TIFF files without any issues. On a 13″ Mac Book Pro though, with a 2-core CPU, one second is generally a long enough pause. 

FAB Tools Shortcut Menu
FAB Tools Shortcut Menu

If you should need to deactivate the Autopilot, note that you can select FAB Tools from the Plugin menu as seen in this screenshot. There is also an option to Deactivate Autopilot in the Shortcut menu, so you don’t have to open the plugin to turn it off. If you do select FAB Tools while the Photoshop welcome screen is displayed, Photoshop will open and the plugin will be displayed, enabling you to change the settings or deactivate Autopilot.

We strongly recommend working on copies of your images when working in Autopilot mode. We’ve tried very hard to make it as robust as possible, but occasionally errors may occur, especially if you are using a short pause, and if you have Automatic Save & Close turned on, you may end up saving errors and need to rerun a file or two. Ideally, run through a few batches without Save & Close turned on first to get a feel for how Autopilot works, and find a good place for the pause radio buttons. Then, once you strike a good balance, you can turn on Save & Close and blast through large batches of images relatively quickly.

Inactivity Timer

Because Photoshop will revert to its welcome screen when all files are processed, there is an inactivity timer built into Autopilot to help you avoid forgetting that the Pilot is on, and inadvertently framing and saving a file that you open in Photoshop. The default timer is five minutes, but you can change this to up to one hour with the available radio buttons. Note too that the inactivity timer resets every time you process an image, so five minutes is generally fine.

Round-Robin Processing

A longer inactivity timer may be useful if you are working on images in another program, and want to round-robin to Photoshop. For example, you can leave Autopilot turned on in Photoshop, and even minimize the FAB Tools plugin window to an icon, and then send your images to Photoshop, and they will be automatically processed and saved back into your base application.

Presets Module

You can save any and all settings in presets and recall them at any time. When you save a Preset you can select which of the four main modules to include, and even if you save them all, you can deselect any module when restoring, giving you full control of what you include and restore. You can even restore deleted watermarks!

Tools Module
Tools Module

Tools Module

The final panel provides a number of tools to help you maximize your use of the MBP Fine Art Border Tools plugin.

At the very top, you’ll find a button that links to this page, the FAB Tools User Manual. Below that is a group of Global Settings. There are a few operations that may require clarification so contextual tips appear when you perform certain tasks. If you don’t want these Quick Tips to appear, uncheck the Show Quick Tips checkbox.

The Custom Fonts First checkbox is used to reorder the many available Media Formats under the Format dropdown list in the Print Frame module so that the Custom Formats appear at the top of the list. Unchecking this checkbox makes the Custom Formats appear after the non-customizable Media Formats.

The Enable Safety Nudge checkbox is on by default and essentially ensures the positioning of watermarks and text that you can add to your image are calculated so that they are positioned in the same place regardless of the image orientation. Without this checkbox on, you may find that in some situations your watermarks and text are higher or lower compared to the frame or inner image edges when applied to portrait orientation images compared to landscape orientation images.

Use the Show Settings Folder Path button if you need to make a backup of your settings, or if you have a problem with FAB Tools and are requested to send your settings files to support.

Click on Show Reset Buttons to display multiple buttons that erase any settings you’ve made and restore factory presets if you have any problems with FAB Tools. There are buttons for each module and to reset the Custom Media Formats. There is also a red button to Completely Reset FAB Tools, which resets everything with one click. If you have to use this, we also recommend clicking on the hamburger icon in the top right corner of the FAB Tools panel and selecting Reload the Plugin.

There is a button to Subscribe to Update Notifications so that you receive an email from us when an important or useful update is released, and at the bottom of the Tools module, you’ll find the version of the plugin and the media version, which we may ask you to check or provide to us if you should require technical support at any time.

Technical Support

If you can’t find the answers you need on this page, or if you have any suggestions for future updates, please feel free to contact us with the provided contact form.

Autopilot and Text-Based Watermarks Come to FAB Tools (Podcast 749)

Autopilot and Text-Based Watermarks Come to FAB Tools (Podcast 749)

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Sales of my new Fine Art Border Tools plugin for Adobe Photoshop are picking up, so a quick thank you to any of you that already bought the plugin. I’ve invested more time to implement a few new features one of which I had planned to do from the start, and some others which were a bit of an afterthought but have in many ways stolen the limelight, as I’ll explain in this episode. I wanted to gauge interest before investing another month or so of development time into implementing Text-Based Watermarks. The graphical Watermarks were added in my first release, and in a follow-up release shortly after that, I added the ability to store multiple Watermark files making that feature much more useful.

Autopilot for FAB Tools

The second thing that I added as an after-thought is incredibly cool, and I will share more details in a tutorial a video very soon too, but I was about to submit the plugin for review ten days ago when a thought bubble popped into my mind with pretty much the entire mechanism to implement what I’ve called Autopilot. Then, over this last weekend, I figured out how to make the batch processing even more robust, so I’ve literally just submitted another new build, which includes more robust batch processing. As you can probably imagine, Autopilot takes control of FAB Tools, so you will be able to perform either a Web Frame or Print Frame resize with your fine art frame, and if you turn on the checkboxes, you can automatically add your graphical and new text-based watermarks, completely automatically. Please allow me to explain in more detail.

With Autopilot active, all images that you have open in Photoshop will be processed according to your settings. In the past, batch processing has been in the form of opening many documents at the same time and hoping that you had enough system resources for Photoshop to work with possibly many gigabytes of images open, then you had to click the Apply button and wait for each image to be processed. The Automatic Save & Close button and checkboxes for adding the watermark automatically helped, but with no support for Actions with these plugins in Photoshop, it was a manual process to select each image.

I realized though that I can detect when your image closes, especially when Automatic Save & Close is turned on because FAB Tools is issuing the command, so I figured that I would just wait for the next image to be selected, and kick off the processing again automatically. It sounds easy and was actually a relatively difficult task to program this into the already very complex code, but it was possible. I then had another thought bubble and figured out how to open multiple files in batch mode, so if you want to process more files than you can realistically open in Photoshop simultaneously, simply use the Open button with Autopilot turned on, and it will batch process your images, opening them one at a time, processing your resize, frame and watermarks, and then save and close it before opening the next image that you selected in your initial Open. I’m going to wait for Adobe to release my current build before uploading another update that I’ve just finished, but once you get to version 1.1.7 you will also notice that the Open button turns blue to attract your attention when Autopilot is active and the Open button label changes from Open to Batch Open, to make this all more obvious.

Autopilot Batch Processing
Autopilot Batch Processing

Also, note that because there is a lot of text on the Autopilot screen, I’ve added a Hide Instructions button which removes the five paragraphs of text when pressed, and your selection is saved, so you won’t need to press this every time you start using Autopilot. The instructions are turned on to begin with though, to help you avoid inadvertently processing something.

Benchmark Tests

I’ve done some benchmark tests and found that on my powerful 8-core CPU iMac Pro, with Autopilot active I can open around 20 TIFF files at once before Photoshop starts to complain that there are too many tasks running in FAB Tools. Because they all open together though, for small batches, this is slightly faster than my new batch processing, due to the overhead of opening and closing all the files individually. I was able to process 20 TIFFs, a total of 2.79 GB of data, and saved them as large B2 media size print files in two minutes and 10 seconds. The same 20 files in batch mode took 20 seconds longer, so there is a 15% overhead. You have no choice if you want to process more than 20 files at once though because the system won’t handle too many files.

I then tried a batch of 100 TIFF files, for a total of 18 GB, and saved them as Web-sized framed and watermarked both with graphic and text-based watermarks and with the new batch mode, which took 10 minutes and 47 seconds. For all of my tests, I was using the 0.5-second pause to prevent errors, but I have found that even on my 13″ Mac Book Pro, with the new batch mode I am not getting any errors even when using the 1-second pause, so this has improved the number of files that can be processed and the stability, so it was a weekend well spent on the updated batch mechanism.

You can mix and match as well. For example, say you start working on a batch of images that you have FAB Tools open via the Batch Open button the intelligent batch mode, and then you want to process another 10 files. You can set your larger batch running, and gather your next ten images while the batch runs, and then once it’s finished, drag and drop your new 10 images to Photoshop. As long as Autopilot is active, it will automatically switch between batch modes without you having to change anything.

If you leave Automatic Save & Close turned off, the images will process and sit waiting for your review, and if all’s well, you can hit the Save/Close button to do just that. If you want to make a change, you can change your settings with Autopilot active and then hit the Revert button to remove your first frame and watermarks, and Autopilot will instantly reapply the frame with your new settings. Once you are happy with your settings, you can turn on that Automatic Save & Close button, and any other images you open while Autopilot is active will be automatically processed. Please do work on copies of your images, especially as you experiment, because they will be overwritten if Save and Close is active.

Round-Robin Processing

Because Autopilot will just sit and wait for images though, you can use it to Round-Robin from programs like Capture One Pro or Lightroom to add your frames and watermarks very efficiently. I figured this would be more impressive to watch so I created a three-minute video to share how easy it is to Round-Robin from Lightroom and Capture One Pro, which you can find below, but I’ll also explain a little more about the Autopilot feature. Say you’re working on an image that you want to prepare for print with a border, or you’re working on some images to upload to Instagram and you want to resize, add a square frame, and watermark them ready, you can simply locate your images, select edit in Photoshop if it’s available, ensure that you make a copy of your image during the edit or export command, and then when it hits Photoshop your frame will be automatically applied and saved, then appear back in your based program a few moments later.

I’ll work on a longer video to fully explain these new features over the next few days, and embed that below as well, so please check back later if it’s not already here when you visit.

As I worked with the new Autopilot mode myself, I did find that I would occasionally forget that it was still active, even though there is an inactivity timer that automatically turns it off, and I opened a file that I didn’t intend to frame and resize, so I have also just added an Auto-off mode in addition to the Inactivity timers. The options are there so you’ll figure out the best way to work, but if you know you’re processing a one-off image or batch then select the Auto-off option and Autopilot will still wait three minutes for your images, before deactivating, but after you’ve sent something to be processed, be it a single image or a batch, after completing the processing, Autopilot will automatically deactivate.

FAB Tools Shortcut Menu
FAB Tools Shortcut Menu

Also, I found it useful to open the Photoshop Preferences General tab and uncheck Auto show the Home Screen checkbox. With that checked, Photoshop will always go back to the home screen, hiding your plugins when there are no images open. If you prefer to leave the Home Screen turned on, you can go to the Plugins menu and turn on FAB Tools under MBP Fine Art Border Tools to display the plugin, even from the Home Screen.

FAB Tools Fonts
FAB Tools Fonts

You can also select Deactivate Autopilot from there too if you have a longer timer set but need to open an image that you don’t want to process before the Inactivity timer expires. If you turn off the Home Screen, when you open Photoshop you’ll just see any open Plugins or panels you have open and this makes it more intuitive to use the new FAB Tools Autopilot, especially when round-robin-ing. Is that a word?

One thing that you do need to keep in mind is that I was not able to prevent you from opening new images while Autopilot is processing other images, and most of the time during my tests, if you do open an image while Autopilot is working, it will result in a bit of a mess. If things go wrong, I try to deactivate Autopilot and provide a message to let you know that things went wrong, but depending on the timing, an image might get saved with errors before we realize that something is wrong, so please try to avoid opening new images while Autopilot is working on other images.

Text-Based Watermarks

OK, so let’s take a look at the new Text-Based Watermarks in a little more detail too. Based on the same layout the new Add Text module looks very similar to the first Watermarks module, but in addition to simply storing multiple text strings for placement on your image or in its new border, there is a selection of 17 fonts, most of which will be available on your system already, and I also store the font style, like Regular and Bold, etc. and the color that you select for your text, as you can see in this screenshot.

I’ve left the Text options open in this screenshot for you to take a look at, but as you can see, there is a lot on that panel, so when you’ve finished adding or modifying your watermark text, hit the Done button, and all of the text options will collapse away leaving just the Show Options button, which says Hide Options in this screenshot, and the pulldown with the text inside. If you don’t need to change any settings, you can simply select any of the stored text watermarks from that pulldown without displaying all the settings.

Text Watermarks
Text Watermarks

Note too that we don’t use points for the font size because that would mean you’d need to change the size in points every time you change the size of your resized image. Instead, as with the graphical watermarks, we use a Scale value, which I’ve set to 30 by default, although you can obviously change that, and this intelligently scales your text to 30% of the width of your image, regardless of the size your image will be resized to. I also fixed a problem with the opacity, which of course, sets the opacity of your image between 0 and 100%. All of these settings are stored on a per string basis, so when you change to a different text string, all of its settings come with it.

Due to limitations in the plugin framework, I’m currently not able to simply access all of the fonts on the users’ system, and there is no way for me to know if the fonts I’ve listed are actually installed, so if you select a font and it looks bland when applied, check that you have the font installed, and if you don’t, install it, and it should kick-in just fine. Also, if there are any fonts that you believe are installed by default that you would like to add, please let me know, and I’ll try to add them in a future update. Similarly, if you use a font in a language that is not covered by these default fonts, let me know, and I’ll figure out a way to make additional font sets available for other languages, etc.

I have also tested that a certain amount of intelligence ensures that if, for example, I store some Japanese text as a watermark, even though I have a Western font assigned, Photoshop realizes that it’s Japanese text and uses a default Japanese font, rather than applying garbled characters. I would like more control over this, so I’ve got a note to work on a solution, but for now, if you do need to use non-Western text, FAB Tools should at least not fall flat on its face.

Japanese Watermarks
Japanese Watermarks

For this example, I applied both my Text and Graphical watermarks inside the resized image, as opposed to in the border, so I made the outer border a bit smaller, and also reduced the opacity of my name stamp to 50%, to make it look more like it has actually been stamped over a dark background. Even with the generic Japanese font to display my company name, it doesn’t look too bad, although some options at some point soon will be nice.

Here is the overview video that I mentioned earlier. I hope you find it useful!

OK, so that’s a quick rundown of these new features for MBP Fine Art Border Tools which have now passed Adobe’s review, so these features will be in FAB Tools when you buy it. For more information on all of the features available, check out the product page, and if you just want to run off and pick up a copy, you can find the plugin in the Adobe Exchange Marketplace. Make sure that you use the same email address as your Adobe ID when checking out, to ensure that your plugin is delivered to your account. Note too that you need to be running Photoshop version 22 or higher to use the MBP Fine Art Border Tools.

Tag FAB Tools!

If you are finding FAB Tools useful and use it on any of the images that you post on Instagram, tag your image with the hashtag #mbpfabtools and I’ll keep my eye out for anything you post. I’d love to see how you are using FAB Tools.

Show Notes

See details on the FAB Tools product page: https://mbp.ac/mbpfabt

See FAB Tools in the Adobe Exchange Marketplace: https://mbp.ac/fabtmp

Music by Martin Bailey


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Download this Podcast as an MP3 with Chapters.

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MBP Fine Art Border Tools Plugin for Adobe Photoshop (Podcast 743)

MBP Fine Art Border Tools Plugin for Adobe Photoshop (Podcast 743)

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My apologies for going completely down-periscope for the last month. As I was wrapping up the previous podcast episode, I found out that Adobe had transitioned to a new API to build plugins for Photoshop, and I decided to look into creating a full-blown plugin to replace my Fine Art Border Scripts, which I literally knocked together on a Sunday after in 2013 as I needed something to automatically add the above center offset Fine Art Border that I use when printing, and it was relatively easy to do. The Fine Art Border scripts have sold pretty well over the years, but they were somewhat inflexible and required the user to edit the text file script if they needed to change the ratio of the vertical offset, or change the width of the border, etc.

A relatively tertiary look at the new API told me two things. The first was that I figured I would probably be able to write the code for the plugin that required the original script files to be manually edited, which would make the plugin much more intuitive, and the second thing I noticed was how incomplete the new API currently is. Mostly due to this second point, to complete the plugin to its current feature level, I literally had to spend every waking minute for the last month, and once again, drove my wife crazy as I got up early each day, and kept my laptop open until moments before we went to bed each night. Of course, you haven’t seen a podcast or blog post for the last month either, for which. once again, I apologize.

But, I am very happy with the results. There are a few things that I want to add in a near-future update, but I’ve ended up with a much more feature-rich replacement for my 2013 scripts, which I’ve called the MBP Fine Art Border Tools plugin for Adobe Photoshop, affectionately known in short form as FAB Tools. As I completed my preparation for this post, I received word from Adobe that the plugin has passed their review, so I am really excited about this. Over time, this post will become dated, so if you check this out much after June 2021, please check the Product Page here for the most up-to-date information. You can also subscribe to the Plugin Notifications list of my newsletter, and I’ll keep you updated when any new features of note are released.

Get FAB Tools!

You can check out the plugin on the Adobe Marketplace already, so click the logo below to check that out, but we’ll also continue on to take a look at the details of what FAB Tools does and show some usage scenarios. I’ll also create a video to walk you through this over the next few weeks, so please keep an eye out for that too.

MBP FAB Tools for awesome artists
Designed for Adobe Photoshop

An Overview

The new plugin has three main modules. One for framing and resizing for the Web, and the second for print, both with the same visually pleasing vertical offset, but with the ability to change it to any value, moving the image both up or down in the frame. The third module is completely new, to enable the addition of a watermark or logo. Currently, this only accepts images, but I intend to add the ability to add a text-based watermark soon. There is a fourth Tools panel, but that’s to provide links to a few global features, like showing or hiding Tool Tips, or showing the custom formats before the mostly uneditable presets in the Print Frame module. There may be a few more panels in the coming months, but at the time of release, I’m very happy with the specific feature set that I’ve built, and I do hope you find it useful.

Web Frame Dark
Web Frame Dark

Web Frame and Resize

As you can see in this screenshot, the Web Frame module is relatively simple on the front end, with a few nice tweaks to help your workflow. The idea is to add a border, the width of which you specify with the Border (px) field. If you have a specific height and width that you would like to resize your image to, you can enter both values. If you enter either the Long Edge or Short Edge value and turn on Auto-Calculate Ratio, the plugin will calculate the edge that you didn’t enter automatically. 

When you enter the Short Edge you’ll notice the Short Edge heading then becomes underlined, indicating that it has priority. To go back to Long Edge priority, simply enter the long edge value. If you’d like to frame your images inside a square, simply enter the Long Edge value to resize to, and turn on the Create Square Border checkbox. We’ll then create square borders and position your images inside.

The Top/Bottom Border Offset slider is where you move the image up or down in the frame. For centuries, fine artists have positioned their work slightly higher in a matte or frame to provide more pleasing visual balance. Moving your image up slightly also gives you room to sign or add a watermark to your work.

The Magic Formula

After a lot of research around 10 years ago, I came to the conclusion that a good balance for fine art prints was to calculate 10% of the height of the image and use that for all four borders while moving the image up by 3%. This gives 10% side borders, a 7% top border, and a 13% bottom border. In the Web Frame module, we convert these percentages to pixels, as you specify the border width in pixels, so moving the image up 3% in a 100-pixel border equates to 30 pixels. Just wiggle it around and hit the Apply button to see what you get though. The Revert button reverts all changes, so it’s easy to try different settings.

Depending on the ratio of your image, you may find that you get slightly larger borders on the top or sides when working to a specific media size. With the Web Frame module though, if you only use Long or Short Edge priority, FAB Tools will add the exact sized border on all four sides, offset to the amount specified. If you want completely equal borders, leave the offset slider at zero.

There are three more checkboxes to talk about before we move on. First, you can add a one-pixel outer border using the color selected as your secondary color in Photoshop. A mid-gray is a good choice. This just helps your images to stand out against a similar color background and will disappear against a darker background.

Print Frame Dark
Print Frame Dark

There is also a checkbox to automatically save and close the image after applying the border, and a final checkbox to add the watermark on completion, and we’ll look at Watermarking in more detail shortly.

Print Frame and Resize

The next module is for framing for Fine Art Prints. This is closest to my 2013 Border Scripts release, but now highly customizable right here in the user interface.

There are 28 presets which, to protect the integrity of the media formats, cannot be modified, other than the border size and vertical offset. If you change the border size it will automatically be saved for future use, but a Revert button will appear, to remind you that you’ve modified the preset and to revert to the preset 10% border if necessary.

In addition to the 28 media presets, there are ten customizable formats, based on popular media size and a few square frames. You can take these and make whatever you want. You can enter the Long Edge, Short Edge, Border width, all in millimeters, as well as a custom name for your format and a short description. Each of these fields is saved as you move away from the field, but if you want to reset this and start again, just select a saved custom format and hit the Revert button. The vertical offset you select is currently not saved as part of your custom format, but if you think it should be, let me know and I’ll consider changing that in a future update.

Watermark Dark
Watermark Dark

Watermarking Module

A completely new addition is the ability to add graphical watermarks with precision to pretty much any location on your image. Start by selecting one of the nine anchor points, including the four corners, center sides, and the center of the image. From there, you can nudge the watermark up to 100% of the image away from the anchor point.

If no image resize has been performed, you can only anchor the watermark in relation to the canvas, but once you have performed a resize, you can also select to anchor the watermark to the inside or the outside of the resized image within the frame. 

You can currently only load one image, but once loaded, it will generally be stored until you change it. You can scale the image to a percentage of the width of your resized image, and change the opacity, which is useful if you are placing a watermark over the image area.

Once you’ve specified your settings, you are ready to apply your watermark. When you are happy with the placement, you can also turn on the checkbox in either of the resize modules to automatically apply the watermark after resizing. There’s no need to worry about the image orientation. We calculate the position based on your image size and orientation, so the watermark should be placed perfectly each time.

Tools Dark
Tools Dark

Tools Panel

As I mentioned earlier, there is a fourth panel called Tools, where you can turn off Tooltips, and have the Custom Media show at the top of the Format pulldown on the Print Frame tab, and there are some other options, such as the ability to reset the settings and all of the Media modifications if necessary. There’s also a link to sign up for our Plugin Notifications, and a button to show the folder where the plugin settings are stored, so that you can, for example, back up all of your custom media or if you want to move your settings and media to a second computer that you own, you can do that with the files in the path that is displayed. Note too that although I’ve used the Dark theme plugin screenshots for this post, it fully supports the Light theme as well, and will automatically adjust the colors used based on your theme preferences.

Practical Use Scenarios

OK, so let’s look at a few practical use scenarios for the features and modules we’ve discussed. To be completely honest, one of the reasons I started to look into the new plugin technology, was because I had to modify one of my original 2013 scripts to enable me to easily reframe some of my recent microphotography work to upload to Instagram. Ironically that was also put on hold for the last month as I worked on the plugin, but I really wanted an easy way to add what I call the Fine Art Border to my images in preparation for web upload. I had originally planned to just add a completely square border, most suitable for Instagram, but that became a checkbox option in the final plugin. Here, for example, though, is a small gallery of images with square borders, which looks really neat on sites like Instagram that list images in a square format. It also helps with uploading very tall images, as they get cropped by Instagram, and that has always been a bugbear for me.

Notice how the border automatically calculates the necessary position of the image within the border, and moves the image up, in Fine Art Border style, according to my settings, although I actually used the default vertical offset and border width for these images, and just turned on the Create Square Border checkbox, so that they were all put neatly into the same sized squares. Also, note that once you are happy with the positioning of your watermark, you can simply open the images that you want to resize and turn on the Automatically save and close option, and if necessary the Add Watermark on completion checkbox, and the image will be resized, watermarked, saved, and closed when you hit the Apply button.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, Adobe does not include actions performed on these plugins to be recorded in Actions, so you do have to open all of your images and hit the Apply button for each of them, but with everything else being automatic, it’s not a painful process to go through even a few hundred images if necessary. Adobe is saying that recording in Actions is coming soon though, and I’ll ensure that this works as expected when that happens.

Of course, the plugin also handles the addition of a uniformly sized border, adjusted based on the size of the original image. Here is another gallery of web resized images, this time without the Create Square Border checkbox turned on. Note the square image and portrait orientation image in this gallery. Nothing had to be changed in the plugin to cater to these different sizes and aspect ratios. I just pressed Apply on each image until the end of the set. You’ll need to click on the first image to open it in the Lightbox before you can view the various aspect ratios properly.

You don’t have to add a watermark, of course, and generally, for Instagram, I don’t, but this should be a good illustration of the precision of positioning etc. It’s also great for mocking up prints for sale if you sell prints that are signed. Just scan your signature and save it as an image file, and you can associate that with the plugin in the Watermark module and it will be used until you change it.

Printing Examples

The reason that I created my original Fine Art Border scripts back in 2013 was to prepare images for print with the Fine Art Border vertical offset already in place. If you print directly to the media size that you want as your final result, the border can generally be created by adjusting the border widths in your printing software, but getting the ratios the same each time you print can be challenging. I always used a spreadsheet with my calculated border sizes in it, and managed a large number of printing templates, and that can be avoided by running your image through this new plugin. If you are printing to the media size of your final print though, it’s best to uncheck the checkbox to add a 0.3mm stroke border around the outside edge of the image.

If however, you want to use the plugin to help you to save money carrying various media sizes, leave that border on, so that you can see where to trim after you’ve printed. The idea is that say for example you create prints for sale in say A4, 8 x 10 inches, A3, and 11 x 17 inches, but you don’t want to stock all of these sizes as sheet media in various finishes. Let’s imagine that you need an A4 and an 8 x 10 print and you have a 24-inch wide roll media printer. It takes just a few seconds to resize your images using my new plugin, then click on the Padlock of the background layer of one of the images in Photoshop to unlock it, then specify a canvas size small enough to print on your roll width. 24-inch rolls are 609.7 mm wide, so you can either specify say 600 mm, and print without any scaling, or if you know like I do that your printer requires a 3mm border on each edge, you could simply resize your first image canvas to 603.7 mm so that it will fit perfectly after deducting your printers minimum edge gap. Make the height something taller than the tallest print you need, say 220 mm in this example.

Because we unlocked the first image before resizing the canvas, the we can easily move the image in slightly, and then drop our 8 x 10-inch resized image onto the newly resized image, and position it to the side of the first image, as you see in this screenshot. If you print this at 220 mm high on 24-inch roll media, you’d have minimum waste and once trimmed, two perfectly sized prints.

Even if you don’t have a roll media printer, you can save on sheet media varieties in a similar way. Say you received an order for a print on A4 media, but you don’t have any A4 sheets available. You could resize and add the trimming stroke border, then print on something larger, like A3 media. Here is a screenshot of the Photoshop Print screen with a print resized to A4, about to be printed on A3 media. There’s a waste of media that we’d be trimming away, but it does save stocking lots of different sizes of sheet media. And of course, similarly, you could simply lay out two prints on the A3 page to minimize waste.

A4 on A3 Media
A4 on A3 MediaNote

Note too that some programs have the ability to add additional trimming guides, such as the Corner Crop Marks that I turned on in Photoshop in the above screenshot. Also note that to ensure you print at the correct size, you’d need to turn off any scaling to fit the media. The images are currently saved in the original resolution or set to 300 PPI if the resolution isn’t set for any reason, but either way, it will be set so your resized images will be displayed at exactly the size you need if you print without any scaling turned on.

Click the MBP Fine Art Border Tools logo to jump to the Adobe Marketplace to pick up your FAB Tools!

MBP FAB Tools for awesome artists
Designed for Adobe Photoshop

OK, so that’s about it for this update. As I say, if you are interested in this plugin, and are checking out this post much after June 2021, please check the Product page for the latest information, and if you sign up for our Plugin Notifications newsletter and I’ll keep you in the loop. If you pick up a copy of the plugin and have any problems or suggestions, please do let me know via the support contact form.

※ Adobe, the Adobe logo, and Photoshop are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe in the United States and/or other countries.

Show Notes

Jump to the FAB Tools page in the Adobe Marketplace with this link: https://mbp.ac/fabtmp

See FAB Tools product details here: https://mbp.ac/mbpfabt

Music by Martin Bailey


Subscribe in iTunes to get Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast as an MP3 with Chapters.

Visit this page for help on how to view the images in MP3 files.