Passepartout – what is it, how to do it yourself from cardboard, varieties and selection of colors

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It is impossible to imagine a picture without a frame, because without this important element, a work of art looks inferior. In addition, nothing decorates and gives the image more originality than a skillfully selected passe partout (passe partout). He will add the creation of the necessary effect and completeness, so that the picture will become an important accent element in any room. It will attract the attention of your guests and harmoniously fit into the overall style of interior design.

What is passepartout

Before ordering such a product, remember that passe-partout is a wide frame (French passe partout) made of multilayer cardboard that frames a photograph, collage, drawing, illustration or some other work of art. This creates the border between the frame and the picture. In this way, it is customary to highlight portraits. The difference between the passe partout and the usual frame is that it is, in fact, a piece of cardboard, in the middle of which an oval, round or quadrangular hole is cut. And this is done under the frame of a smaller thickness.

Passe-partout is presented on the modern market with a rich palette of colors and shades and a wide range of sizes, which allows you to freely select a frame for a specific image. In addition, an autograph of the one depicted or explanatory signatures are often placed on such a product. Correctly selected option gives the creation a full value and helps to solve a number of decorative tasks related to decoration. When designing, designers can impose both double and triple passepartout.


Having decided to order a passe-partout for a photo or any image that will look aesthetically pleasing and original, familiarize yourself with the purpose of such an item first. Often it acts as a peculiar element of art, emphasizing a particular creation of art. In addition, this type of frame performs the following functions:

  • facilitating the perception of the work due to the fact that it is separated from the rest of the interior;
  • focusing on individual elements of the image, which helps to increase the impact on the audience;
  • environmental protection.

Multicolored cardboard frames


Passe-partout frame (most) has the same dimensions, and from all sides. This approach is considered justified from a commercial point of view, because it can be used for both book and landscape versions. True, this format is not always appropriate from an aesthetic point of view. This is explained by the peculiarities of human visual perception, because when considering vertical objects, the most harmonious will be the one whose lower part has more weight.

It should be said that a symmetrical frame is not always bad, for example, if the picture has a bright accent in the lower part, then additional amplification in the visual plan is not required. There is no need for an asymmetric mat if it is purchased for educational and scientific illustrations. In general, well-chosen frames and sizes can give the status of a work to any linear and color chaos, and even naive children’s drawings..

What are they made of?

When planning to purchase a passepartout for photos, check out the materials for making such an item. For this purpose, manufacturers use a sheet of paper or paperboard in the form of sheets that are coated on both sides with layers of paper. The front side is covered with a colored layer. Cardboard is monophonic and color – the thickness varies from 0.5 to 3 mm. In the first case, the color of the cut and the front side are the same, and in the second, the cut differs in the color of the top layer.

Museum-grade cardboard, less susceptible to fungus, has the best properties. Cardboard with the quality of preservation made of natural cotton is considered to be of better quality – it completely prevents the fungus from spreading. There is still material from cellulose with a lignin content – it undergoes oxidation and spoils the paper of the picture. More about making a mat:

  • Cardboard for such a frame is a sheet of paper pressed into several layers, which are covered with a sheet of colored paper. For the manufacture of wood pulp is often used..
  • Cardboard consists of a surface layer, an inside and a back. Each of them has special requirements..
  • In addition to aesthetic requirements, the surface of the product must be resistant to light. In this regard, the paper for the surface layer is produced in highly specialized paper mills that meet high quality standards..
  • The back of the item is no less important than the others, because this layer is in contact with a work of art. Acid-free paper treated with calcium carbonate is used to make the wrong side..
  • The inner layer is the thickest. To a greater extent, a standard inner layer made of wood and a layer of non-oxidizing cellulose are used. If the first is made of selected and free from any impurities wood fiber, then this minimizes the appearance of black dots. The advantage of cellulose is that it does not turn yellow over time and this structure provides reliable protection against any external influences..
  • An additional aesthetic effect when framing gives a painted inner layer of cardboard. Contrast contour helps highlight a work of art.

Methods for arranging the mat

Passepartout paintings can be subconsciously perceived as art objects. Sometimes, to increase the decorative properties, a edging for passe-partout made in the form of a wooden or plastic plank is used – it is located between the image and the field. It is advisable, before choosing this or that subject, to determine the optimal way of its location. There are two of them in total:

  • Under the picture. In this case, the picture is fixed on a continuous sheet of cardboard. To do this, rubber glue can be used, which, if necessary, can be easily removed – the picture will not deteriorate from this. Another way is to use corners or double-sided stickers. This arrangement is not suitable if the photograph is placed under glass. She can stick tightly and be irretrievably lost. In addition, this type of item adds rigidity to the children’s craft and can be placed on the wall in the future..
  • Above the picture. This option looks like a dense frame under which a finished work of art is placed. For manufacturing, you can take a couple of sheets of cardboard: thin is used on the substrate, and thicker – for the manufacture of the frame. In the latter, you will need to cut a window to the size of the picture, leaving an allowance of 3 mm, which will go to an inclined slice at a 45-degree angle. The picture is fixed to the substrate, and then the upper frame is attached to the edges of the 2-sided adhesive tape.

Picture in passe partout with figured cut


Passe-partout may differ in texture or coating, which is used as velvet, silk, linen and decorative films. White, gray or a different color solution is ideal for engraving, painting, ordinary photography. Depending on the size of the creation for its design, you can choose a narrow or wide mat. The first option focuses on the frame, and the second adds a picture of “air”. In addition, determine the appropriate option for such a part:

  • Layered. It differs in that it consists of two or three options for cardboard with different shades. It must be combined with the image. The inner layer is darker or lighter than the outer. Often, a golden color product is used as the bottom layer, ideally combined with a frame from a golden baguette. A double version of close shades of the same color is able to create the effect of a deep “facet”, which is enhanced when using cardboard of a greater thickness. The design option using a multilayer mat, which uses oval facet, and then, in view of the rectangle, separated by a wide edging, has gained some distribution..
  • With edging. This is a plank (ruler) of plastic or wood, the appearance of which is diverse: from tinted and painted to aged, from carved to smooth. Kant acts as a partition between the pattern and the passe-partout, being an additional decor. The plank should be combined with the mat and frame, both in color and in decoration. Due to the special shape of the profile, it can be inserted into the passe-partout window. Kant does not allow the glass to come into contact with the glass, if the latter is used in the design.
  • No window cutout. The work in this case is superimposed on the product sheet, so that the image is saved completely. Cross-border parts of creation do not close.

Size selection

When choosing the optimal solution, pay attention to the diagonal, height and width of the product. Too small fields will not fulfill their primary function. Their width is almost always chosen a little more than the width of the frame. Sometimes wide fields are considered inappropriate, because an excessively large product distracts attention from the picture itself. The width of the field is in the range from 1/4 to 1/3 of the narrow side of the picture. If the image itself is not balanced, then it is allowed to make the side margins very wide. In addition, the wide option can be used in the following cases:

  • depicts a portrait, still life;
  • a large subject almost to the whole picture;
  • the landscape lacks the sea (to make the bottom even larger) or the sky (increase the strip above).

Sizing is a serious matter. If you are not mistaken with it, you can present the image in the best perception. Options:

  • for images of all sizes – the top and side fields are equal in width to each other, the bottom is slightly wider;
  • for medium and large – about 1/3 of the narrow side of the picture;
  • for vertically directed side fields 1/3 of the width of the narrow side of the image, the bottom margin is 1/3 of the height, the top is 1/5;
  • for small drawings with a large number of small details (for example, engraving) – a wide product up to 15 cm, and sometimes even more.

Framed photo

Color selection

Plain products are produced in a wide range of colors – from snowy white to deep black. Passepartout acts as a tool to achieve color balance between the picture and the frame. When selecting, it is very important to monitor the color combination:

  • For black-and-white works, use similar product options and frames: black-black, white-white, black-and-white and vice versa.
  • White color and its shades are widely used in the design of monochrome graphics and black and white photographs..
  • When designing color works, follow the subtle nuances of color and light in the image and the style in which the interior of the room is designed.
  • Dark products can enhance the intensity of the colors in the picture depending on their shade, highlighting cold or warm tones in the general range.
  • Ancient etchings and engravings often require versions of calm pastel shades that do not distract attention from the work itself..
  • Using a color frame, it is advisable to focus on muted, calm tones. Vivid colors are used in the design of posters, modern graphics, and catchy poster ones are appropriate for solving special problems (design).
  • Often the color of the product is chosen in the tone of one of the elements of the picture. In most cases, it differs from the shade of the frame, although sometimes a successful combination of both elements is similar in color..
  • The color of whipped cream (cream) is a neutral white with a slight yellowish tint, which has long become an integral element of the “new” color scheme. It is in harmony with the color of stone, suede, slate gray.
  • White visually enhances creation, and black decreases. On a white background, the picture seems to come to the fore, and the black frame is a kind of window through which viewers look at the picture. True, white is often too distracting from work, and black can negatively affect the correct perception of keys.
  • The shade of ivory is a soft white, more pleasing to the eyes. In interior art, the combination of ivory and black helps achieve the most dramatic sounds. This shade can reflect light, creating a feeling of warmth – goes well with muted dark colors.
  • If it comes to black and white photographs, then it makes sense to choose a frame of gray shade – from white to black.

Do-it-yourself passe partout

If you are going to make a passe-partout yourself, then prepare a ruler, scissors, cardboard, thick colored paper, a ruler, a metal corner and glue. Work Stages:

  • Draw a rectangle twice as large as the finished work on a blank sheet of cardboard. Then cut according to the markup and place in the center of the resulting rectangle a photograph, a picture, etc. Make sure the distance to the edges is the same. Carefully circle the picture with a pencil, remove and, stepping from the edges of 1-2 mm, cut a smaller rectangle. The result is a rectangle with a window cut out in the center.
  • Proceed to make a contrasting edging. Cut out two pairs of strips from colored paper (thick): the dimensions of the first two should correspond to the length of the inner window, and the second to the width. Fold each strip in half and leave a narrow edging in the center – 2 mm wide. Using a metal corner, check if all cut strips are suitable.
  • Next, connect the strips to the cardboard frame with glue, which is applied only to the cardboard. Pay particular attention to joints at the corners..
  • As soon as the glue dries, put a photo on the back of the mat and decorate the finished work with a frame – with or without glass. If you intend to place embroidery in the frame, first attach it to thick cardboard and fix the fabric on the back with a small stapler or double-sided tape.

Passe partout with embroidery


Before choosing a passe-partout to your taste, familiarize yourself with the price range. Assortment presented in specialized stores, incl. and on the internet, very big. When choosing, inspect the product, turn it over, checking both sides to make sure there are no defects. The price often includes clipping a window for your poster, photo or other work:


Dimensions (external and internal)

Price in rubles

Green moss

A4 21×29.7 cm, A5 21×14.8 cm


Green moss

A3 29.7×42 cm, A4 21×29.7 cm


Green moss

70x100cm, 50x70cm


Red raspberries

A4 21×29.7 cm, A5 21×14.8 cm


Red raspberries

A2 42×59.4 cm, A3 29.7×42 cm


Snow white

A1 59.4×84.1 cm, A2 42×59.4 cm


The black

A4 21×29.7 cm, A5 21×14.8 cm



70x100cm, 50x70cm


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