A great border can sometimes help separate your design from other elements, such as the perimeter of an ad. A border can also be used to divide up different parts of a design or to frame messaging or content.
While borders are most commonly associated with print design, they can also be an effective tool in digital design. A good border defines a space so that users know where a design starts and stops.
Borders have been used by graphic designers for as long as they have been designing. They’re also a lot of fun to play with. We’ll look at eight border design concepts (the majority of which you can actually download as project starters), as well as some useful tips and examples that you can try in projects.
1. Simple Lines
To be spectacular, a border design does not require a lot of effects. Simple lines can be the icing on the cake that elevates a good design to greatness. To determine the best border placement for your projects, experiment with weights, color, and how you join strokes.
Simple line borders are useful because they can be used almost anywhere. Use them with a light or dark background. You can use them on a photo or a blank canvas.
Consider the effect of white space on a simple-line border. A thicker border with more whitespace can actually help draw the eye into the design’s main content in the center. If the border design has too many movable parts, users may never look past it to find what you want them to see.
2. Feminine Lace
Because many projects with borders, such as invitations or cards, are often printed, feminine lace styles are popular (especially with the wedding industry).
These lace-style borders have a more delicate appearance, and you must be careful when pairing them with background elements so that the border remains readable. Look for a background and border style that has a lot of contrast so that each element stands out.
Experiment with different lace border styles, such as thick and thin. These patterns can quickly become overwhelming, and a thinner lace border can sometimes add just the right touch to a project.
3. Retro Styles
Because borders were popular a long time ago and aren’t as popular now, a retro border style can be an appropriate option.
With a retro border style, such as the art deco option above, you can evoke an emotional connection with the past or a specific era. The key to using a retro style is to avoid combining too many techniques, as a retro style can be a dominant visual effect.
To emphasize the border style, pair the strong lines of a retro option with a fun texture in print, such as foiling or embossing.
Any design element that is currently popular can be repurposed as a border design. Watercolor textures and effects are an excellent example of an overall trend that can be used as a border. Because of the versatility and variety of watercolor styles, this type of border can function as a light frame that transitions into the main design area or as a harder-edged border to designate the physical edges of a project.
For watercolor borders, choose an oversized, bold color and pattern. This results in a more modern appearance and feel. The above example is particularly appealing due to the combination of watercolor and geometric-shaped textures.
5. Vintage Frame
When it comes to border design, vintage or distressed badges and frames are a totally trendy choice. These elements create distinct containers for content and can be used for logo elements, display text for a homepage or poster, or simply to emphasize a specific part of a design.
A vintage-style border or frame has a mix of thick and thin strokes, and it often has some type of distressing or other texture added. This border is supposed to have an old or stamped design on it.
To achieve a vintage look, combine strong lines with sharp or minimally rounded corners.
6. Ink and Tattoo Style
A simple ink border can create a distinct edge on a project with a bit of a funky flair, especially when combined with tattoo-style ink elements.
A simple and subtle pattern that repeats around the edge of the design is common in this style. Depending on the background, the design is frequently a single color – typically black or white.
While these styles frequently have a delicate nature when viewed in isolation, they rarely have a distinctly masculine or feminine feel and usually take on the properties of surrounding elements.
Look for patterns that appear to repeat frequently. From a distance, this border style may appear to be a solid line, but upon closer inspection, a pattern emerges, delighting users.
7. White-Out Borders
Look for a border style that “erases” some of the main content area, allowing it to fade into the background. These white-out borders are also known as grunge style, thinks, or uneven edges and patterns.
It’s a fun option for print or digital projects that turns the concept of a border on its head. For maximum impact, combine a high contrast element with a white border. Apply a texture layer over the background if you want to create this effect.
Use a white border around a photo to really bring out the white-out effect. Because the foreground almost blends into the background in digital design, this effect takes on a whole new look on white backgrounds.
8. Inset Border
There is no requirement for a border to extend all the way to the canvas’s edge. To create a more layered design effect, consider using an inset border.
An inset border visually “shrinks” the canvas to the area contained within the border – notice how the text above is contained within the border area. It can assist the eye in quickly focusing on an important design element.
Use this technique to direct users’ attention to a specific block of text, call to action, or visually appealing element.
Allow enough space around the outside of the border to appear intentional, and use equal spacing on the left and right, as well as the top and bottom.
A modern border is more than just a single half-point stroke around a photo or graphic element. There are numerous additional ways to create a border that is as much a part of the design as it is an element that separates it from other elements.
Create a border to assist users focus on the most significant portion of the design to you. A trendy border design, from complex edging to basic frames, can help your design stand out.